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5 actors who embraced darker roles

Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in 1951's "The

Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in 1951's "The African Queen." Credit: AP / Turner Classic Films

Brad Pitt doesn't completely flip his image in "Fury," but though he's hardly the villain of the film, his character is clearly a well of troubled waters. Which brings to mind some other occasions when bona fide movie stars threw their personae to the wind, and let their inner psycho roll. Sometimes they even won Oscars. Here are a few standouts.

JOHN WAYNE In "Red River" (1948), the habitually heroic Duke thirsted for revenge against the man he'd considered his own son (Montgomery Clift). The performance prompted Wayne's most frequent director, John Ford, to remark, "I never knew the big [expletive] could act." Which he did a few years later as the equally vengeful Ethan Edwards in Ford's classic "The Searchers" (1956). The Academy ignored him in both films.

HUMPHREY BOGART He'd played sleazy weasels early in his career -- James Cagney got to kill him in "Angels With Dirty Faces" (1938) and "The Roaring Twenties" (1939) -- and then he played very cool good guys who pulled their earlobes and let Ingrid Bergman get on an airplane to Lisbon. In John Huston's "The African Queen" (1951), Bogart played against type as the drunk and eccentric Charlie Allnut, and won his only Oscar.

HENRY FONDA A real shocker: Fonda had always played the all-American good guy, an Okie you could count on ("The Grapes of Wrath," 1940), a sailor you could count on ("Mister Roberts," 1955), a president you could count on ("Fail-Safe," 1964). Then, in Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in the West" (1968), he played the blue-eyed murderer Frank, and threw his fans for a loop.

MARY TYLER MOORE A TV sitcom fixture of the '60s and '70s, Moore took on a totally different role as the unloving mother in Robert Redford's "Ordinary People" (1980), playing the part so convincingly that many longtime fans were deeply disturbed. (That's not Laura Petrie!) Moore got an Oscar nomination but lost to Sissy Spacek ("Coal Miner's Daughter").

CHARLIZE THERON The former Dior model went all down-market as the homicidal Aileen Wuornos in Patty Jenkins' harrowing "Monster" (2003). In one of the more dramatic and successful examples of playing against type, Theron won the best actress Oscar, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards.

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