FANDOM


WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

In Real Life, this is more the rule than the exception with actors who've played villains. People are, on the whole, pleasant to each other, and this holds true for performers as well -- a performer who's pleasant on set improves the experience for everyone. Actors are always talking about how nice their co-workers were on set, while stories of being a genuine bastard are much rarer. Many performers will actively cultivate a Jerkass persona, feeling this makes them more marketable. This is especially true with comedians, because it can be easier to get away with saying shocking or controversial things for the sake of laughs if the public sees them as a jerk to begin with. This page is not for listing actors just because they've played both villains and nice guys.

See Nice Character, Mean Actor for the inverse.

Examples of Real Life/Mean Character, Nice Actor include:


Anime


Films -- Live-Action

  • Ashley Tisdale's most known role is Sharpay Evans, but Ashley herself is quite nice.
  • Kurtwood Smith, according to the commentary on the special edition of RoboCop.
  • Warner Richmond, who plays the disgusting villain with a hankering for eleven-and-a-half-year-old Jennie in the Exploitation Film Child Bride, was so nice to her actress--twelve-year-old Shirley Mills--between takes that she had a hard time pretending to hate him while the cameras were rolling.
  • Ernest Borgnine doesn't always play a bad guy, but someone who only knows him from, say, The Wild Bunch, From Here to Eternity, or Bad Day At Black Rock will be amazed at what a sweet, warm teddy bear of a man he is.
    • While filming Marty on location in the Bronx, Borgnine was continually harassed by locals who were mad because his character in From Here to Eternity kills Frank Sinatra's character.
  • Telly Savalas often played bad guys in movies and shows, but he was actually quite a gentleman, and even a ladies man.
  • Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch of the West, was a long-term advocate for children and animal charities, and famously appeared on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood to show that the witch was just a character she played.
    • And before becoming an actor she was a kindergarten teacher.
    • And she's a living example of the old saying about one's persona creeping into one's face by the time one becomes a senior citizen; the older Hamilton had a kindly, friendly face and was frequently cast in her final years as a sweet old grandmother type.
    • Judy Garland reportedly had a hard time ever being afraid of Hamilton.
  • Aaron Eckhart's talked in interviews about his first theatrical role as the sociopathic villain of the independent film In the Company of Men. He had to read psychology books on sociopathy to understand how to play the part, found himself sickened by the idea that people like that actually exist, and recounts how female friends he'd known previously, and even his own parents, were disturbed by him after seeing the movie because the character was just that despicable. He did go on to play several fairly nice guys (in one role, he succeeded at making an Amoral Attorney tobacco company spokesperson sympathetic) in a few other films before making his big theatrical break... as Two-Face in The Dark Knight.
  • Speaking of The Dark Knight, the movie's portrayal of The Joker was terrifying when he wasn't being funny (and even more terrifying when he was). But the actor who played him, Heath Ledger, was actually a pretty nice fellow. To give you an idea, he skateboarded on set, and talked about his daughter to fellow cast and crew members between takes, all while in his Joker ensemble! Michael Caine even noted in interviews that contrary to rumor, he didn't believe playing The Joker had anything to do with Ledger's death, saying that in between takes Ledger would be sitting in his chair, totally normal, usually asking Michael about old films he'd done and, again, talking about his daughter.
    • Christopher Nolan said that at one point they were filming a scene that Ledger wanted to keep working on, feeling that he was just getting it right, though it was nearing quitting time. They wound up filming quite a bit longer than anyone had intended, and afterward Ledger went around and personally thanked each crew member for staying late.
  • Chin Han, who played the calculating mobster accountant Lau in The Dark Knight, is actually very mild-mannered and kind in real life, and often talked about how in awe he was to be sharing almost every scene with Morgan Freeman on the movie.
  • Vernon Wells, who plays the child-kidnapping psychopath Bennett in Commando is a very nice person in real life, as Arnie himself recalls. This might explain why his next major villain, Ransik in Power Rangers Time Force has a Heel Face Turn by the end.
  • Clancy Brown, known for playing villains in The Shawshank Redemption, Carnivale, and Highlander is consistently cited by his coworkers as a warm, soft spoken, sensitive and kind man.
  • Amrish Puri, Indian professional wrestler turned-actor, who played the heart-ripping Mola Ram in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and several Bollywood villains is said by both Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg to have been a sweet and lovely man.
  • Gunnar Hansen has been repeatedly described by his costars as distinctly teddy bear-like. He is best known for playing Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
    • Kane Hodder, the most famous portrayer of Jason Voorhees, likewise has a reputation for being very friendly and enjoying meeting his fans. He also does volunteer work with burn victims.
  • On screen Moe Howard was the bullying "leader" of The Three Stooges always ready with a scowl or a smack to keep the other knuckleheads in line. Off-screen Moe Howard was a quiet, dedicated family man who loved weekend BBQs and working in his garden.
