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Type Riders

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What would you consider the best and worst examples of casting against type? -- Paul Lanner

Start with typical types of typecasting -- funny versus serious, light versus dark, innocent versus sexual. Then consider how so many actors famous for doing one thing long to do the other. (The James Lipton-y term for this itch is ''wanting to stretch.'') Among the less fortunate: Nicolas Cage floundered as an action star before redefining his strengths in Adaptation, and Meg Ryan recently went desperately dingy in In the Cut. Among successful type-busters, Robert De Niro charmingly spoofed his own heavy roles in Meet the Parents and Analyze This, and Adam Sandler ditched his fratty-idiot act for an amazing, melancholy turn in Punch-Drunk Love. And then there's Greg Kinnear, who may not be in the category of category-defying Meryl Streep, but who has become a movie actor of notable range, beautifully playing a haunted porn addict in Auto Focus one year, doofus conjoined twin in Stuck on You the next.


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Originally posted Jan 23, 2004 Published in issue #747-748 Jan 23, 2004 Order article reprints

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