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Typecasting--Not

Tom Hanks' role as a hit man in 'Road to Perdition' is the latest example of an actor diversifying a resume. Sometimes it works, other times a performer never tries it again.

July 24, 2002|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jim Carrey has endured a bumpy road trying to make the transition from comedic genius to dramatic star. He won the Golden Globe and the hearts of critics and fans with "The Truman Show" (1998). Under director Peter Weir's guidance, he was able to transform his often out-of-control antics into a more dramatic style. But he hasn't had much luck since then. He won the Golden Globe playing the iconoclastic comic Andy Kaufman in "The Man in the Moon" (1999), but audiences stayed away, as they did for last year's "The Majestic," in which he gave it his Jimmy Stewart best in the languid melodrama that was part fable, part blacklist expose.

Sometimes an image makeover is just the ticket for a flagging career. Frank Sinatra, for example, was one of the biggest recording artists and movie stars during the 1940s, starring in one hit musical after another, such as "Anchors Aweigh" (1945) and "On the Town" (1949). But both his singing and acting career began to wane in the early 1950s. He left MGM and made a few forgettable films at other studios, such as "Meet Danny Wilson" (1952) and "Double Dynamite" (1951).

Sinatra's luck changed when he landed the role of the doomed Italian American soldier Maggio in "From Here to Eternity" (1953). He won the Oscar for best supporting actor and found himself one of the top dramatic actors in Hollywood. The following year he played an assassin in the cult film "Suddenly" and received another Oscar nomination for his gritty turn as a heroin addict in the 1955 film "The Man With the Golden Arm." Thereafter, Sinatra was better able to work in different genres.

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