10 Actors Who Played The Same Character In Completely Different Movies –


A few weeks ago it was announced that Australian actor Damon Herriman of Justified fame will be taking on the role of infamous cult leader Charles Manson in both the second season of David Fincher’s acclaimed TV crime drama Mindhunter and Quentin Tarantino’s next movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

It’s unknown whether Herriman nabbing the role in Mindhunter influenced Tarantino to cast him as Manson too or that he’s just really convincing as a cult leader, but he’s by no means the first actor to tackle the same character twice in a different movie.

And no, that’s not just characters returning for sequels or prequels (or shared universes) either; sometimes a familiar character played by the very same actor randomly pops up in a movie that’s otherwise unrelated to their first onscreen appearance…

10. Danny Trejo – Machete

Dimensions Films / 20th Century Fox

The Character: Isador ‘Machete’ Cortez

The Movies: Machete, Machete Kills and the Spy Kids franchise

Believe it or not Uncle Machete – the tough guy with a heart of gold who saves his estranged family at the end of the first Spy Kids movie – is the very same vigilante who spent the entirety of both Machete movies committing the kind of gruesome acts of violence that earn a film an R rating.

Although the character of Machete made his big screen debut in 2001 with Spy Kids, director Robert Rodriguez actually began drafting a Machete film years earlier after casting Trejo as hitman Navajas in his 1995 film Desperado. Both director and actor never thought a film focusing on a character that Rodriguez envisioned as a “Mexican Jean-Claude Van Damme” would ever see the light of day and so a more family-friendly version of the character was inserted into the Spy Kids movies.

But when Rodriguez collaborated with Quentin Tarantino on 2007’s Grindhouse and produced a fake trailer for a Machete movie, interest in Uncle Machete’s violent day job was piqued and soon enough we got to see the far more savage side of Isador Cortez in Machete and Machete Kills.

9. Judi Dench – Queen Victoria

Buena Vista/BBC Films

The Character: Queen Victoria

The Movies: Mrs Brown and Victoria & Abdul

Even though she isn’t exactly a Queen Victoria lookalike Dame Judi Dench has played the British monarch two times on the big screen in her career so far in films focusing on the scandalous friendships the royal struck up with two very different men after the death of her beloved husband Prince Albert.

Her first performance came in John Madden’s 1997 drama Mrs Brown and co-starred comedian Billy Connolly as John Brown – the trusted Scottish manservant of Queen Victoria with whom she was rumoured to have a relationship that extended beyond just friendship. Dench’s performance earned her a BAFTA for Best Actress and an Oscar nomination for Best Actress too.

Two decades later Dench returned to the role in Stephen Frears’ 2017 film Victoria & Abdul alongside actor Ali Fazal who played the eponymous Abdul – a young prison clerk from colonial India who travelled to England to become a servant to Queen Victoria who was so taken with him that she appointed Abdul her Indian Secretary.

There were no BAFTAs that time around for Dench, so it’s safe to say her first performance as Queen Victoria made the bigger splash.

8. Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy – Jesse & Celine

Columbia Pictures

The Characters: Jesse and Celine

The Movies: Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy and Waking Life

Ethan Hawke’s Jesse and Julie Delpy’s Celine are best known as the star-crossed lovers from Richard Linklater’s 1995 romantic drama Before Sunrise who meet randomly on a train in Europe and spend one magical evening walking the streets of Vienna waxing lyrical about life, love, religion and pretty much everything in between before both returning to their respective lives.

The talkative pair met up again in the 2004 sequel Before Sunset where we learn Jesse is now a successful writer with a wife and child and Celine an environmental activist with a photojournalist boyfriend.

Not that that stopped them chewing each other’s ears off once again and apparently hooking up because when we saw them again in 2013’s Before Midnight they were married and parents to twin girls.

Sandwiched in between Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, however, Jesse and Celine made a brief appearance in Linklater’s trippy rotoscoped animation Waking Life in 2001 doing what they do best – philosophising about reincarnation, collective memory, Timothy Leary and the like.

7. Jason Mewes & Kevin Smith – Jay & Silent Bob

View Askew/Dimension

The Characters: Jay and Silent Bob

The Movies: Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse films and Scream 3

One of the perks of being a director and sometime actor who has built an indie cinematic universe is that you can repeatedly give yourself roles in your own films, as is the case with Kevin Smith who has cast himself and BFF Jason Mewes as joined-at-the-hip duo Jay and Silent Bob in several of his View Askewniverse movies.

Jay and Silent Bob have made a few appearances in non-View Askewniverse films too, most notably Wes Craven’s third Scream movie in which they appear taking a tour of the Hollywood studio where Scream 3’s film-within-a-film Stab 3 is being filmed and mistake Courtney Cox’s Gale Weathers for real-life news anchor Connie Chung.

This, alongside a nod to a fictional Scream 4 film in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, led some to speculate that the Scream films and the View Askewniverse take place on the same fictional plane of existence.

However, look back to the very first Scream film and you’ll find a VHS copy of Smith’s debut film Clerks lingering in the background of the scene where film geek Randy explains how to survive a horror movie which means the View Askewniverse is fictional within the Scream universe.

Basically, that means Jay and Silent Bob are cosmic fictional beings able to transcend unrelated movie universes … or something like that.

6. Tom Conway – Dr Louis Judd

RKO Radio Pictures

The Character: Dr Louis Judd

The Movies: Cat People and The Seventh Victim

Characters randomly turning up in unrelated movies isn’t just a new phenomenon. Way back in 1942, actor Tom Conway played a psychiatrist going by the name of Dr Louis Judd in the classic horror Cat People about a young woman called Irena who has the rather unfortunate affliction of turning into a panther when she’s aroused or angry.

Dr Judd met a sticky end in Cat People when he pissed all over the Hippocratic oath by making a move on Irena who proceeded to maul him to death after transforming into an angry sex panther. That’s what you get for crossing the line with your patient, doctor.

Curiously though Dr Louis Judd made a miraculous recovery from his death and a year later appeared in The Seventh Victim treating a young woman who had got herself tangled up in a satanic cult in New York City.

Although it would appear Dr Judd is a special kind of psychiatrist with the ability to come back from the dead, many speculate Conway’s reprising the role was an attempt to capitalise on the success of Cat People by including a familiar face in The Seventh Victim which funnily enough failed as the latter film flopped pretty hard.

5. Ian Hart – John Lennon

Good Machine/Gramercy Pictures

The Character: John Lennon

The Movies: The Hours and Times and Backbeat

Ian Hart is probably best known as the actor who played Professor Quirinus Quirrell (aka the dude who had Voldemort’s face embedded in the back of his head) in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone but earlier in his career he gained recognition for taking on the role of music icon John Lennon not once but twice.

Despite a lack of physical similarity (Hart being blue-eyed and bald to Lennon’s brown eyes and mop-top), he gave an uncanny performance in Christopher Münch’s The Hours and Times in 1991. A fictionalised account of what may have happened between Lennon and The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein during a holiday they took to Barcelona in 1963, the movie won a Special Jury Recognition Award at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival.

Hired on the strength of his first performance as Lennon, Hart later played a younger version of him in Iain Softley’s Backbeat – a 1994 drama set during The Beatles’ time in Hamburg and focusing on the love triangle between Lennon, fifth Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe and German artist Astrid Kirchherr.

4. Gary Farmer – Nobody


The Character: Nobody

The Movies: Dead Man and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

Indie director Jim Jarmusch’s 1995 revisionist western Dead Man stars Johnny Depp as a city slicker who takes a new job in the fictional frontier town of Machine in the Wild West of late 19th century America.

After incurring the wrath of the locals and getting himself shot, he soon finds that the West is indeed very wild but meets a Native American man named Nobody who was abducted as a child and raised in England and guides him on a spiritual journey that takes the pair even further westward.