    • In fact, it was thanks to Moe that Larry Fine was able to retire later in life. He persuaded both Larry and Curley (both of whom were notoriously bad with money -- Curley spent his on nightlife and Larry gambled compulsively) to turn over a part of their salaries to him to invest for retirement. Although Curley died young (of a stroke in 1952), Larry was able to live comfortably on the proceeds from this arrangement until his death in 1975.
    • Likewise, ubiquitous Stooge supporting player Vernon Dent was usually typecast as the villain or the hot-tempered comic foil. In real life, Dent was known as being very easy-going, generous, and sociable.
  • Christopher Walken, in contrast to the numerous crazy and/or evil roles he's known for, has been married to the same woman for 40 years, a non-famous casting director who has never used her pull to get him a job.
  • Likewise with Steve Buscemi, who, for the most part, is famous for playing terrifying psychos or sleazy jackasses (or the occasional silent idiot). Many actors and directors who have worked with him say he is very sweet and funny. He also used to work as a firefighter before hitting it big as an actor. He still does some volunteer firefighting today, and even anonymously showed up at his old firehouse after 9/11 to help look for survivors amongst the rubble, working twelve hour shifts for a week.
    • In addition, Buscemi was stabbed three times when he stepped in the middle and tried to break up a fight between his famous friends and a local. Details are sketchy, but the local man is apparently the one who started the incident. How many of you would get stabbed to keep your friends from being beaten up?
  • Frank Langella is a sweet man who plays slimeballs, vampires, evil sorcerers, and Richard Nixon (and, jarringly, St. Thomas More in a 2008 Broadway revival of A Man for All Seasons).
    • He is also so humble that in the face of all his amazing, classic, and iconic performances, he will consistently and unhesitatingly pronounce Skeletor his favorite, simply because it was such fun.
  • Sinister-faced Danny Trejo mostly plays stoic thugs or lowlives. An ex-criminal himself who credits a 12-step program with turning his life around, he routinely speaks to youth groups and college students about avoiding the drug use and crime he engaged in while he was growing up and enjoys playing villains "to teach younger audiences that bad guys often die or go to prison, and that one should try to live a decent life." He has since developed a reputation among fans and co-stars as being one of the nicest, friendliest actors in Hollywood.
  • Andy Robinson is a pacifist and vegetarian, supposedly one of the kindest individuals you'll ever meet. He is best known for playing the Scorpio Killer from Dirty Harry. The role actually damaged his career, people were so scared of him.
    • In fact, he was so pacifistic that he flinched every time he fired his gun.
    • Ironically, Robinson got fired from Ryans Hope because of his portrayal of Scorpio.
    • He's also Larry / Frank in Hellraiser. Granted, as Larry he's a nice guy, but as Frank? "Come to Daddy..."
    • He also played Garak in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Now, Garak wasn't exactly a mean character, but he was an ex-spy who had killed a lot of people... and once said, "Don't tell me you'd object to a little genocide in the name of self-defense?"
      • When an episode featured Garak turning into a psychotic killer, Robinson resisted that direction for the character. It had been twenty years, and he was still worried that he might be typecast; the Scorpio Killer role was that defining for his career.
  • Anne Ramsey, who was most famous for playing mean old ladies in the '80s (such as Mama Fratelli in The Goonies or Momma in Throw Momma From The Train), was reportedly a very nice person backstage.
  • Similar to his entry in Funny Character Boring Actor, Robert De Niro is known for playing hard-as-nails cops, mobsters, criminals etc. In interviews he speaks softly and is about as threatening as a week old kitten soaked in milk.
    • This gets lampooned in a Mad TV skit where he is starring in a TV sitcom. His overly congenial personality unnerves his co-stars.
  • Michael Palin was cast as Jack Lint in Brazil specifically because he was a nice, affable guy, both off and on-screen. Gilliam figured this would make the character scarier, and he was right.
    • In A Fish Called Wanda, he plays a criminal who, among other things, spends the entire movie trying to assassinate an old lady. John Cleese has said in interviews that test audiences chose to ignore this (sometimes arguing that she wasn't a very nice old lady) and instead were distracted by concern every time something bad happened to him.
  • Robert Englund, aka Freddy Krueger, is known as a friendly and talkative fellow (which was stated as a problem when applying the make-up).
    • This is shown in Wes Craven's New Nightmare, where he plays both Freddy and himself.
  • Similar to the above, Ted White played Jason in Friday the 13 th: The Final Chapter (actually only the fourth film in the franchise). And was reluctant in the role, only picking it for the extra scratch. He didn't want to get friendly with the other actors and actresses because that might affect their performances, but during the filming of one scene, specifically when Samantha is in the nude on the raft about to die, the actress was so cold she got hypothermia. Ted White is the one who got them to stop filming for a second in order to get her out of the cold, and threatened to quit over it. When they finally relented, rumor has it the guy personally wrapped a blanket around her. This coming from the actor who was supposed to stab her from the water.
