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32 Actors Who Have Blown Us Away With Their Range

We know that's the point of acting, but still...

by ,

1. Tilda Swinton

Universal Pictures, The Weinstein Company, Buena Vista Pictures / Via Buzzfeed

What you know them from: Trainwreck, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Snowpiercer, The Chronicles of Narnia film series.

Why they have range: There’s no denying that Tilda really is a queen of acting – so much so that she played three separate and distinct characters in the movie Suspiria and nailed every one of them! She can shapeshift like nobody’s business, playing everything from fantasy characters to trashy comic foils, and tortured mothers to corrupt leaders. Perhaps it’s her beginnings in the theatre and in arthouse cinema that make Tilda such a versatile actor – whatever it is, long live the queen!

2. Robin Williams

20th Century Fox, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Fox Searchlight Pictures / Via Buzzfeed

What you know them from: Aladdin, One Hour Photo, Dead Poets Society, Mrs. Doubtfire.

Why they have range: My favourite rumour about Robin Williams is that whilst studying at the Juilliard performing arts school, his professor actually told him there was nothing the school could teach him that he hadn’t already mastered. Imagine being THAT good that a teacher says that! Whether it’s true or not, I think we can all agree that Robin was a huge acting talent, bringing his trademark comedy to every indelible part he played, but also having the insight and ability to play sincere dramatic roles if required to.

3. Jamie Foxx

Universal Pictures, The Weinstein Company, Sony Pictures Releasing / Via Buzzfeed

What you know them from: Django Unchained, Dreamgirls, Ray, Annie.

Why they have range: You don’t get a man who can sing, act, and dance like Jamie too often. The man is truly metamorphic, taking on roles as various as Will Stacks in Annie, Django Freeman in Django Unchained, and the supervillain Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man. He’s also done sitcoms, full-on musicals, and biopics including the Ray Charles movie, cos, you know, he can SAAANG!

4. Alexis Bledel

Hulu, The WB, Miramax Films / Via Buzzfeed

What you know them from: Gilmore Girls, Sin City, The Handmaid's Tale, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.

Why they have range: Stay with me here! You’d be forgiven for thinking Alexis is always playing a “valedictorian” type, as seen in her most famous role of Rory in Gilmore Girls. Alexis indeed went on to play similar characters in movies such as Post Grad and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but she has also taken on roles that demonstrate her true range, including playing a double-crossing sex worker in Sin City and, most notably, Emily in The Handmaid's Tale, for which she has received critical acclaim.

5. Heath Ledger

Buena Vista Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Focus Features / Via Buzzfeed

What you know them from: The Dark Knight, 10 Things I Hate About You, A Knight's Tale, Brokeback Mountain.

Why they have range: Heath’s talent for filling up a role and winning over audiences is legendary – he did it in several brilliant rom-coms, a host of amazing dramas, and perhaps most famously as the supervillain The Joker in the Dark Knight, a performance which delighted viewers and critics alike. Heath can completely disappear into a role, so much so that you don’t know him from Ennis (Brokeback Mountain) or Patrick (10 Things I Hate About You). It’s heartbreaking really to think what other incredible performances he still had left to give.

6. Melissa McCarthy

Universal Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, The WB / Via Buzzfeed

What you know them from: Gilmore Girls, Bridesmaids, Spy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Why they have range: Melissa McCarthy played adorable, upbeat chef Sookie St. James in Gilmore Girls for years before she sidestepped her way into several blockbuster comedy roles in movies such as Bridesmaids, Spy, and The Heat. It’s safe to say she kills it in the arena of comedy, but her performance in the profound biopic Can You Ever Forgive Me? really showed off Melissa’s talent for serious acting as well as bombastic comic relief roles.

7. Dev Patel

E4, Pathé Distribution, Lionsgate/Searchlight Pictures / Via Buzzfeed

What you know them from: Slumdog Millionaire, Skins, Lion, The Personal History of David Copperfield.

Why they have range: If you’re a brit born between 1990 and 2000, you’ll know Dev Patel from audacious teen drama Skins, where he played dorky sex-pest Anwar. Who knew that years later he’d be burning up the silver screen in acclaimed films like Lion and Slumdog Millionaire? Since then he’s returned to comedic roles, tried his hand at sci-fi, and taken on lead roles in historical dramas too, proving in every movie that there’s more to Dev than anyone could’ve conceived!

8. Paul Bettany

United International Pictures, Sony Pictures Releasing, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / Via Buzzfeed

What you know them from: Wimbledon, The Da Vinci Code, A Beautiful Mind, the MCU.

Why they have range: One of the most eclectic actors in Hollywood has to be Paul Bettany. The man has dabbled in every conceivable genre and has never failed to offer up sincere and nuanced portrayals of everything from a pious, self-flagellating monk, to an invincible android in the MCU. He can be funny, charming, other-worldly and downright bizarre AF. And, he’s an incredible voice actor to boot!

