If you’ve seen advertisements for Pirate Radio you may be wondering why Philip Seymour Hoffman is reprising his character from Almost Famous (2000), only this time on the high seas. You’re not alone. Nor is Hoffman the only one who has given audiences a disquieting sense of deja vu. Whether it’s an expression of their laziness or just an honest mistake, sometimes actors end up playing the same exact character in two completely different movies.
In her breakout role in Kiss the Girls (1997), Judd plays a woman who escapes a killer and becomes tough-as-nails as she works with a detective to bring down the brute. Judd reprises that role — no, not in the prequel Along Came a Spider (2001) — but in Double Jeopardy (1999), as a woman who, after going to jail when her husband frames her for murder, goes from housewife to hardcore to bring him down.
It’s tough to find fault with the man who played Han Solo and Indiana Jones. Lately, though, Ford keeps playing a grumpy guy who gets grumpier when his family is kidnapped. The circumstances don’t really matter. Whether he’s playing the President in Firewall (2006) or a security designer in Air Force One (1997), the character is the same. Wait, that’s wrong: It’s the other way around. Point proven!
Maybe its the glasses. Maybe it’s that froggy cadence. Either way it’s impossible to tell the difference between Jeff Goldblum’s brilliant Jurassic Park (1993) scientist who warns of the dangers of resurrecting dinosaurs and Jeff Goldblum’s brilliant Independence Day (1996) genius who warns of the danger of an alien attack. Exchange one for the other and nothing changes. It’s kind of astonishing, actually.
In both Amistad (1997) and A Time to Kill (1996), McConaughey plays a young, idealistic lawyer who gets involved in a case he’s not quite ready for. Sure, in Amistad he defends 19th century slaves whereas in A Time to Kill, his client is a man accused of killing the men who raped his daughter. But the only real difference is that in Amistad, McConaughey wears a pair of classy 19th century spectacles.
Despite his age, Cera already has a few great movies under his belt, including Juno (2007), Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008) and Superbad (2007). Unfortunately, it’s unclear if there are even subtle differences between these characters. All are unlucky-in-love high school kids, nerdy, yet kind of cool. All three are also just his Arrested Development character, only more grown up.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Gellar has kept her career plugging along by starring in all four movies in The Grudge series. What’s that you say? There are only two Grudge flicks? True! But Gellar goes on reprising her Grudge characters in The Return (2006) and Possession (2009), two other horror flicks that feature Gellar as a quiet young woman who is haunted by the supernatural and sees lots of freaky stuff.
Tommy Lee Jones
In The Fugitive (1993), Jones perfected the role of taciturn federal agent in pursuit of an escaped convict. For his trouble, he won an Oscar and got the lead in a sequel, U.S. Marshals (1997), despite playing second fiddle to Harrison Ford in the original. But Jones reprises this character on another occasion, the aforementioned Double Jeopardy. He varies his accent a little, but that’s about it.
Vaughn plays pretty much the same smooth-talking, good-guy-at-heart ladies man in every movie he makes, but his roles in Old School (2003) and Wedding Crashers (2005) are particularly identical. Vaughn’s smooth-talking electronics store owner from Old School morphs seamlessly into Vaughn’s smooth-talking divorce lawyer from Wedding Crashers. You can expect the similarities to keep popping up as his career progresses.