  • All of Peter Cushing's co-stars describe him as one of the nicest men you would ever meet, and yet his second-most famous role was as a planet-exploding fascist in Star Wars. His love for his wife was so strong that after she died, he tried to give himself a heart attack by running up and down stairs. Knowing this makes the 1972 Tales from the Crypt movie much more difficult to watch.
    • When presented on British national TV with a variety of rose named in honor of his late wife, he broke down and cried.
    • Carrie Fisher found it almost impossible to muster up any hatred for the character Grand Moff Tarkin while on set of Star Wars, because she had to deliver the lines to Cushing, whom she had grown to respect. That, and Cushing played the role in bathroom slippers, as costuming gave him a pair of boots that were too small...
      • It was also reported Carrie Fisher couldn't even get intimidated or scared in his presence, he was so polite and such a gentlemen off-screen.
    • Peter Cushing stated in interviews that he played the character of Dr. Who [sic] in the two 1960s Dalek films as a kind, adventurous grandfather because he'd grown tired of being known for his mad scientists in the Hammer Horror films.
  • Tom Felton, who plays the self-absorbed and cowardly Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, is quite charming and a competent musician.
    • He's said he's had experiences of young children coming to watch the set, and not being sure how to react to mean bully Draco coming up to greet them, all friendly like. Because Felton is friendly like. This doesn't occur to little kids.
      • He also says there have been multiple occasions where young children actually started crying in fear when they saw him in public.
    • Tom also constantly mentions how amusing it is to see Helena Bonham Carter play a half-crazy murderer when the camera rolls, and return to being a perfectly normal woman once the scene ends.
    • In the same series, Ralph Fiennes, described as a "really nice guy" by Daniel Radcliffe, plays the Lord Voldemort.
    • Also in Harry Potter, Fiona Shaw's portrayal of the mean-spirited Aunt Petunia caused children to run away from her when she went to the grocery store. She's quite a nice lady in person.
    • In the same vein as Tom Felton and Fiona Shaw, kids tend to run away from Alan Rickman when they see him dressed up as Snape on-set. And, like Felton and Miss Shaw, he's a very nice guy in real life. Also, he loves kids; according to an interview from the deluxe edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, he has several nieces, nephews, and god-children (and yes, he took the role for them. Aww.).
    • Anna Shaffer (Romilda Vane) and Jessie Cave (Lavender Brown) both played Abhorrent Admirers, but in real life both are friendly fashionable young ladies.
    • Scarlett Byrne has got to be one of the crowning examples of this trope. She plays Pansy Parkinson, a character that author J.K. Rowling patterned her after every girl who was ever cruel to her growing up. But Scarlett herself is known to be extremely friendly, mixing it up with convention goers at Leaky Con 2011, tends to be quite thorough in personally answering fan mail, and replies to her legions of fans on Twitter regularly.
    • While we're at it, we can include the other two Pansy actresses here as well, Genevieve Gaunt and Lauren Shotton, both of whom go out of their way to interact with fans on Twitter too.
  • Cillian Murphy, best known for playing creepy bastards, is a really sweet-natured, shy vegetarian chap. Although, he does play many other less evil characters... They're just less known.
  • Peter Lorre, who played some of the slimiest characters of all time, was the man who persuaded Humphrey Bogart to go ahead and marry Lauren Bacall. He was a fervent believer in true love.
    • Lorre was also a skilled comedian, but was rarely given the chance to show off his comic talents.
    • According to his biography, "The Lost One," he was also extremely vocal against the Nazis, to the point that his own family back in Europe suffered for it. Then there was another incident where Lorre was in a restaurant, and noticed a crowd of people standing behind a barrier, despite plenty of empty tables. When Lorre was told "They're only tourists. We want to seat more important people first, like yourself," he responded by taking down the barrier, seating the tourists himself, and telling the restaurant worker, "I know how it feels to be kept out" (this referring to his experience as a Jew in Nazi Germany, at the start of his career.)
  • Vincent Price was a great friend, apparently, and a really personable guy. And yet he's most famous for playing Mad Scientists in William Castle movies.
    • And a professional chef! He and his wife even wrote cookbooks.
    • And an expert in art. He even picked out personally some great masterpieces for the Sears Roebuck store chain to reproduce in the '70s to allow the owning of fine art by the masses. Watch the film Sears employees saw to learn more about the collection.
    • Vincent Price will scare the prejudice out of you.
  • Conrad Veidt, who played a Nazi in Casablanca, left his native Germany because the real Nazis were trying to kill him for being so outspokenly anti-Nazi.
  • Goldfinger was initially banned in Israel because Gert Frobe, the German actor who played the titular villain, had been a member of the Nazi Party during World War II. Later a Jewish family came forward to reveal that Frobe had used his position to hide Jews and help them escape the Nazis.
    • Similarly, director Guy Hamilton has described Harold Sakata (who played Oddjob) as a very charming man.
  • Jeffrey Combs has forged a career playing mad doctors, misfits, and villains of every stripe. In real life, he's a pleasant family man and a longtime Star Trek fan who seems to relish the opportunity to fool around at conventions.
  • Though never typecast (for obvious reasons), Lon Chaney played a good number of con men and killers over the course of his career. Offstage, he was a very private man who often went out of his way to give advice and assistance to beginning actors, as well as entertaining the crews of his films between takes.
    • When he learned that a director was being nasty to an actress except when Chaney was around, Chaney made sure to stay close by said actress.
  • Brad Dourif has played just about every flavor of psychopath known to man (most famously Grima Wormtongue), but ask any director he's worked with their opinion of him. Every single one will cite him as a consummate professional with zero ego.
  • When Meat Loaf played a racist cop in Crazy In Alabama, he felt a need to apologize to the cast and crew for some of the nasty things his character said.
    • Similarly, Don Ameche apologized to Eddie Murphy profusely for his character's use of racial slurs in Trading Places, as well as the entire cast when it came time for his Precision F-Strike.
  • Jackie Earle Haley has played Rorschach and Freddy Kreuger, but he's probably one of the nicest men you'll ever meet.
  • Boris Karloff, famous for his roles as horror villains like Imhotep, the Frankenstein Monster, Fu Manchu, The Voice Of The Grinch and a wide variety of mad scientists and serial killers, was in real life a kind man who donated to charity, fought to improve working conditions for his fellow actors, and dressed up as Santa Claus to deliver presents to a hospital for disabled children.
    • In 1931, Karloff was working for a theatrical touring company under his real name, William Pratt. When the city the troupe was working in was devastated by a tornado, Karloff/Pratt organized a series of charity benefits to help the victims. To this day, Boris Karloff is remembered fondly by the residents of Regina, Saskatchewan. (In contrast, the federal government made the city pay back all the federal aid money sent to them, with interest at a ruinously high rate. It took fifty years.)
  • Karloff's contemporary and friendly rival Bela Lugosi also qualifies. Onscreen, he played many villains, such as Dracula, Ygor, and others. However, he was very charitable, friendly, and took his most iconic role in stride, even being buried in a Dracula cape
    • There are, however, many reports of Lugosi being temperamental on sets.
  • Thomas F. Wilson, who played bully Biff Tannen and his various relatives in the Back to The Future movies, is really a wonderful guy, which pains him when people ask him to call their friends "buttheads". He actually drew on his own childhood experience of being bullied to help him properly play that role.
    • He even preforms a song called "The Question Song", making light of his frustration with this.
  • James Spader's characters don't tend to be particularly friendly, but James himself is.
  • David Cronenberg as a director, though usually not as an actor. His films are full of hideous mutations, Cold-Blooded Torture, images of depraved sexuality, and exploding heads. In person, he's a very nice, unassuming sort of guy. Martin Scorsese said he looked like a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. This usually comes across in his cameo appearances, although he played a Serial Killer in Clive Barker's Nightbreed.
    • Same with Wes Craven, who is a devout Christian and didn't see a film until he reached university. If you thought getting a motorbike was sticking it to the man...
    • Take Darren Lynn Bousman, known for doing sadistic and gory movies. He also has a friendly yet flighty personality that can best be compared to an excited puppy and is known for being extremely kind to his fans.
  • Michael Madsen, while playing the sadistic Mr. Blonde in Reservoir Dogs, was so disturbed by an ad lib that the cop he was torturing had a family that he couldn't finish filming the scene until the next day.
    • If you listen closely after the cop says he's got a little kid at home, you can hear Madsen saying "No, no, no" in a truly horrified tone of voice.
    • And it was said he was physically ill from guilt in between takes of the (comparatively) less brutal scenes in Kill Bill Volume 2 wherein he buried Uma Thurman's character alive. If that's not a nice guy, what is?
    • There are rumors of Madsen being an Angry Drunk in real life, though.
  • Neil Patrick Harris, the character from Harold and Kumar, is a crude, loud, jerk of a womanizer. Neil Patrick Harris, the person, is low-key, nice, and gay.
    • Spoofing Harris' nice guy image was probably the point of his character, sort of like Wayne Brady's appearance on Chappelle's Show.
    • How about Barney Stinson? Sure, he's a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, but he's a womanizer just like the fictionalized version of the actor who played him.
  • The Hong Kong actor Shek Kin earned the nickname Villain Kin for the numerous villain roles he played in classic Wuxia films. However he was a well respected and well known nice guy in real life.
  • Tobin Bell, who plays Jigsaw in the Saw films, is a very nice, polite, and soft-spoken fellow who coaches Little League.
    • Stargate SG-1 fans will recognize him as a jerk alien who thinks Earthlings are violent primitives.
  • Rudolf Klein-Rogge made his early career by playing wildly-flailing Ax Crazy silent film villains, most notably criminal mastermind Dr. Mabuse and the trope-codifying Mad Scientist Rotwang from Metropolis. Fans who met him were pleasantly surprised to find that in real life he was charming and soft-spoken.