9. Charlize Theron

Fox, Newmarket Films, Paramount Pictures / Via Buzzfeed

What you know them from: Bombshell, Mad Max: Fury Road, Monster, Arrested Development.

Why they have range: The high priestess of versatile acting, and probably one of the first actors anyone thinks of when they imagine actors with range, Charlize can truly do it all. She can do drama, she can do comedy (she’s HILARIOUS in Arrested Development), she can do fantasy, and she can rock an action movie. She’s even a confident imitator of actual people, as in her acclaimed performance as Megyn Kelly in Bombshell. She’s an unstoppable shapeshifting force of nature and I’ll watch absolutely anything she stars in!

10. Ralph Fiennes

Sony Pictures Releasing, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures / Via Buzzfeed

What you know them from: Maid in Manhattan, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Schindler's List, the Harry Potter films.

Why they have range: Ralph has been wowing audiences and critics alike since in 1992. He’s played a huge range of parts covering historical fiction, romance, comedy, fantasy, and animation, and he’s regularly thought of as one of our biggest acting talents! I mean, who else could play Lord Voldemort with such searing intensity and vivacity? He really is a metamorphic leading man!

11. John Leguizamo

New Line Cinema, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate / Via Buzzfeed

What you know them from: Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, Spawn, the John Wick films, the Ice Age films.

Why they have range: The first time I encountered John on screen was in Moulin Rouge! where he played the real historical figure Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. He was so camp and bizarre and it was just perfect! I was gobsmacked to learn that his many other roles are just as compelling and yet completely different every time. Though his Toulouse role is still my favourite, he kills it in every film he’s in whether it’s action, romance, animation, or comedy!

12. Toni Collette

Fox Searchlight Pictures, A24, Universal Pictures / Via Buzzfeed

What you know them from: In Her Shoes, About a Boy, Knives Out, Hereditary, Hitchcock.

Why they have range: Over the years, Toni has racked up some amazing and eclectic roles and I think we can all agree that in every single one of them she has delivered incredible performances. Not only does she always look different in every movie, but she transforms *with* the character and consistently gives viewers a memorable and authentic idea of whomever she is playing. I mean, she’s SO versatile that she was chosen to portray a woman coping with dissociative identity disorder in United States of Tara – not just anyone could pull that off!

13. Hugo Weaving

Gramercy Pictures, New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures / Via Buzzfeed

What you know them from: The Lord of the Rings films, V for Vendetta, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, The Matrix trilogy.

Why they have range: Hugo’s voice has become the stuff of legends, and though his fast-talking articulate tone doesn’t change too often (thank goodness), everything else does. He’s played villains, heroes, and drag queens all with aplomb. I look forward to every time he’s in something, because I know he’s gonna nail it!

14. Rami Malek

20th Century Studios, 20th Century Fox, Fox / Via Buzzfeed

What you know them from: Mr. Robot, Bohemian Rhapsody, The War at Home, the Night at the Museum films.

Why they have range: During the last decade or so of his career, Rami has exploded on screen and nabbed several high profile parts which truly showcase his incredible range as an actor. I must say I loved him as Kenny in The War At Home, but as soon as I saw him as Pharaoh Ahkmenrah, I knew there was more to Rami than good sitcom timing. Since then he’s given us some incredible performances, including as Freddie Mercury in the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. He’ll soon take to our screens again as Bond villain Safin in the upcoming film No Time to Die.

15. Edward Norton

Universal Pictures, New Line Cinema, Focus Features / Via Buzzfeed

What you know them from: The Illusionist, The Incredible Hulk, Fight Club, American History X, Moonrise Kingdom.

Why they have range: Ever since his film debut in Primal Fear during the mid ‘90s, Edward has taken on numerous challenging roles that showcase his incredible versatility as an actor. He even played a set of twins in Leaves of Grass that were completely in every way! Some know him for his superhero characters, some for his incredible dramatic roles, and some know him as a Wes Anderson regular. However you choose to consume Edward’s acting talent you can rest assured of one fact – you’ll never see the same thing twice!

16. Paul Dano

Paramount Vantage, Fox Searchlight Pictures, BBC/A&E Networks / Via Buzzfeed

What you know them from: Little Miss Sunshine, War and Peace, There Will Be Blood, 12 Years a Slave.

Why they have range: There was a moment when Paul could’ve been another (no shade) Superbad kind of actor, especially when you think of his earlier roles in The Girl Next Door and Fast Food Nation, but he really turned it around with his later performances in acclaimed dramas like Little Miss Sunshine, 12 Years a Slave, There Will Be Blood, and the historical TV drama War and Peace. Nowadays, we can rely on Paul to deliver in funny roles as well as more serious ones. He’ll also be playing The Riddler in the upcoming Batman film, so we’ll get to see him in supervillain mode too!

17. Leonardo DiCaprio

20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures

What you know them from: Romeo + Juliet, Titanic, The Wolf Of Wall Street, The Revenant.

Why they have range: Honestly, Leo's whole career has been a lesson in range. From Shakespearian desire in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, to a gaudy and morally corrupt Jordan Beflort in the black comedy The Wolf Of Wall Street, Leo has meandered through genres and styles. Lest us not forget his role in 2015's The Revenant which was perhaps his most intense to date and the *finally* nabbed him his Oscar.

18. Olivia Colman

Channel 4, BBC Studios, Fox Searchlight Pictures

What you know them from: Peep Show, The Favourite, Fleabag.

Why they have range: For almost every Brit, Olivia will be forever remembered as the bumbling yet assertive Sophie in comedy series Peep Show, but she's since proven she's got far more strings to her bow. From the snide stepmother in Fleabag to playing the crotchety Queen Anne in the period black comedy, The Favourite, Olivia always makes an impression and manages to encapsulate the essence of a character.

19. John C. Reilly

Miramax Films, Columbia Pictures, Picturehouse Entertainment

What you know them from: Chicago, Step Brothers, We Need To Talk About Kevin, The Lobster.

Why they have range: If you're only familiar with John C. Reilly as Dale Doback in 2008's Step Brothers or as the voice of the protagonist in Wreck-It Ralph then you've got a lot to learn. Since starting his career all the way back in 1989, Reilly's talents have proven to be genre-spanning. From his role as the loyal-to-a-fault Amos Hart in Chicago, to his aforementioned hilarity in Stepbrothers, and his regular appearances in indie films, Reilly obviously looks for a challenge whenever he picks up a script.

20. Matthew McConaughey

Paramont Pictures, Focus Features, Warner Bros. Television Distribution

What you know them from: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Dallas Buyers Club, Interstellar, True Detective.

Why they have range: Let's not beat around the bush here, when McConaughey first came onto the scene he was definitely a rom-com staple. His southern charm, and beautiful bone structure made him a no brainer of a leading man or love interest. But since then, he's taken on grittier roles on both the silver and small screens with huge success – for instance, his moving portrayal of Ron Woodroof in the biopic, Dallas Buyers Club earned him an Oscar.

21. Will Smith

Warner Bros. Television Distribution, Sony Pictures Releasing

What you know them from: The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, Men In Black, Ali, Seven Pounds.

Why they have range: Will Smith has been on our screens forever, and during that time he's managed to build up quite the character portfolio. From his loveable and comedic role as the Fresh Prince, to the haunted Tim Thomas in the heartbreaking Seven Pounds, and his portrayal of the legendary Muhammad Ali in Ali where the fight scenes featured *real* boxing, rather than Hollywood-esque "boxing".

22. Steve Carell

NBCUniversal Television Distribution, Sony Pictures Classics, Amazon Studios

What you know them from: The 40-Year-Old Virgin, The Office, Foxcatcher, Beautiful Boy.

Why they have range: Steve is another actor who has made the switch from comedy to grittier dramatic roles in the bat of an eyelid. While you might be well accustomed to watching Carell's special brand of awkward comedy as Michael Scott in the American version of The Office, his role in Foxcatcher proved that he's also able to embody something much more sinister. As an inbetween, his take as the embattled dad of a drug addict in Beautiful Boy demonstrated his more sensitive and tender side.

23. Lupita Nyong'o

Fox Searchlight Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

What you know them from: 12 Years A Slave, Black Panther, Us, Star Wars.

Why they have range: Lupita's acting talents know no end, so it's no wonder that she's already proven herself to have the range. Who can forget her Oscar-winning role as the enslaved Patsey in the biographical drama 12 Years A Slave? Since then, Lupita has taken a starring turn in the Marvel Universe as Nakia in Black Panther and even added a voice role in the blockbuster Star Wars franchise to her CV. In Jordan Peele's psychological horror film, Us, Lupita took in double the work by portraying Adelaide and her doppelgänger, Red. This dual role alone is proof of her ability to utilise her vocal, physical, and emotive range.

24. Christian Bale

Sony Pictures Releasing, Lions Gate Films, 20th Century Fox

What you know them from: Little Women, American Psycho, Batman, Ford v Ferrari.

Why they have range: Christian Bale is known to be a bit of a physical shapeshifter – he's able to completely change his appearance depending on the role he's due to play. But Bale's filmography is similarly shapeshifting – from playing the sweet, but misguided Laurie in Little Women to the terrifyingly cold Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, and more recently, portraying the humble yet ambitious Ken Miles in Ford v Ferrari.

25. Joaquin Phoenix

DreamWorks Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures

What you know them from: Gladiator, Signs, Mary Magdalene, Her, Joker.

Why they have range: From his time as a child actor (billed as Leaf Phoenix) to now, Joaquin has constantly chosen projects that have stretched his acting chops. He manages to embody every role that he accepts, whether its the power-hungry Commodus in Gladiator or the lonely and sensitive Theodore Twombly in Her. The man has even played Jesus and then the terrifying Joker!

26. Laura Linney

Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, Netflix

What you know them from: Love Actually, The Truman Show, The Nanny Diaries, Nocturnal Animals, Ozark.

Why they have range: Linney's breakthrough appearance as Jim Carrey's duplicitous wife in The Truman Show kickstarting an illustrious career that has traversed the stage, and silver and small screens. If you're not sure that Linney has the range, I implore you to watch her in Love Actually and then follow that up with a few episodes of Ozark, then you'll have to agree.

27. Willem Dafoe

The Samuel Goldwyn Company, 20th Century Fox, A24

What you know them from: The Fault in our Stars, The Grand Budapest Hotel, To Live And Die In LA, Wild At Heart, Spiderman, The Florida Project.

Why they have range: Dafoe's acting range is well documented – just taking a look at the directors he's worked with gives you an idea of how he can easily switch between moods and projects. Dafoe's angular features have lent themselves well to his penchant for playing villainous foes in Wild at Heart, To Live And Die In LA and as Norman Osbornin several Spiderman films. But don't be mistaken, he's also played the protective Bobby in The Florida Project, had a voice role in Finding Nemo and the follow-up Finding Dory, and even played reclusive author Peter Van Houten in teen movie The Fault In Our Stars.

28. Daniel Kaluuya

Channel 4, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

What you know them from: Skins, Get Out, Black Panther, Widows,

Why they have range: While he still may be early on in his career, Daniel has made it known that his intention is to play varied and dynamic characters. In more proof that the British teen sitcom was an incubator for future Hollywood talent, Kaluuya first came to prominence as Posh Kenneth in Skins. A role in Black Mirror caught the eye of Jordan Peele and he was cast in the horror, Get Out where his talent for suspenseful storytelling earned him an Oscar nod. Since then, he's starred in Black Panther as the treacherous W'Kabi, and in Queen & Slim as a fugitive on the run with his Tinder date.

29. Meryl Streep

20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures

What you know them from: Mamma Mia!, The Devil Wears Prada, The Iron Lady, Sophie's Choice.

Why they have range: This one is fairly obvious, amirite? If you've never seen a Meryl Streep film in your life, I can only assume that you've been avoiding them for some misguided reason because she's been busy. With her roles as Margaret Thatcher (The Iron Lady) and Miranda Priestly (The Devil Wears Prada) she proved she can play indomitable bosses, while Mamma Mia! and It's Complicated showed off her rom-com credentials, and her role in the heartbreaking Sophie's Choice saw her portray a Holocaust survivor.

30. Sam Rockwell

Paramount Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures

What you know them from: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Green Mile, Moon, Jojo Rabbit, Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri.

Why they have range: While Rockwell has made a career out of playing generally unlikeable characters, his roles have varied in tone and execution. From his role as a Hitler youth club leader in JoJo Rabbit, to his portrayal of a racist police officer in Three Billboards. In a change of pace, Rockwell has also voice acted in Trolls World Tour and appeared in the Iron Man franchise.

31. Denzel Washington

The Samuel Goldwyn Company, Warner Bros., Universal Pictures

What you know them from: Much Ado About Nothing, Malcolm X, Philadelphia, Training Day, Fences, Flight.

Why they have range: Two-time Oscar winner, Denzel Washington is a Hollywood legend for good reason. With a talent for playing real life people, he's managed to embody everyone from human rights activitist Malcolm X, to American drug trafficker Frank Lucas in American Gangster. As well as stepping into the shoes of someone else, he's featured in Shakespearian adaptations, romantic dramas, sci-fi thrillers, and cop dramas, to name just a few of the genres he has mastered.

32. Philip Seymour Hoffman

Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate Films

What you know them from: Boogie Nights, Twister, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Along Came Polly, The Hunger Games.

Why they have range: From his well-known appearance as a determined storm chaser in Twister, to his time as the cruel socialite, Freddie Miles in The Talented Mr. Ripley, Hoffman was a scene stealer. Known for being a character actor, his roles were always interesting, eccentric, and often times deplorable. His talents also meant that he appeared in everything from rom-coms like Along Came Polly, to psychological thrillers like Magnolia, and in blockbuster franchises like The Hunger Games. He was, undoubtably, one of the greats.

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