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19 Actors Who Took ‘Career-Ruining’ Roles And Crushed Them Anyway

They say the most talented actors can take on just about any role. Every now and then, though, a particular character has the ability to ruin an entire career. Fortunately for each of the following Hollywood stars, their predicted ‘career-ruiners’ ended up being some of their most iconic roles.

1. Jeff Daniels as Harry Dunne in Dumb and Dumber

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Everyone was advising him not to do the role because it would ruin his career. He absolutely nailed it. —Kuli24

2. Hugh Laurie as Dr. House in House.

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Made the role his own. An English comedian was well known for shows such as Laurie and Fry and the awesome Blackadder. —3rd_in_line

3. Tom Hanks as Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia.

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Tom Hanks was the guy from Big. He was light entertainment through and through — and then all of a sudden he’s winning back-to-back Oscars for playing an AIDS sufferer and a man with a learning difficulty. —Portarossa

4. John Lithgow as Arthur Mitchell in Dexter.

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I never realized he could be so damn scary. 3rd Rock and Shrek never prepared me for that. —CrusherOfChaos

5. Steve Carell as John DuPont in Foxcatcher.

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Steve Carell is absolutely terrifying as John DuPont in Foxcatcher. Many people have seen him in The Office, Anchorman, or The Forty Year Old Virgin. This role is…the opposite of those. —SaveBandit0215

6. Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos in Monster.

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Charlize Theron is such a chameleon and I love her for it. Her Arrested Development cameo is fucking hysterical, and I’m hoping for a sequel to Atomic Blonde. —NeverEnoughMuppets

7. Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie in Django Unchained.

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I was used to seeing him always playing the good guy because he was Hollywoods golden boy, but he played a fantastic villain, thanks in part due to Tarantinos excellent writing, but some of DiCaprios actions in the scenes were improvised, made me look at him as an actor in a new light and with more respect. —Cosmic_Cretin

8. Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad.

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From Hal in MITM to Walter in Breaking bad. Nailed it. —Blackdomino

9. Heath Ledger as Joker in The Dark Knight.

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I remember everyone’s first reaction as “The pretty dude from A Knight’s Tale? He’s going to ruin that role.” and it’s one of the best supporting acting jobs to date. —Byizo

10. Zac Efron as Ted Bundy in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.

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I actually started to believe that he was innocent, even though I knew he wasn’t. —Vore-

11. Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in Tombstone.

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Who would have thought? He killed it. —Throwawayaliveordead

12. Jimmi Simpson as William in Westworld.

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I have to admit it took me a long time to not see him as a McPoyle. —BroNavy

13. Brad Pitt as Chad Feldheimer in Burn After Reading.

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Pitt played that so well. I sat there waiting for something resembling character development or something. Nope, just a typecast idiot and he nailed it. —pvbob

14. Patrick Stewart voicing Avery Bullock in American Dad.

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He had been playing serious roles for years and then went with the drug addict deputy director of the CIA. Brought me lots of joy. —FantaOrange3377

15. James McAvoy as Kevin in Split.

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He had to play a child as an adult. And a woman as a man. And he crushed it. —vegaspimp22

16. Bill Murray as Bob Harris in Lost in Translation.

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I always thought of him solely as a comedian but he was excellent in that role and has since had some great “straight” roles, many with Wes Anderson who helped first revive his career by casting him in Rushmore. —findinganswers5

17. John Krasinski as Lee Abbott in A Quiet Place.


He went from being a Gumby-looking goof in The Office to giving a fantastic performance as an actor/director of A Quiet Place. —SirBugSlayer

18. Peter Dinklage as Tyrion in Game of Thrones.

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He almost didn’t take the role because he was iffy about doing fantasy.—fmp243

19. Cate Blanchette as Hela in Thor: Ragnarok.

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Won multiple Oscars. Did the occasional fantasy movie (LOTR), but never something that comedic or action heavy. Plus – while she’s always been BEAUTIFULLY STUNNING, this was the first role where I thought “Damn, Cate Blanchette is sexy too.”—mag0802