10 Actors Who Improved At Something They Were Terrible At

Brad Pitt has mastered the art of introspective acting in recent years.

Vince Vaughn Brawl in Cell Block 99
RLJE Films

It's easy to take the craft of acting for granted - there are so many moving parts that go into the creation of a movie that an actor's performance is ultimately just a piece of it, albeit a major one.

Though many actors find their comfortable niche and then stick with it through most if not all of their careers, it's always hugely rewarding to see actors grow and improve over the years.

Whether listening to vocal criticism about their work or simply striving to do better, these 10 actors all took steps to elevate one of their major weaknesses as a performer.

Perhaps they were told they were unconvincing in a certain type of role and worked hard to change that perception, maybe they decided to turn down certain types of movies, or even just decided to try and be more prepared before shooting.

Every actor has a blind spot or something that they can improve upon, and these 10 performers had the self-awareness to actually do something about it. In some cases, it forever altered the trajectory of their careers...

10. Vince Vaughn - Being Physically Intimidating

Vince Vaughn Brawl in Cell Block 99
RLJ Entertainment

Up until a few years ago, Vince Vaughn's brand was firmly that of the sardonic funnyman - a harmless-looking guy who starred in dozens of Hollywood comedies playing smooth-talking wheeler-dealers and likeable man-children.

But Vaughn clearly wanted to be known for more than that, as evidenced by his performance as murderous hotel proprietor Norman Bates in Gus Van Sant's 1998 shot-for-shot Psycho remake.

The film as a whole was largely rejected by critics for failing to justify its existence, and many pointed to Vaughn as fatally miscast, that he failed to imbue his take on Bates with the quiet anxiety of Anthony Perkins' iconic turn.

But as Vaughn's comedy career began to hit the box office skids in the mid-2010s, he decided to try his hand at more dramatic work, and specifically roles which required him to have an imposing physical presence.

Vaughn received mixed reviews for his role as philosophical criminal Frank Semyon in True Detective's second season, but blew everyone away with his mesmerising performance in 2017's prison thriller Brawl in Cell Block 99.

As prisoner Bradley Thomas, Vaughn was completely transformed. Beyond his shaved head, his usual comic affect was nowhere to be seen, replaced with stone-faced, simmering rage, which regularly boiled over into brutal bursts of violence.

Throughout his career, it's been easy to forget that Vaughn stands at a towering 6 feet, 5 inches, such is the approachability of his comedy characters, yet Brawl so expertly used Vaughn's physicality in its favour, making him a genuinely terrifying force-of-nature.

Since Brawl's success, we've also seen Vaughn playing more physically unsettling characters, such as a corrupt cop in Dragged Across Concrete, and a serial killer in Freaky (though in that case, he spends most of the movie playing a teenage girl trapped in his body).

Brawl ensured we'd never look at Vaughn quite the same way again, and hopefully he'll take on more roles like this in the future.


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.