13 Iconic Roles That Made It Hard For Actors To Book More Work

When an actor becomes well-known for playing a certain role, it can be hard for viewers to see them as anyone else. Other times, an ill-received role makes us wary of different projects the actor does. Sometimes, casting directors and executives feel the same way.

This post contains mention of depression.


Charlie Wright played Roderick Heffley in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, taking over from Devon Bostick, which led to the viral #NotMyRoderick hashtag criticizing his casting. It “kind of ruined [his] acting career.”

In a YouTube video, he said, “Do I have any hatred or anger towards people who participated in the #NotMyRodrick thing? No, I don’t. I did go through a depressive episode for almost three years afterwards, and it kind of ruined my acting career, but I’m still alive. I’m still here.”


Jennifer Aniston struggled with people only seeing her as Rachel Green from Friends for years. She told the Hollywood Reporter, “You just exhaust yourself. I mean, I could not get Rachel Green off of my back for the life of me. I could not escape ‘Rachel from Friends,’ and it’s on all the time, and you’re like, ‘Stop playing that fucking show!'”

She continued, “The Good Girl was the first time I got to really shed whatever the Rachel character was and to be able to disappear into someone who wasn’t that was such a relief to me.”


Several years after The Office, Jenna Fischer shot the pilot for the Matt LeBlanc-led sitcom Man with a Plan. However, she was recast because the test audience couldn’t “believe Pam would marry Joey [from Friends].”

On her Office Ladies podcast, she said, “They said — this is a literal quote, they said, ‘I don’t believe Pam would marry Joey. The chemistry doesn’t work between these two.’ That was the feedback they got.”


Tyler James Williams figured out that transitioning from his titular role on Everybody Hates Chris to grown-up roles would be difficult “pretty fucking quickly.” One of the show’s producers reportedly once told him, “I’ll never see you as anything else, and you’ll probably never work again.” It was likely a joke, but the actor still internalized it.

Tyler told GQ, “I was like, ‘Holy shit, you really just looked at me and said that.’…I realized at 17 that I didn’t like the road I was on. So I decided to stop and pivot. I got with a really good acting coach and I turned down every single thing I was offered.”


Vanessa Hudgens also had trouble breaking away from her breakout Disney Channel role. She told Untitled Magazine, “High School Musical was incredible, and it was so fun, and it gave me so many fans, which I’m very, very thankful for, but it also closed people’s minds up as to which characters I could portray. They only saw me as Gabriella Montez, and I love that character, but there’s so much more to me than just that.”

“So, for a while, I was kind of struggling and fighting for these roles that I just desperately wanted. It was hard, and it was a struggle, but then again, life is always a struggle. Having a career will always be a struggle. You’ll always have to fight for what you want. Definitely, crossing over and being able to tackle these grittier parts was a challenge, but I feel like I’ve done it! It’s a whole new chapter!” she said.


Laura Dern was unable to book roles for an entire year after playing Susan, a lesbian who helped Ellen DeGeneres come out in the famous episode of Ellen.

Laura told Vulture, “It was significant. It was significant because I was doing successful independent movies, and only months before that, I was in Jurassic Park, the most successful movie ever. So it was like, you’re being offered this, you’re being offered that — and it just stopped, which is kind of wild. By good fortune of the long path of a career, you can look back and say, how great to have it be felt, how backward we are. I took time off when I had my son, and I feel like, in a way, it gave room for less opportunity. I will say, for women, it’s hard to take time off by choice because then you feel like you have to start all over when you’re coming back to something.”


After Daniel Radcliffe played the titular role in the Harry Potter franchise, “50 percent of directors only saw [him] as one thing and only saw [him] as Harry.”

“The other 50 percent were excited by the chance to be the people who showed me as something else,” he told Empire.


When Family Matters ended, Jaleel White tried to break away from Steve Urkel with Grown Ups, which got canceled after a single season. On the advice of a “very high-ranking TV exec,” he strived for more dramatic roles, but none of his projects really took off.

He told the Hollywood Reporter, “In my 20s, that was tough to deal with because I had people asking me, ‘Well, what are you up to these days?’ And it’s like, ‘You didn’t catch me playing my detective turn on Lifetime last week?'”


For years, casting directors struggled to see Hilary Duff as anyone other than her titular role in Lizzie McGuire. She told Cosmopolitan, “I definitely went through big frustrations of being like, ‘Why can I not get a shot at being someone else?'”

She continued, “Not that I want to dog every casting director out there, but there’s a very small handful of people who are character actors and can be hired for roles that are truly different from one another. From age 21 to 25, before I became a mom, there was a lot of frustration. I would get to producer callback, and they’d be like, ‘She’s so great, and she gave us the best reading and blah blah blah, but she’s Hilary Duff…'”


After the teen sitcom Saved by the Bell wrapped, Elizabeth Berkley played the lead, Nomi Malone, in the poorly-performing NC-17 movie Showgirls. She told People, “No one associated with the film spoke up on my behalf to protect me. I was left out in the cold, and I was a pariah in the industry I had worked so hard for.”

“It was a vulnerable time, but it made me stronger,” she said.


For Regina King, playing Shalika in Boyz n the Hood was a way to prove she was “so much more than Brenda [from 227].” Afterward, however, she “saw that [she] was being stereotyped.”

She told Vulture, “I saw that a lot of us were being stereotyped. I didn’t want to be part of that — that’s not the narrative I was creating for myself….[When I was pregnant] I started saying no to things if the stories were too narrow, the kind that only depicted women as the kind of woman I was in Boyz n the Hood. It was a great role for me — I needed to do that to show the difference between what I did in 227 — but after that, that was enough.”


After Bella Thorne’s time as CeCe Jones on Shake It Up ended, she found it was “really hard to get a job.”

She told the Happy Sad Confused podcast, “People didn’t want to read me. They didn’t want to see me because they were like, ‘She’s a Disney actress.'”


And finally, after playing Ravi Ross on Jessie and the spin-off Bunk’d, Karan Brar was “stigmatized as being a Disney Channel kid, only being capable of doing a certain set of things and only having a certain skill set.”

“It takes a lot of time to prove that you can actually do things outside of that,” he told the Daily Campus.

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