  • An interesting occurrence in the gag reel for Shanghai Knights. Roy (not necessarily a mean character, but definitely insensitive) makes a cruel joke about an orphaned boy and his lack of parents. Owen Wilson breaks character about half-way through the line, exclaiming "That is so mean!" Starts at about 2:39, if you're interested.
  • The actors who played the criminals in The Accused were far more disturbed during the filming of a certain infamous scene than Jodie Foster was, prompting her to continually reassure them that she was okay.
    • Similarly, Tim Roth, who played the despicable Archibald Cunningham in Rob Roy, was especially gentlemanly toward Jessica Lange to make up for a scene in which his character did something horrible to hers.
  • Malcolm McDowell, well-known for portraying villainous characters (like Alex Delarge, Caligula) or Dr. Soran is actually a very sweet, charming, friendly, and personable fellow who really does seem to enjoy being with his fans.
  • Robert Helpmann, who played the terrifying Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, was actually extremely kind, especially towards the children.
  • Edward G. Robinson played a variety of characters throughout his career, but is definitely best remembered as a quintessential player of tough, violent gangsters in Film Noir and crime dramas. In real life he was a quiet, cultured man who collected art and was friendly to both co-stars and fans.
    • He and Vincent Price teamed up on the art collecting. They used to put on exhibitions of their collections to raise money for charity. There's also a famous photo of Eddie selling baby dolls for same!
  • On the set of The Princess Bride, Cary "Wesley" Elwes and Robin "Buttercup" Wright had an absolute blast with Chris Sarandon and Christopher Guest (who played Humperdinck and Count Rugen, respectively).
  • William Atherton--who played Walter Peck in Ghostbusters, and equally hateable characters in Real Genius and the first two Die Hard films--is nowhere near the bastard he appears on screen. He may come off as a little stuffy and pretentious, but that's probably due to his origins in the theatre. Most importantly, unlike other actors, he is happy to talk about the time filming the movies that made him infamous, and has shared many funny stories of on-set occurrences.
  • R. Lee Ermey, who played Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket was allegedly forbidden to interact with the rest of the cast prior to shooting to make his performance more threatening to them. He also comes across as very soft-spoken in interviews, and got along very well with director Stanley Kubrick.
  • According to the commentary track for The Chronicles of Riddick, Colm Feore, who played the downright sinister Lord Marshall, was an absolute blast both on and off the set. Two noteworthy examples are given: During filming, he didn't realize the camera was rolling during one take, and when a dead body is tossed in front of him, he looks directly at the camera and tosses off a Bond One-Liner. Another time, during a party, one of the cast or crew members makes some mention that he's never seen one Shakespeare play or another, whereupon Colm gets up and performs a 5 minute rendition of the play form beginning to end, playing multiple roles simultaneously.
    • Those of us who remember his turns as an arrogant, sadistic choreographer and a cold, ambitious true crime writer on Friday the 13th: The Series (or else as Andre Linoge in Storm of the Century) are probably especially discombobulated!
    • Also those who remember him as Rudolf Hoess in Nuremberg.
  • Doug Jones might be best remembered for many roles - including the Pale Man and The Lead Gentleman for the nasties - but ask anyone who's met him in person and they will be quick to tell you he's quite possibly the nicest guy around. And he loves to give hugs.
  • Michael Clarke Duncan is known for often playing imposing, scary characters, but is a very nice person in real life, and will reportedly give five dollars to anyone who recognizes him on the street and knows what his full name is.
  • Jeff Anderson, who played the sleazy Randal Graves in Clerks, didn't want to read a list of porno titles in front of a mother and her child, so his shots were filmed separately from theirs (although the mother and child did have the list read to them by someone else).
  • Javier Bardem, who won a well-deserved Oscar for his chilling performance as a cold, ruthless, indiscriminate killer, is generally known to be a cheery and outgoing person, and most of his other major roles have been in romantic comedies.
    • He actually said that while he loved working with the Coen Brothers, he did not enjoy playing Anton Chigurh because of how evil he was.
  • David James is best known stateside for playing the psychotic Complete Monster Col. Koobus in District 9. He's very involved in fundraising with the South African charity organization Faces of Hope.
  • The late Kevin McCarthy played the evil scenery chewing television station owner RJ Fletcher in UHF. On the DVD commentary, Weird Al describes how as soon as the director yelled 'cut', he would burst into uncontrollable laughter.
  • Michael Bailey Smith best known for playing Pluto in the remake of The Hills Have Eyes, he is usually type cast as demons or psychotic killers, he is said to be one of the nicest people you will ever meet.
  • Tony Todd, best known for playing the titular role in horror film Candyman as well as the voice of the granddaddy of all Decepticons, is six feet, five inches tall and has an intimidating voice. In real life, he is known as a very sweet, kind-hearted family man who describes himself as "a big kid".
