12+ Iconic Movie Heroes and Villains That Were Portrayed By The Same Actors

Acting is far more challenging than it seems. It’s not just about learning scripts and lines by heart but bringing a character to life in the most credible way. However, when an actor gives a truly iconic performance, it’s probably difficult to see them beyond that role. When you see someone play a truly inspiring hero, it’s seemingly unacceptable to distance themselves from that. While some actors prefer to stick to the same kind of character throughout their careers, others dare to be out of bounds to play both heroes and villains.
As both the good and evil, these actors shone, making their characters iconic. To successfully embody both roles, they must have tremendous acting skills and the ability to adapt.
Below are actors who managed to play heroes and villains in movies with excellent results. Click here, here, and here to read more of our articles.

#1 Ian McKellen

movieclips, Ian McKellenSource: New Line Cinema, Marvel

Ian McKellen is an experienced actor, starring in over 120 films and series. One of his most iconic roles is Gandalf, a renowned wizard helping restore peace to the land in “The Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” series. In contrast, he portrays Magneto, as one of the key villains in the X-Men universe.

#2 Helena Bonham Carter

movieclips, Helena Bonham CarterSource: Transmission Films, Willow Malfoy

Helena Bonham Carter is best known for appearing as Bellatrix Lestrange in the “Harry Potter” series. After this role, she returned to the cinema as Queen Elizabeth in The King’s Speech, in which she won the BAFTA award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

#3 Heath Ledger

movieclips, Heath LedgerSource: Movieclips Classic Trailers, Flashback FM

Not only does Heath Ledger land the villain but the hero. He also took some iconic roles such as William Thatcher from A Knight’s Tale and the Joker from The Dark Knight. However, fulfilling his roles perfectly had an impact on his mental health.

#4 Hugo Weaving

movieclips, Hugo WeavingSource: A Band Apart, A Band Apart

While playing Elrond, the Half-Elven Lord of Rivendell in “The Lord of the Rings”, Hugo Weaving becomes a bad guy, appearing as Agent Smith in “The Matrix”.

#5 Anthony Hopkins

movieclips, Anthony HopkinsSource: Movie Screencaps, Movieclips

One of the most iconic villain roles that brought Anthony Hopkins numerous awards is Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. In “Thor”, he becomes a good guy, appearing as Odin.

#6 Meryl Streep

movieclips, Meryl StreepSource: Movieclips Classic Trailers, Movieclips Classic Trailers

Meryl Streep is considered the best actress of her generation. One of her best-known roles, especially for those who love fashion, is Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. Moreover, her portrayal of Donna as a light-hearted mother steals millions of hearts.

#7 Johnny Depp

movieclips, Johnny DeppSource: Movie Screencaps, Movie Screencaps

Johnny Depp has many iconic roles in his career. One of his first important roles was Edward Scissorhands in the movie of the same name. 17 years later, he surprised viewers when successfully switching from scissor blades to a straight razor, appearing as Sweeney Todd in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”.

#8 Joe Pesci

Joe Pesci, movieclipsSource: 20th Century Studios, Movieclips Classic Trailers

We can’t forget the character Harry Lime in “Home Alone”, one of the most-watched movies. Another great comedy where Pesci plays a lead role of a good fella Vinny is My Cousin Vinny.

#9 Chris Evans

movieclips, Chris EvansSource: Movie Screencaps, Movieclips Trailer

Aside from being a full-time Captain America, he also played in a dystopian movie called Snowpiercer and in the romantic drama “Before We Go”.

#10 Angelina Jolie

movieclips, Angelina JolieSource: Paramount Pictures, Movie Screencaps

Throughout her career, Angelina Jolie won numerous prestigious awards. One of her memorable roles was in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, where she played the lead protagonist. However, her portrayal of evil fairy in the movie “Maleficent” leave a great impression on viewers’ minds.

#11 David Tennant

movieclips, David TennantSource: Doctor Who, Just Tennant

David Tennant is considered one of the greatest actors in Scotland. One of his signature roles is the Tenth Doctor in the TV series Doctor Who. When starring as Kilgrave in the TV series “Jessica Jones”, he showed his “villain” side.

#12 Gary Oldman

movieclips, Gary OldmanSource: DC, Gaumont

Gary Oldman is regarded as a man of many faces, starring in numerous movies. He not only plays James Gordon, commissioner of the Gotham City Police in the Batman series of films but Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg, the main antagonist bent on destroying life on Earth in The Fifth Element.

#13 Christoph Waltz

movieclips, Christoph WaltzSource: A Band Apart, A Band Apart

Christoph Waltz fulfills his roles so perfectly in two movies: a good guy as Dr. King Schultz in 2012’s Django Unchained and a bad guy as Hans Landa in 2009’s Inglourious Basterds, respectively.
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