Nine Actors Who Reinvented Themselves and Revitalized Their Careers

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Liam Neeson–  Neeson has had a long career, and the early part of it was in dramatic roles. An intense dramatic actor, he apeared in films like The Dead Pool, Dark Man, Schindler’s List, Rob Roy and Les Miserables. His career rebirth came after playing Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars-Episode one: The Phantom Menace. After that, he got more offers for actions parts and recreated himself as an action hero in films like Gangs of NY, Batman Begins, Taken, Clash of the Titans, the A-Team, Unknown, the Grey, Taken 2, and Battleship, among others.

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Steven Martin– Martin started out in the 1960s as a hyper-active stand-up comic, best known for the “King Tut Song”. After that, he made the transition to film, starting with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978). He would carry his zany style of comedy to the big screen in movies such as The Jerk, the Muppet Movie, the Man With Two Brains, The Three Amigos and Little Shop of Horrors. In 1987, he made the well-reviewed rom-com Roxanne, which proved to people that Martin was more than just an over-the-top comic. He then segued into more mature roles, in films such as Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Parenthood, Father of the Bride, Bowfinger and Cheaper by the Dozen.

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Leslie Nielsen -Although the later part of his career has overshadowed his early work, Nielsen was a popular and successful dramatic actor for the early part of his acting oeuvre. He appeared in TV dramas like Peyton Place, Kung Fu and Colombo, and films like Forbidden Planet, The Poseidon Adventure, Brinks: the Great Robbery, Project: Kill, Prom Night and Creepshow. He then got his watershed role in the hit comedy Airplane! (1980), where his deadpan delivery hilariously contrasted with the absurdity of the events of the film. This marked the course-change in his career where he began to get cast against type in humorous roles. This led to him being in Police Squad (the films and the TV series), Re-Possessed, Dracula: Dead & Loving it, Spy Hard, Mr. Magoo, Wrongfully Accused, 2001: A Space Travesty, Scary Movie 3, Super Hero Movie and An American Carol.    

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Dick Powell– Powell was an excellent singer and spent much of his career making musical comedies. The early years of his career were spent in light musicals like 42nd Street, Gold diggers of 1933, Footlight Parade, Gold Diggers of 1935, The Singing Marine, Gold Diggers of 1937 and Abbott & Costello in the Navy, among others. However, by the 1940s, he was itching for a change. He got his wish when he was cast as tough detective Phillip Marlowe in the film noir hit Murder, My Sweet. He did so well playing the darkly rugged PI that his career had a major shift. He was then cast in projects like Cornered, Johnny 0’Clock and To the Ends of the Earth, to name a few.

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Bryan Cranston-He first became famous as dysfunctional sitcom dad Hal on the popular TV comedy show Malcom in the Middle. He might have remained typecast, but as luck would have it, a new project prevented that. Cranston renewed his career in the multiple award-winning TV drama Breaking Bad, playing the intense meth kingpin Walter White. Cranston also appeared in films like Godzilla (2014) and Trumbo.

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Robin Williams– He initially made a name for himself on the silly TV sit-com Mork & Mindy, (spun off from his appearance on Happy Days). His popularity led to him starring in comedy films like Popeye and Club Paradise. After a strong performance in the drama Good Morning Vietnam, more serious roles came his way. Although he would never stop doing comedy, he altered his comedic roles with impressive dramatic turns, such as in Dead Poets Society, Awakenings, the Fisher King, Good Will Hunting (for which he won a best supporting actor Oscar), Jack, Patch Adams, What Dreams May Come, Jacob the Liar, One Hour Phot, Insomnia and The Night Listener.

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Hugh Laurie-Laurie started out on British TV comedy shows, including Blackadder, Jeeves & Wooster, and A Bit of Fry and Laurie, as well as in comedic films like 101 Dalmatians and Stuart Little. He was surprisingly cast against type as the anti-social, narcistic doctor Gregory House in the TV drama House, MD, which won him much critical acclaim. After that came more serious roles, such as The Night Manager and Chance

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Michael Keaton– He started his career as a comedian, starring in films that included The Night Shift, Mr. Mom, Johnny Dangerously, Gung Ho and Beetlejuice. He was cast against type in the drama Clean and Sober, for which he was praised, followed by his most famous role in Tim Burton’s Batman. This led to a new direction for him, making serious films, including Pacific Heights, One Good Cop, The Paper, Birdman and the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming.

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Tom Hanks– Hanks first came on the scene on TV in the sit-com Bosom Buddies. Although the show didn’t last long, he made enough of an impression to get movie offers. He starred in comedy films such as Splash, Bachelor Party, the Man With One Red Shoe, Volunteers, The Money Pit, Dragnet, Big, Turner & Hooch and Joe vs. the Volcano. In 1993, he was cast in the drama Philadelphia, for which he won his first Oscar for best actor. After Philadelphia came Forest Gump, Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, the Green Mile, The Road to Perdition, The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, Captain Phillips, Sully and Inferno, among others.