  • Eamonn Walker, who plays the incredibly evil African dictator in Lord of War, comes off as a really pretty nice person off-set.
  • Tommy "Butch" Bond, the menacing bully in the Our Gang shorts, was said to be the nicest kid on the set when the cameras stopped rolling.
  • Joe Pesci, Lethal Weapon aside, has played some of the most terrifying psychopaths ever committed to film. In real life, he is an extremely humble, soft-spoken man who is very gracious to fans.
  • Due to his towering height, huge frame and noticeably deep voice, George Kennedy was often cast as tough, brutish characters in films such as Charade, The Dirty Dozen and his Oscar-Winning role in Cool Hand Luke. In reality, he had a reputation as one of the nicest actors in Hollywood. As he became older, he was more frequently cast in comedy roles such as The Naked Gun which were closer to his real personality.
  • Lee Marvin was well known for playing tough, military characters. In real life, the ex-Marine opposed the Vietnam War and was one of the first stars to support gay rights. He even disliked The Dirty Dozen as he felt it did not reflect his experience or anti-war views.
  • Robert Ryan was often cast as cruel and hateful villains due to his 6'4" frame and deep intensity. Like Marvin,He was an Ex-Marine who supported many worthy causes such as racial integration and was appalled at John Wayne's support of Blacklisting.
  • British character actor Michael Sheard played villains on film and TV - including Admiral Ozzell in The Empire Strikes Back, Adolf Hitler in four films including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Himmler in two more films and an assortment of officious bureaucrats. On television, his best-known role was the Sadist Teacher Mr Bronson in Grange Hill, not to mention a part as a villainous Dalek-flunky headmaster on Doctor Who (he'd already been on the show three times by this stage anyway). He died in 2005 and everyone who'd ever worked with him queued up to say what an awesome and genuine guy he was, how great he was with the Doctor Who fans, and how his nickname was "One Take Mike" for his utter professionalism.
  • Seann William Scott, according to his co-stars is the one of the nicest guys around, while his most famous character, Stifler, is mainly a big Jerkass.
    • To give you an idea of just how un-Stifler like Seann William Scott is, he didn't even have a girlfriend until he was 30 years old because he was so painfully shy around women.
  • John Cazale, the brilliant but criminally underrated actor known for his perfect but tragically short filmography (he made only five films before dying of leukemia, all of which either won or were nominated for Best Picture), played down-on-their-luck losers or borderline psychopaths in classics such as Dog Day Afternoon,The Conversation and The Godfather parts I and II. In reality, he was known as an extremely kind, sensitive and gentle man well liked by all he worked with. His accomplishments include getting best friend Al Pacino into acting and discovering Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep.
  • Charles Bronson is something of an odd example. While by all accounts a loving husband and father, the World War II veteran was known as a very quiet and introspective participant on set, rarely speaking unless necessary. In one incident, he scared off an armed mugger demanding his money merely by saying "No, you give me money." John Huston described him as "a grenade with the pin pulled".
  • Sir Anthony Hopkins played one of cinema's most terrifying villains in Silence of the Lambs. In reality, he is known as a very sweet, down-to-earth and good humoured man who likes to be called Tony.
    • He also used this "rep" to play pranks on his fellow actors in Silence of the Lambs... by quietly stepping behind them and whispering, "Good morning," a la Dr. Lecter.
  • Ted Levine as Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs - he and Brooke Smith (who played his victim Catherine) became good friends whilst on the set. So much so that Jodie Foster jokingly referred to her as Patty Hearst.
  • Jared Leto, known for getting killed or deformed in just about everything and playing assholes in Films such as American Psycho and Requiem for a Dream, is known as a very sweet person.
  • It has been said in interviews and commentary by her co-workers from Mean Girls that Rachel McAdams is a very nice person, despite her role as conniving and controlling Regina George. They felt it was ironically fitting that the sweetest girl played the meanest.
  • During a commentary on Hard Candy, Ellen Page laments that some people (including her friends) thought she was like the psychotic sadist she played.
  • Tor Johnson (of The Beast of Yucca Flats and Plan 9 from Outer Space fame) was a giant man who often played monstrous killers. However, he was reportedly a very nice man; one co-star described him as a "giant sugar bun".
  • The Karate Kid reboot has a series of stills from production showing during the credits. In several of them, the boys who played the hero and the psychotic bullying antagonist are grinning broadly and have their arms around each other or seem to be playing. The boy who plays said bully looks very different without his Death Glare.
  • David Tomlinson, who played Lord Fellamar in Tom Jones, as well as the villain from The Love Bug was popular with other entertainers. Reportedly, when Peter Sellers was on his deathbed, the only person he wanted to see before he died was David.
  • Robert Maillet played the imposing French bruiser in the 2009 adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. While on the set during their fight scene, Maillet accidentally punched Robert Downey Jr. in the face, knocking him over. According to Downey Jr., Maillet was virtually inconsolable afterward-- "ten times more upset about it than I was".
