Nine Actors Who Played the Same Character in Different Films

Peter O’Toole as Henry II
Some actors are born to play certain roles. So much so that they'll be cast as the same person in two entirely different movies – and I'm not talking about sequels, spinoffs, remakes, or cameos in which they spoof themselves. Read this list and you'll see what I mean.
  1. IAN HART as John Lennon. Mainstream moviegoers know Hart as the turbaned Professor Quirrell in the first Harry Potter installment. A decade earlier, however, the Liverpudlian actor made his name playing John Lennon in the 1991 indie The Hours and Times, a dramatization of Lennon's relationship with Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Hart's work as Lennon was so impressive that, three years later, he was cast as Lennon in an altogether different Beatles biopic, Backbeat.
  2. JUDI DENCH as Queen Victoria. Britain's handful of queens have inspired countless films and TV shows, and Dame Judi has played at least two of those queens. While she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her glorified cameo as Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love, she spent much more screen time as Victoria in 1997's Mrs. Brown and in 2017's Victoria & Abdul.
  3. PETER O'TOOLE as King Henry II. In a rare feat, O'Toole garnered two Oscar nominations for playing this English monarch: first in 1964's Becket, then in 1968's The Lion in Winter. (O'Toole never won an Oscar in competition.) The films shared no other personnel.
  4. CHARLTON HESTON as Andrew Jackson. We hop across the pond to find Chuck playing Old Hickory, first in 1953's The President's Lady (which focused on Jackson's wife Rachel, who was accused of bigamy), then in 1958's The Buccaneer, about French pirate Jean Lafitte (Yul Brynner!) and the Battle of New Orleans. Outdoing himself, Heston later played Mark Antony in two separate Shakespeare adaptations: Julius Caesar (1970) and Antony and Cleopatra (1972).
  5. MICHAEL KEATON as Ray Nicolette. Owing to rights issues, it's uncommon to find an actor playing the same fictitious character in films that aren't part of the same franchise. (You can't count Sean Connery as James Bond in Never Say Never Again, even if it wasn't an "official" Bond film, because it was just a remake of Thunderball.) But just one year after Michael Keaton's supporting turn as FBI agent Ray Nicolette in 1997's Jackie Brown, he played Nicolette again – this time uncredited – in Steven Soderbergh's Out of Sight. Both were adaptations of Elmore Leonard novels, but were made by different studios, different producers, different everything.
  6. RON MOODY as Merlin. Some may call Merlin a historical figure, but come on: he was pure make-believe. The late Moody, who you're most likely to remember as Fagin in Oliver!, played the wizard in Disney's 1979 comedy Unidentified Flying Oddball and again in Disney's 1995 fantasy A Kid in King Arthur's Court. Despite the Mouse House imprimatur, the two films are unrelated.
  7. JAMAL WOOLARD as Christopher "Biggie" Wallace. Biggie Smalls, Notorious B.I.G., whatever you want to call the slain rapper – when you need someone to play him in a movie, you call Jamal Woolard. Plucked from obscurity to headline the 2009 Biggie biopic Notorious, Woolard reprised the role in 2017 for the Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez on Me. He's also credited as Biggie in a little-seen 2016 urban thriller called The Return.
  8. JAMES GARNER as Wyatt Earp. For someone of my generation, James Garner is considered primarily a TV actor, thanks to The Rockford Files. But he was a genuine movie star throughout the 1960s, and he received top billing as Earp in 1967's Hour of the Gun. Garner's big-screen career stayed afloat after Rockford, as evidenced by his second turn as Earp in Sunset, a 1988 Blake Edwards comedy costarring Bruce Willis, then testing the waters of movie stardom himself.
  9. IAN HOLM as Napoleon. We began with an Ian, and so we end with one. Holm was cast as France's favorite Emperor in Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits back in 1981. Two long decades later, the filmmakers behind The Emperor's New Clothes – no, I never heard of it either, but Siskel and Ebert gave it two thumbs up – realized that Holm made a pretty good Napoleon, so they cast him as their lead. In fact, Holm first played Napoleon on TV, in the 1974 BBC miniseries Napoleon and Love. Born to play the part indeed.