Playing Against Type

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"In interviews, Richard Kelly said that he deliberately cast people against type. Bravo, sir. Home run. Never in the history of film has an actress ever appeared more ridiculously out of place. I cannot imagine an actor being more misused than Cheri Oteri in Southland Tales. Well, Jon Lovitz could show up and kill people. But, really, what are the chances of that?"

The hiring of an actor to play a certain part which differs fundamentally from roles the actor is famous for or has played in the past. For instance, an actress who is known for playing kindly old grandma types suddenly cast as a scheming murderess. This is generally done when an actor wants to 'stretch his/her wings' or 'try something different'. It usually leads to an Oscar for the actor in question. Often, it can be very useful in The Reveal. Comedies will frequently use this trope for laughs; a wacky line will often sound much funnier coming out of the mouth of someone you'd never expect to say such a thing.

The polar opposite of Typecasting. A source of Hidden Depths. Can lead to What the Hell, Casting Agency? when it doesn't work.

For specific forms of Playing Against Type, see Tom Hanks Syndrome, Leslie Nielsen Syndrome, and New Sound Album.

Examples of Playing Against Type are listed on these subpages: