17 Actors Who Nailed Roles So Hard No One Else Should Even Try

There are always going to be performances that end up surprising us (Robert Pattinson as Batman, anyone?), but for the most part, there are some iconic roles that can just never be repeated.

I have a short list in my mind, and I know that you probably do, too – but let’s check out what these 17 people’s lists look like, first!

17. That performance is everything.

Louise fletcher as Nurse Ratched in one flew over the cuckoo’s nest.

Leslie Nielsen as frank drebin.

And Frank Drebin as Enrico Palatzzo.

16. A short but accurate list.

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine…

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man

Andy Serkis as Gollum

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins

Gary Oldman as Dracula

15. The look is there.

Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn. Best book to movie translation for a character I’ve ever seen.

He definitely got the look down pat. I remember, when I first saw the trailers, thinking “that guy looks like a Ranger,” as in the D&D archetype.

Then a moment later I realized that’s exactly what Aragorn was called in the book…

14. I don’t see who could do it better.

Raul Julia as Gomez Addams.

13. Born to play.

Val Kilmer in Tombstone.

Amazing Doc Holliday!

Every once in a while there’s a role that it seems like the actor was born to play. There’s really not another role that compares in his career.

12. Absolutely criminal.

John C. McGinley as Dr Cox.

It’s absolutely criminal that he never got an Emmy for that role. I still maintain that Dr. Cox is one of the most complex characters to ever appear on television.

He’s a self-righteous, depressed, borderline alcoholic jackass who nonetheless feels an incredible sense of duty to his patients and the practice of medicine in general. He thinks that he’s Superman, and simultaneously loves and despises that idea.

Scrubs usually focuses on how much the younger cast like JD, Elliot, and Turk grow over the series, but if you look at Cox – the way he mentors JD, builds a successful relationship with Jordan, deals with the death of his best friend, and becomes a father – he grows just as much.

God I love that character.

11. You can’t replace him.

Christopher Lee as basically anything.

It’s a shame they used comics and books to flesh out Dooku. I would have loved to have seen Christopher Lee bring more life to such a complex character that basically got memed.

10. With my whole heart.

Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall.

9. Talk about an icon.

Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.

8. No doubt about it.

Christian Bale in American Psycho.

That Huey Lewis and the News scene is iconic.

7. There is no Nick Offerman.

Ron Swanson.

There is no Nick Offerman, there is only Ron Swanson, and Duke Silver.

Nick even sings a song where he says one of the only things he and Ron have in common is that they’re both attracted to women who look like Megan Mullally.

6. They probably should have.

Jessica Walter in Arrested Development ( and Archer) .. her mean mom character dynamic is gold.

Malory won’t ever be the same without her.

I’m sure they’d retire the character. I’m sad about it.

5. They tried and failed.

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka.

Gene Wilder in every role of his.

There are so few actors out there that could be so funny with such an air of dignity about them. The boat scene in Willy Wonka simply could not be pulled off by anyone else.

4. The entire MOVIE wouldn’t be the same without her.

Madeline Kahn as Mrs. White.


3. You really just hate her.

Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge.

Umbridge sucked in the books, but in the movies she turned Umbridge into a character that you just don’t like into one that you hate with a burning passion.

2. This entire cast, actually.

Andre the giant in The Princess Bride.

Buttercup and Humperdink both were cast by fine actors who did a good job at the roles. Wesley, Fezzik, Inigo, Vizzini, and Rugen were pure magic.

Even small parts like the grandfather, grandson, Miracle Max and his wife were rather brilliant.

Checking imdb, it looks like the casting was done by Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins who among many other credits also did the casting for Home Alone, Beetlejuice, Jurassic Park, A Few Good Men, Mrs. Doubtfire and Harry Potter.

1. Underrated, for sure.

Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice.

“Ah. Well… I attended Juilliard… I’m a graduate of the Harvard business school. I travel quite extensively. I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that. I’ve seen the EXORCIST ABOUT A HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN TIMES, AND IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT”

I think I agree with most of these, but also it might be fun to watch certain actors try, you know?

What role would you call “iconic?” Let us know in the comments!