Top 10 Actor Reinventions

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On 20th July 2015, THE GUNMAN arrives on DVD and Blu-ray. With such a diverse acclaimed cast, including Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Idris Elba and Ray Winstone, the film reminds us of the beauty of reinvention on the big screen. In Hollywood you can go from a string of small roles to being the starring lead overnight. To celebrate its release, on digital platforms from 13th July, 2015 and on Blu-ray and DVD from 20th July 2015, courtesy of STUDIOCANAL, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best actor reinventions over the years.

Sean Penn

Sean Penn appeared in a 1974 episode of the Little House on the Prairie television series as an extra when his father, Leo, directed some of the episodes. He launched his film career with the 1981 action-drama Taps, where he played a military high school cadet. He went on to become a member of the Hollywood A-List starring in intense feature dramas including Mystic River, Milk (for which he won Best Actor Oscars), 21 Grams, Fair Game, The Interpreter, Gangster Squad, and The Tree of Life.  In THE GUNMAN, Penn has reinvented himself as an actor, swapping his intense dramatic side, for an all action, flying kicking alter ego out to save the world with a combination of intellect and heavy duty weaponry.

Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson broke onto the scene playing rather cool and collected characters, which had a tendency of veer on the serious side of things. Early in his career, roles in iconic films like Gangs of New York, Michael Collins and Schindler’s List made him the ideal dramatic character with an intensity you were sucked into. Fast forward to the present day and Neeson is now an iconic action star. Whether he’s starring in Taken, Non-Stop, or Run All Night one thing is for sure- he’s taking care of business, and his opponents are one step away from their imminent doom.

Matthew McConaughey

The handsome Texas native, Matthew McConaughey made a name for himself playing a string of leading men in a number of predictable, but always entertaining romantic comedies. Whether he was starring in The Wedding Planner or How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days he had the ladies swooning over his looks rather than his acting. After consciously deciding to revamp his career he took off, and now has become a real Hollywood star even nabbing himself an Oscar for his role in Dallas Buyers Club.  Between his most recent performances in Interstellar and True Detective McConaughey is garnering a whole new kind of attention and praise for his acting abilities.

Mark Wahlberg

If reinventions garnered awards Mark Walberg would be winning big. Not only has he reinvented himself once, but he managed to do it twice successfully.  The Boston native has come a long way from his rough criminal past. His first reinvention landed him in music as part of the New Kids on the Block, but eventually he branched out into hip hop with his group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Just when everyone thought they had him and all figured out he blew them away with his acting.  From Three Kings, The Perfect Storm, to The Departed, Walberg proves with every role he’s got this acting thing down.

Robert Downey Jr.


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In his heyday Robert Downey Jr. demonstrated some serious acting abilities in roles like Less than Zero and Chaplin. Showing in both cases the diverse array of characters he was capable of playing. His public battle with drugs took him off the map for a while, but he surfaced with multiple hit comedic roles in films like Tropic Thunder, and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.  His reinvention was capitulated into blockbuster success when he took on the role of Tony Stark in Iron Man, and since then he’s been having one smash hit after another as part of the Marvel franchise.

Will Smith

Will Smith entered our hearts as the bright colour wearing over the top rapper many of us fondly remember as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. He made a career out of being everyone’s favourite funny man with not a serious bone in him. If only we knew then that he would completely reinvent himself into major Hollywood name. From his parts in The Pursuit of Happyness, I Am Legend, Ali, and Enemy of the State, he has proven to be more than capable of playing a range of characters. Nowadays Will Smith is a real leading man with box office presence.

Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston started off his career playing Hal on the iconic hit sitcom Malcolm in the Middle. After playing the family patriarch for seven great seasons it was hard to imagine Cranston being anyone else other than the comedic dad, who always made us laugh. However Cranston proved us wrong when he became Walter White in the smash hit Breaking Bad, earning four Emmys and a Golden Globe for the role. Not only did he show us another side of himself, but he completely reinvented his career.

Hugh Laurie

Looking at Hugh Laurie’s career success now it’s hard to believe he had his start in the comedy genre.  In the United Kingdom he is best known from his comedic success as Bertie Wooster, the other have the duo of Jeeves and Wooster. Laurie has undergone a full transformation, now playing characters with a lot less humour and more wit and seriousness. Between his impeccable American accent and hit roles in cult favourites like House, and Veep, Laurie has become a legitimate star.

Jaime Foxx

Jaime Foxx spent most of the 90s as a reigning comedy king. He even had a successful sitcom baring his namesake. Somewhere in between making everyone laugh Jaime Foxx transformed into a serious actor. His complete career revamp won him an Oscar for his role in Ray solidifying his star power. Any Given Sunday, Collateral, and Dreamgirls are just some of the amazing roles he’s taken on over the years impressing us time and time again with his acting skills.

Andrew Garfield

Andrew got his career started playing the boy next door in the British television series Sugar Rush. Fast-forward some years followed by a career shift to America and Garfield has become a major a box office success.  The Social Network was his breakout role that really displayed his acting abilities. Followed by taking on the iconic role of Spider-Man, long gone are the days of Garfield playing the generic boy next door roles.

THE GUNMAN is released on digital platforms from 13th July, 2015 and on Blu-ray and DVD from 20th July 2015, courtesy of STUDIOCANAL

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