Jarmusch’s next film Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai was a very different beast set in modern-day New York City and starring Forest Whitaker as an African-American mafia hitman who practices the ancient code of the samurai but linked by the shared theme of hybrid racial identity and of course by Gary Farmer who briefly reprised his role as Nobody.

To the casual viewer, Farmer’s role in Ghost Dog might seem like an entirely different character given that his Native American garb is gone and he pops up as a pigeon fancier as opposed to a spiritual guide although he does utter a rather memorable line of dialogue in both movies that links the two incarnations of Nobody together – “Stupid f**king white man”.

3. Ralph Bellamy & Don Ameche – Randolph & Mortimer Duke

Paramount Pictures

The Characters: Randolph & Mortimer Duke

The Movies: Trading Places and Coming to America

In John Landis’ 1983 comedy Trading Places, Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche play a pair of scheming super-rich brothers who conspire to switch the lives of their privileged soon-to-be great-nephew-in-law Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) and street hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) in a Prince and the Pauper-style set-up for their own amusement.

Winthorpe and Valentine soon figure out what’s going on, however, and hatch a plot that culminates in Randolph and Mortimer Duke losing a massive $394 million and falling from financial grace.

In a brief cameo in Landis’ 1988 comedy Coming to America we learn what became of the now destitute brothers Duke when wealthy African prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy again in a role unrelated to his Trading Places character) walks by them panhandling homeless on the streets of New York City and gives them a very generous wad of cash.

Funnily enough, the pair don’t seem to notice that Prince Akeem bears a striking resemblance to the man who caused their downfall a few years earlier. Strange that.


2. Michael Keaton – Ray Nicolette


The Character: Ray Nicolette

The Movies: Jackie Brown and Out of Sight

Ray Nicolette first showed up in Quentin Tarantino’s uber-cool adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s book Rum Punch as an FTA agent using the eponymous Jackie Brown in a sting to catch Samuel L. Jackson’s gun runner Ordell Robbie.

Just six months after the release of Jackie Brown, Ray Nicolette – clad in his familiar leather jacket and sunglasses on a string and chomping on his trademark chewing gum – popped up again in Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight, another adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel, this time promoted to an FBI agent who is the married boyfriend of star Jennifer Lopez’s character Karen Sisco.

As the two movies were so close together in production, it made sense that Michael Keaton should reprise his role as Agent Nicolette. In fact, before casting Keaton in the role again Soderbergh checked out his first performance as Nicolette when Jackie Brown was in the editing stages and was so taken that hiring a different actor seemed stupid.

As Jackie Brown had gone into production first, its distributors Miramax owned the rights to the character but thanks to Tarantino’s insistence Out of Sight’s distributors Universal didn’t have to pay a penny to use Ray Nicolette again.

1. Stanley B. Herman – Uncle Hank

Artisan/Fox Searchlight

The Character: Uncle Hank

The Movies: Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan

So you’re probably thinking who the heck was Uncle Hank in Requiem for a Dream. Though his name might not be familiar to most his one scene in the film was quite possibly one of its most memorable.

That’s because Uncle Hank is none other than the sleazy dude who suggests Jennifer Connelly’s character Marion goes “ass to ass” while taking part in a sex show to raise money for her heroin habit. If you’re lucky enough to have not witnessed this moment of cinematic depravity all you need to know is it involves a double-ended dildo, a lot of lube and a very pained looking Marion.

According to director Darren Aronofsky, he felt bad hiring Stanley B. Herman for the day and crediting him as ‘The Pervert’ so gave him the moniker of Uncle Hank. Herman reprised the role again in Black Swan as the man who harasses Natalie Portman’s ballerina character Nina with obscene gestures while she’s riding the subway.

Herman also worked with Aronofsky on his 1991 short film Fortune Cookie in which he is credited as ‘The Pervert’ and on his most recent movie Mother! where he’s credited simply as ‘Fornicator’. There seems to be a bit of a pattern emerging in Herman and Aronofsky’s collaborations so far.


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