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Be yourself: 5 actors of the '80s who are stuck playing themselves ... forever

There are worse things in life than being typecast, right? Right?!? So what if Jason Bateman always plays some version of Arrested Development's Michael Bluth these days. (His on-TV son Michael Cera always channels George Michael Bluth as well.)

And don't even get started on Jeremy Piven, who seems destined to have "Ari Gold" written on his tombstone rather than his own name.

The '80s were no different. For every Anthony Michael Hall (who went from geek to quarterback hero in light speed), there's a Clint Howard, who will find and play the geekiest role in any movie directed by his brother Ron Howard. Today's list is for all the Clint Howards in the world, who are no doubt at home, crying themselves to sleep in their giant Beverly Hills mansions.


5. SAMUEL L. JACKSON: Little did we know during School Daze and Coming To America that we'd be seeing the same Jackson over and over again. At least Spike Lee cut him loose -- a little -- to play Mister Senor Love Daddy in Do The Right Thing.

5a. JAMES SPADER (reader suggestion): Pretty creepy, right? People might say he's always playing a different version of Steff from Pretty in Pink. And why not? Well, I love think his best work is 1991's True Colors, where he plays the rare good guy role. The bad guy? See No. 4 on the list.

4. JOAN AND JOHN CUSACK: The protective but jaded sister. The melancholy and soft-hearted lovesick brother. The formula works in ... yeah, every movie they appear in together. (Though it's especially heartwarming in Say Anything.)

3. JULIA ROBERTS: We kinda like her in Mystic Pizza. Not so much in Steel Magnolias. You know how you can tell Julia Roberts is typecast as herself? Her best movie role to date: 1999's Notting Hill, where she just has to play an actress.

2. MOLLY RINGWALD: She may be rich (Breakfast Club) or poor (Pretty in Pink) or unappreciated (Sixteen Candles) or fashion-challenged (all of the above), but she's always the shy, quiet redhead next door. Her one big departure: 1988's Fresh Horses. And there's a reason it's never mentioned here.

1. WILLIAM SHATNER: "Kirk, you're still alive, my old friend."

Who are we missing?

Posted by Steve Spears at 01:13:11 PM on September 8, 2009