Can stars ever shake off famous TV characters?

By: BBC
Stars and famous TV characters
Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington are famous for their roles in GOT while Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons are stars of The Big Bang Theory

GAME of Thrones, The Big Bang Theory, Orange is the New Black and Homeland are just some of the huge TV hits that are coming to an end in 2019.

On screen, they don't have much in common but off screen many of the actors will be leaving behind the role that's made them famous.

Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow in GOT, says he will never try to distance himself from his much-loved character.

But he's "looking forward to whatever the next thing is".

"I think it's best not to try and plan or predict, just see what comes around the corner," he says.

So can you shake off the TV character that people know and love you for? We've taken a look at previous big TV hits to find out:

Friends

David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc were the stars of Friends

Back in the early 90s we were introduced to a group of friends - Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Chandler, Ross and Joey - whose lives we followed for 10 years.

It was a massive series which saw more than a third of UK viewers (8.6 million people) tune in for the last episode in May 2004.

Reruns on Comedy Central, Netflix and Channel 5 have meant the characters have remained in our lives ever since.

Jennifer Aniston, who played Rachel, is probably the one who's gone on to have the biggest on-screen career - starring in films such as Horrible Bosses and Marley and Me.


Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox have remained firm friends
But arguably none of the stars have done much to make you forget they were in Friends.

Scott Bryan, TV editor of BuzzFeed, says how much you've seen an actor in a role can play a part in whether they'll find it hard to move on in their career.

"If your show is not repeated that much then it allows you to move on from the role in a big way.

"Friends is repeated a huge amount, so are shows like The Big Bang Theory and will be for years after they end.

"So those actors can't really escape from those roles as easily."

Downton Abbey

Dame Maggie Smith, left, and Hugh Bonneville were already big names before Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey was a smash hit for ITV during its run from 2010 to 2015 and propelled most of the cast into global superstardom.

A lot of the cast were already well-known so there was no fear of the likes of Dame Maggie Smith or Hugh Bonneville being typecast.

But for the younger stars like Dan Stevens, who played Matthew Crawley, and Michelle Dockery, who starred as Lady Mary Crawley, it's opened the doors to Hollywood.


Dan Stevens appeared alongside Emma Watson in Beauty and the Beast
Dan went on to star as the Beast in Disney's recent adaptation of Beauty and the Beast and bagged the lead role in US TV series Legion.

While Michelle Dockery has starred in US dramas Godless and Good Behaviour.

Scott points out that the reason they've been able to carve a path in Hollywood is because the show is treated "differently here than in the US".

"People here think of it as a Sunday night teatime show while internationally it's so highly regarded that they can go and have a very different career abroad."

The Inbetweeners

The Inbetweeners ran for three series on E4 and also was made into two feature-length films

A decade ago, The Inbetweeners took four relatively unknown young actors - Simon Bird, James Buckley, Blake Harrison and Joe Thomas - and made them famous.

Simon Bird has previously said he's so closely associated with his character Will McKenzie, people still shout affectionate obscenities at him.

But he's managed to find other roles in everything from West End plays to the Channel 4 sitcom Friday Night Dinner.

All of the actors have kept working but you could argue their roles since have been pretty similar to their characters in The Inbetweeners.


David Tennant was able to shake off only being known as The Doctor
The quickest and easiest way to be typecast is to take on the same type of role.

But you can break out of it. When you think of David Tennant - do you only think of Doctor Who?

"Doctor Who is quite a poisoned chalice because it sticks around that you were one of the doctors for the rest of your career," Scott explains.

"But then David Tennant was in Broadchurch for so long and that was a completely different character.

"So choosing a role that is so far removed from the one he had before, you kind of forget that he was in Doctor Who."

Breaking Bad

Aaron Paul, left, and Bryan Cranston have moved on with their careers but are still embracing their Breaking Bad roles 
The show was on between 2008-2013 but if you're like me, you'll have binged watched the lot on Netflix.

Bryan Cranston was already a household name for his role in Malcolm in the Middle.

So although he will be remembered as crystal meth producer Walter White for all time, he hasn't struggled to move on with his career.

As for Aaron Paul, he wasn't as famous beforehand so probably had a bigger challenge.

He's been a voice in the animated show Bojack Horseman since 2014 but hasn't been in many other big hitters.

Bob Odenkirk, who played Saul Goodman, was a comedian and writer before Breaking Bad - but he's made the most of the popularity of his character with the spin-off series Better Call Saul.

Giancarlo Esposito was nominated and won awards for playing Gus Fring, he has been in the business since 1979 and has continued to do well with roles in the Maze Runner films and Westworld.

Skins

Dev Patel, right, won the Bafta for best supporting actor for Lion
Nicholas Hoult was already known as the adorable star of About A Boy, but he was all grown up when he starred in Skins as Tony Stonem.

But the rest of the young cast were all found through open casting calls.

And from that, the show has produced some of the best British young talent.

Dev Patel was nominated for an Oscar for his role in the film Lion while Jack O'Connell was picked to star in Angelina Jolie's epic war film Unbroken.

Joe Dempsie and Hannah Murray have both had big roles in Game of Thrones while Nicholas has starred in the X-Men film franchise.

Then there's Daniel Kaluuya, another Oscar nominee for his role in Get Out.


Daniel Kaluuya, centre, is now a Hollywood star
Jack O'Connell has previously credited the whole Skins team for the actors' future successes.

"I think they knew if they were going to identify that genre, that era, that generation, they needed people on the ground level," he said.

"A writing team that understood, they got that right first and then I guess they chose to cast exciting people.

"I feel very fortunate to be involved in the show but I don't think it was a coincidence that we all came through there."

Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory, is the highest paid TV actor in the US

Now if you are starting to worry about your favourite actors from Game of Thrones or The Big Bang Theory and what they can do next, please don't.

According to Forbes magazine, The Big Bang Theory cast are among the highest paid actors in the US - and the GOT cast aren't doing too badly either.

So if you don't see them acting anymore, maybe they've taken early retirement.