  • Alan Arkin who played Harry Roat in Wait Until Dark is a sweet humble man who hated his role as he loved Audrey Hepburn and didn't like playing a man who terrorized her.
  • Johnny Depp, who is famously gracious to his fans, does nice things for kids, and leaves big tips at restaurants, played psychotic murderers in Secret Window and (far more messily) Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, with frightening believability.
  • Michael Ironside, famous for playing psychopaths, hard-ass soldiers, scheming company men (if not some combination of all three), and in one case a tyrannical dictator, is in reality one of the most mellow, soft-spoken people around. He once told a story about how a police officer pulled him over while driving, simply because he looked like he was up to something.
  • Lawrence Tierney was a notorious subversion, being just as tough and mean as his roles made him look. Just about every production he was involved in, particularly in his later years, has a story or two about him scaring the hell out of everyone else.
  • Forest Whitaker has played a number of villainous roles, and won an Oscar for portraying Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. In real life, he's a family man, a vegetarian, and is involved in charity work that supports children affected by Uganda's civil war.
  • Tom Noonan has played psychotic serial killers, self-aggrandizing drug dealers and other unsavory types in his film career, is reportedly a very friendly and easygoing person in real life.
  • Bob Hoskins is probably best known in his native Britain for playing ruthless gangsters in films (most Americans probably remember him as the more upstanding, but still somewhat sleazy private eye from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) is in real life a devoted family man.
  • Stanley Tucci played the role of Mr. Harvey in The Lovely Bones, but he apparently had a lot of trouble doing so. In an interview, Peter Jackson describes Saoirse Ronan giving Tucci a hug after shooting that scene. You know the one. Hell, he even played Adolf Eichmann in Conspiracy (you know, the guy who co-proposed the "Final Solution").
  • Brian Thompson has played pretty much every type of villain you can name. The fact that he's got one of those craggy, pock-marked "natural villain" faces likely doesn't help. However, everyone who knows him or has worked with him says that, by nature and attitude, he's closer to the small handful of Knight in Shining Armor hero roles he's played than any of the hundreds of villains.
  • Mark Strong, reknowned for playing villains of all calibres, is by all accounts an incredibly nice gentleman going by interviews.
  • Kevin Bacon, who has made a career out of playing devious psychopaths and Complete Monster types, is soft spoken, friendly and a dedicated professional. He has said in interviews that he took the part of Sebastian Shaw in X-Men because he strongly believed in the ideas that the comics represented.
  • Lance Henriksen, whose characters are often deeply troubled Anti Heroes or outright villains, is a family man and known to his fans as one of the nicest men you could hope to meet.
  • Lee Van Cleef, best known for playing "the Bad" in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, said that he would never hurt a woman, kick a dog, or harm a child in a film.
  • Laurence Olivier, known for his Shakespearean characters and playing the cruel triumvir Crassus in Spartacus, apparently refused to carry on a conversation with anyone who wouldn't call him Larry and was such a nice guy that Marlon Brando couldn't bring himself to try and seduce his then wife Vivien Leigh.
  • Christian Bale, Terminator: Salvation rant aside, is known on sets to be very friendly and easy going with cast and crew which made his rage all the more frightening and unfathomable to those working with him. Even so he quickly made amends with the subject of his rant not long afterwards.
  • Jesse Eisenberg, while playing borderline sociopathic Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, became very close friends with Andrew Garfield and said he found shooting scenes of their conflict very difficult.
  • Nancy Allen who plays Chris Hargensen in Carrie is actually a nice, down-to-earth person. Watch these two clips and it's clear that she's one of the nicest people in the world.
  • The late Anthony Perkins, best known as the titular Psycho, was cited as being rather shy and humble, but friendly and fun once you got to know him.
  • Yorick van Wageningen, who plays Nils Bjurman in the American film of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, was apparently so upset about the filming of a rather disturbing scene that he spent the rest of the day after filming holed up in his hotel room.
  • Clint Eastwood has pretty much made his career playing cold-hearted amoral cynics with violent streaks. Even his "good" characters such as Harry Callahan are violent and rude. In real life, Clint is known to friends and colleagues as a cultured gentleman and family man with progressive views and who is known to his actors for his laidback easygoing personality and being great to work with.
  • Ralph Fiennes is known for playing Nazis, evil wizards, foul-mouthed mob bosses, and lords of the underworld such as Amon Goth, Lord Voldemort, Hades, Ramses II and Harry Waters who all bounce between Complete Monster at their absolute worst or Jerkass at their best. While in reality, Liam Neeson has said that Ralph was one of his biggest sources of support after his wife Natasha Richardson died.
  • Stephen Lang is best known for his role in Avatar where he played Colonel Quaritch. In real life, he's not only nice, but has said several times how important Avatar's message is and how he understands some of the stronger fan reactions.
  • Gary Oldman has played a whole slew of baddies over the years, from a sadistic Alcatraz warden to an a drug-addicted Dirty Cop to a Ax Crazy pimp and is a perfect normal, nice man in real life.
  • Michael Massee, who played Funboy in The Crow, became good friends with Brandon Lee and was so traumatized by firing the shot that killed him (which was completely accidental and not his fault) that he took a year off acting to recuperate.
  • Brian Cox, who played William Stryker in X Men and did a version of Hannibal Lecter every bit as scary as Anthony Hopkins, is said by fans to be a very likeable, downt to earth laidback guy in real life.
  • Hugh Jackman is best known for playing the gruff Wolverine in X Men but is known in real life as being one of the nicest, most well liked actors in Hollywood.
  • Ben Affleck made his career playing bastards and jerk jocks in many films but is, in real life, a happily married family man who comes across as much nicer and more intelligent than most of his screen counterparts.
  • Robert Downey, Jr. zigzags around this trope. While he has reformed from his criminal activities and drug abuse in the 90's, he still likes to act as smarmy, egotistical and sarcastic as his characters. Of course this is just a facade and he comes across as a much nicer fellow than one might think, often gushing enthusiastically about how much he loves his co-stars and is viewed by everyone as a pleasure to work with.
  • Michael Shannon has made his name playing repressed, psychotic, and otherwise crazy characters in movies like Bug and Revolutionary Road, but is known to be a perfectly nice and low-key guy who loves his daughter and has a great sense of humor.
  • Tom Hiddleston, who plays Loki in Thor and The Avengers, can nail cold, calculating and manipulative like nobody's business. In real life, he comes across as very sweet, enthusiastic and clearly delighted with his job and can barely contain his glee when gushing about his costars and genuinely appreciates his fans. Stan Lee has described him as "the sweetest, nicest guy you could ever meet".
  • Gene Hackman definitely qualifies as this. He has built his career on playing smarmy, manipulative, and unlikeable characters including Lex Luthor. In real life, he is known as an extremely nice, gentle and shy person with zero ego. He even nearly backed out of The French Connection because he didn't like playing a character surrounded by violence.
  • Sam Rockwell has it with playing manipulative businessmen like Eric Knox (Charlie's Angels) and Justin Hammer (Iron Man 2). In real life, he's a nice guy.
  • In both Escape 2000 and 1990: The Bronx Warriors, Trash is a violent Anti-Hero with an unnatural talent for killing mooks with relative ease and make things explode all over the place with just a handgun. The actor who portrayed him, Mark Gregory, who was a salesman at a shoe store in Rome before the movies' director spotted him, was extremely shy, introverted, and hated his newfound fame (which he never wanted to begin with). Which explains why he quit acting and vanished from public view in about 1989 and hasn't been seen or heard of ever since.
  • Isabelle Fuhrman is best known for her roles as the psychotic Esther in Orphan and the knife-happy sadist Clove in The Hunger Games. In real life, she's a sweet girl who did charity work with Save The Children to reduce the death rate of newborns in developing countries.
  • Robert Patrick is known for playing villains (most famously, the T-1000). People who have worked with him describe him as an incredibly funny man who likes to joke during rehearsals and between takes.
  • Lotte Lenya played the psycopathic lesbian Rosa Klebb in From Russia with Love as a cold-hearted pervert. Her co-star, Daniela Bianchi later said that she was one of the nicest and easiest people to work with.

Live Action Television

  • Although Andy Griffith is best known for his genial "nice, folksy guy" roles (Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show, Ben Matlock on Matlock), those who have only seen his acting in A Face in the Crowd (where he plays a manipulative power hungry television star), Murder in Coweta County (where he played a powerful, bloodthirsty, homicidal sociopathic land barron who kills a sharecropper) or the 1995 made-for-TV Gramps (another bloodthirsty sociopath out to destroy his family, using vicious methods of physical assault that he seems to invent on the spot) would be convinced that he never was Andy Taylor or Ben Matlock... or that genial, well-respected human being he genuinely is in real life.
  • Wil Wheaton's adult acting career has a tendency toward roles where he plays a snarky, antagonistic Jerkass (including As Himself on The Big Bang Theory), which he assures fans is not his real persona.
  • Don Rickles. A lot of people still think he's one mean old guy but get to know him and he's one of the sweetest and most gracious persons on earth (he's best friends with Bob Newhart for crying out loud.) That must be why he's one of the few insult comics to have a very long successful career in insult comedy.
  • Double the Fist is a show about four men who yell a lot, destroy a lot of public property, kill numerous people and even mess around with the laws of time and space in the name of Fistworthiness (Testosterone Poisoning) and is full of random violence, gore, and is convinced of it's own superiority amongst other TV shows. The actors/creators however are just four ordinary guys who understand what their doing is silly and are pretty damn decent.
  • John Cleese is no saint, but he's not as bad as people started assuming he was after Fawlty Towers. