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This is an actor who tries to impersonate real people for a role, mainly in historical or biographical films. In the film Malcolm X, Denzel Washington successfully presents himself as Malcolm X. In the film, Washington talks, walks, dresses and looks like Malcolm X. On the same note, The Last King of Scotland is a film about the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. Forest Whitaker successfully impersonates dictator Amin. Whitaker resembles Amin both in stature and mannerisms. Also, in the film, Whitaker has adopted the Ugandan dialect of English and speaks like Amin.
This is when the actor’s own personality defines the characters he/she portrays. As a result, the actors’ name can tell the audience what to expect in a film. The late Tupac Shakur was a personality actor. His real life was full of court battles, imprisonment and violence. Just like his music, his films championed gangster life including crime, drugs and violence. In films like Juice, Bullet and Gridlock'd, Shakur always played an outlaw. Thus, the audience could easily anticipate what was in a Shakur’s movie.
This is an actor who has a distinctive screen persona and is well known by the movie-going public. Fans of the actor often become interested in the actor’s private life. Will Smith and his family fits in this category. Information abounds in internet blogs and magazines about the family of Will Smith. Most of the movie going public knows that Smith is married to Jada Pinkett, an actress famous for films like The Natty Professor and Set It Off. It is also known that the couple has two children, Jaden and Willow, who have also featured in Will Smith’s films (The Pursuit of Happiness and I am Legend). This makes Will Smith and Jada Pinkett stars.
This is an actor who cannot be classified as one certain type. The actor can act different roles without being typecast. Cuba Gooding Jr. is one of such actors. Gooding can successfully act as the cheeky choir master (The Fighting Temptations) and the upright gentleman (Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story). Another such actor is Denzel Washington. Washington has successfully acted in emotional biographies like Malcolm X and Ray Charles. The same actor has played the villain in movies like Training Day and John Q. These actors successfully play contrasting roles in films. This makes them wild cards.
These are actors who play a wide variety of characters. Mostly, they play supporting or minor roles. In Sean Connery’s film A Just Cause, an example of a character actor is Laurence Fishburne who takes the role of a local sheriff. Besides, the late Len Lesser was another example of a character actor. Lesser played supporting roles in films by Clint Eastwood and Barbra Streisand, among others. He often featured as the “old funny guy”, gun man or waiter, among other roles. Lesser’s success in supporting roles led him to feature in leading roles like Uncle Leo in Seinfeld.