A few years back I resurrected this conversation on the Hollywood Saloon forums, and it turned into quite the lively discussion. It was a trivia question I heard in college, and back in the 1990s there was quite the specific answer because there were so few actors who qualified.
The question is this: What actors or actresses have played two different characters at least three times each?
The example we give is the most obvious answer: Harrison Ford. Harrison Ford was Indiana Jones and Han Solo. Two different characters the actor has played at least three times each. Two different movies series.
With the sequel explosion in Hollywood in the 1990s and 2000s, this list has almost quadrupled.
The conversation on the Saloon forums was terrific and resulted in additions to the list that should have been counted back in college, but our movie knowledge wasn’t vast enough then. And new additions were pointed out and fun was had batting back and forth actors who qualified for inclusion.
The reason I resurrected this conversation, and am posting it here on But, I Digress…, is to keep the conversation going because there are new members to this exclusive club all the time!
While not AS exclusive as it once was, it is still quite the short list. Please note that for a film to qualify, it had to have a substantial release domestically in the United States.
Below is the list of elite actors who now qualify for this unique distinction. And for the fun of it, we are keeping a tally of the actors who are on the cusp – one movie away from being included on this exclusive list.
UPDATE! – The latest addition to the list is Vin Diesel! With his appearance in Riddick (2013) as the title character, he joins our esteemed club. And updated some “cuspers” as well.
Here is the updated list:1. Harrison Ford: Indiana Jones, Han Solo 2. Sylvester Stallone: Rocky Balboa, John Rambo 3. Mel Gibson: Mad Max, Martin Riggs 4. Clint Eastwood: Man with No Name, Dirty Harry 5. Talia Shire: Connie Corleone, Adrian Balboa 6. Patrick Stewart: Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Professor Charles Xavier 7. Hugo Weaving: Elrond, Agent Smith, Megatron** 8. Ian McKellan: Gandolf, Magneto 9. James Earl Jones: Darth Vader, James Greer 10. Frank Oz: Yoda, Miss Piggy; Fozzie Bear; Animal; etc. 11. Judge Reinhold: Billy Rosewood, Dr. Neil Miller 12. Michael York: D’Artagnan, Basil Exposition 13. Warwick Davis: Professor Flitwick, Leprechaun 14. George Kennedy: Joe Patroni, Captain Ed Hocken 15. Christopher Lee : Dracula, Fu Manchu, Sarumon, Count Dooku** 16. Mike Myers: Austin Powers/Dr. Evil, Shrek 17. Eddie Murphy: Axel Foley, Donkey 18. Jackie Chan: Kevin Chan Ka Kui, Chief Inspector Lee 19. Orlando Bloom: Legolas, Will Turner 20. Matt Damon: Jason Bourne, Linus Caldwel 21. Tim Allen: Buzz Lightyear, Santa Claus 22. Samuel L. Jackson: Mace Windu, Nick Fury 23. Eddie Kaye Thomas: Finch, Rosenberg 24. John Cho: John the MILF Guy, Harold 25. Leo Gorcey: Ethelbert “Muggs” McInnis/McGinnis/Maloney, Terence Aloysius “Slip” Mahoney
26. Huntz Hall: Glimpy, Horace Debussy “Sach” Jones 27. William Powell: Philo Vance, Nick Charles 28. Antonio Bandaras: Gregorio Cortez, Puss In Boots 29. Ben Stiller: Gaylord “Greg” Focker, Alex the Lion 30. Michael Caine: Harry Palmer, Alfred Pennyworth 31. Gary Oldman: Sirius Black, James Gordon 32. Tyrese Gibson: USAF Master Sergeant Epps, Roman Pierce 33. Vin Diesel: Dominic Toretto, Riddick Honorable Mention: Michael J. Fox : Marty McFly, Stuart Little*
*Stuart Little 3 was not a theatrical release, but it is still him playing the same character
**Saruman appears in the extended edition of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, not the original theatrical release. With The Clone Wars (2008), Christopher Lee will become the first member of the 3 and 3 club. Hugo Weaving is also a member of the 3 and 3 club. And with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Christopher Lee became the sole member of the 4 and 3 club.
On the cusp: Actors one movie away from getting on the board
Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes), Tom Hanks (Woody, Robert Langdon), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox, God), Keanu Reeves (Neo, Ted “Theodore” Logan), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator, Trench), Owen Wilson (Kevin Rawley, Lightning McQueen, Jedidiah, Roy O’Bannon), Ice Cube (Craig Jones, Calvin Palmer, Jr., Nick Persons), Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort, Hades, M [eventually]), Bruce Willis (John McClane, Church, Frank Moses), Liam Neeson (Aslan, Zeus, Ra’s Al Ghul, Bryan Mills), John Ratzenberger (Hamm, Mack), Will Smith (Agent J, Mike Lowry), Martin Lawrence (Big Momma, Marcus Burnett), Jason Statham (Frank Martin, Chev Chelios, Lee Christmas), Don Cheadle (Basher Tarr, Col. James Rhodes), Anna Faris (Cindy Campbell, Jeanette the Chipmunk, Sam Sparks), Jonathan Pryce (Governor Swan, The President [G.I. Joe movies]), Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal Lector, Odin), Natalie Portman (Padme Amidala, Jane Foster)
On the cusp part 2: Actors one movie away from getting on the board yet highly unlikely to make it
Cameron Diaz, Sigourney Weaver, Steve Guttenberg, Sean Connery, William Shatner, John Cleese, Julie Andrews, Tommy Lee Jones, Chevy Chase, Gene Hackman, Christopher Lloyd, Emilio Estevez, Burt Reynolds, Robert DeNiro, John Rhys-Davies, John Travolta, Cate Blanchett, Robbie Coltraine, Jada Pinkett Smith, Emma Thompson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Smith, Chuck Norris, Kurt Russell, Chris Evans, Elijiah Wood, Chris Rock, Burgess Meredith (deceased), Jim Varney (deceased)
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this list is that it includes only one woman. And she has been on the list from the beginning of this trivia question, and was usually the one that EVERYONE missed. Congratulations, Talia Shire!
And through the conversation, we learned that Eastwood’s Man With No Name is more than likely not the same character in all three movies, but since we aren’t 100% sure, and the court of public opinion usually names him as one of the actors – I know I did when I heard the question the first time! – we include him on the list.
Here is a link to the current discussion on the Hollywood Saloon forums: Movie Trilogy Challenge. We are also discussing this topic in the Hollywood Saloon Facebook Group, where some of the more recent additions were brought to my attention.
Here is a link to the original resurrected discussion on the old Hollywood Saloon forums: Fun Movie Trivia Question
I will post updates to this list as they come about. Perhaps I will even find a better way to organize the list, too. Right now it seems so random. If you have any suggestions for additions for the list or of actors who are on the cusp of making this list, please let me know.