17 Actors Who Played the Same Character Years Later
These stars revisited the roles that made them famous—some even decades down the line.
Actors have more opportunities than ever to revisit the roles that made them household names, thanks to the endless Hollywood parade of reboots, revivals, and sequels of long-dormant properties. For example, Bill and Ted are going on another excellent time-traveling adventure; the upcoming Jurassic World movie is bringing some familiar faces back into the fold; and Michael Keaton is reportedly strapping on the Bat-cowl again for The Flash. Yes, there is no longer a statute of limitations on reprising iconic characters. And to celebrate that, here are some of our favorite times that actors played the same character years later. But as for stars who lost their big roles, here are 16 TV Actors Who Were Replaced Like It Was No Big Deal.
Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger
For 2019's Terminator: Dark Fate, Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger reprised their roles as Sarah Connor and the T-800 (AKA "Carl" in this flick). Aside from voice cameos and video game appearances, Hamilton last played action hero icon Sarah in Terminator 2: Judgment Day in 1991. Schwarzenegger did appear in 2015's Terminator Genisys, but that was after a 12-year absence from the franchise.
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In 2016, Renee Zellweger returned to the role of lovable singleton Bridget Jones after a 12-year hiatus. Colin Firth was also back as Bridget's off-and-on love, Mark Darcy, in Bridget Jones's Baby, but Hugh Grant took the film off—leading to an intriguing subplot involving the disappearance of his character, perpetual cad Daniel Cleaver.
Two decades went by between the sci-fi blockbuster Independence Day and its lesser loved sequel, 2016's Independence Day: Resurgence. Bill Pullman, who famously made the original's still frequently quoted rallying speech, was back as John Whitmore. And on top of that, Jeff Goldblum, Vivica A. Fox, and Brent Spiner all came back for another bout with the aliens, too.
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Harrison Ford is the king of returning to iconic movie roles. In 2017, 35 years after the original Blade Runner, he came back to play Rick Dekard in Blade Runner 2049. Later in this list, we'll talk about his reprisal of Han Solo in the new Star Wars trilogy. And in 2008's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, he dusted off his fedora and whip to once again play the adventuring archaeologist—19 years after Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Jamie Lee Curtis
If you're a slasher movie fan, chances are, you've enjoyed the decades-long arc of Laurie Strode, the Jamie Lee Curtis character introduced in 1978's Halloween. The longest gap between Laurie's appearances was between 1981's Halloween II and 1998's Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, but the 16 years that passed between Halloween: Resurrection and 2018's Halloween aren't anything to sneeze at either. Curtis is due back in at least two more movies in the franchise: Halloween Kills, set for 2021, and Halloween Ends, set for 2022.
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Will Smith and Martin Lawrence
Seventeen years went by between the second Bad Boys movie and the third. Bad Boys for Life, which came out just this year, saw Will Smith and Martin Lawrence return as two Miami police officers who still have what it takes to bring down a crime ring—even though they're not as young as they used to be.
Sharon Stone stepped back into the stilettos of novelist and killer Catherine Tramell for 2006's Basic Instinct 2, but this thriller isn't anywhere near as fun as the 1992 original. It currently has a dismal six percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
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Prior to 2009, the last time the late Leonard Nimoy had played Spock on the big screen was in 1991, in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. This is why fans flipped when he showed up in a cameo in 2009's Star Trek—the first of a reboot trilogy—as "Spock Prime," or rather, the original. Zachary Quinto played the franchise's new, younger version of the half-Vulcan character.
The original Star Wars cast
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens introduced the franchise's new lead trio of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), but it also brought back the stars who made the original trilogy a cultural phenomenon. Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford returned as Leia, Luke, and Han, for the first time since 1983's Return of the Jedi. The newer films also saw the comeback of original trilogy actors Billy Dee Williams (Lando), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), and Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine).
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Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis
It wasn't clear until the final moments of 2016's Split that it was a low-key sequel to the 2000 comic book-inspired thriller Unbreakable. After making a cameo in Split, Bruce Willis was back as reluctant superhero David Dunn in 2019's Glass, alongside his Unbreakable antagonist, Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson).
My Big Fat Greek Wedding was a massive surprise hit when it came out in 2002, even leading to a TV spinoff. But a full-fledged sequel didn't arrive in theaters until 2016. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 brought back Nia Vardalos (who also wrote both movies) as Toula, John Corbett as her husband Ian, and the rest of the original cast that played Toula's huge and endearingly nosy extended family.
The favorite of many fans, The Godfather Part II arrived in theaters in 1974. Sixteen years later, Al Pacino returned to the role of Michael Corleone for The Godfather Part III.
Donna is still the main character in 2018's Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, but for most of the movie, she's played by Lily James. Part sequel and part prequel to the 2008 musical comedy Mamma Mia!, this one follows young Donna through the wild summer when she conceived her daughter, while also showing grown-up Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) preparing for her own child and mourning her mom. While we can't believe they killed off Donna, Meryl Streep shows up to make a moving cameo and to sing with Cher and the rest of the cast over the credits.
Sylvester Stallone reprised another iconic role in 2019's Rambo: Last Blood, but it was his return as Rocky Balboa (nine years after the release of the sixth Rocky film) in 2015's Creed that got him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Creed II followed in 2018.
It took 23 years to get a sequel to Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 classic Psycho off the ground. In 1983, Anthony Perkins stepped back into the role of Norman Bates, now back at the Bates Motel after being discharged from a psychiatric institution. Psycho III and the TV movie Psycho IV: The Beginning followed, both also featuring Perkins, but you'll notice that none but the original end up on any best-of horror lists.
In 2010, Michael Douglas revisited one of his most enduring characters: Gordon Gekko of 1987's Wall Street. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps dramatized the 2008 financial crisis and brought hot, young actors like Carey Mulligan and Shia LaBeouf into the fold.
Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure came out in 1989, with Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey quickly following in 1991. It's taken 29 years, but the third movie in the trilogy, Bill & Ted Face the Music, is finally reaching audiences on Aug. 28. The movie brings back several actors from the totally excellent classics, including stars Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, who are also best friends IRL. Meanwhile, Reeves is set to reprise another of his most famous roles in the upcoming fourth film in The Matrix franchise.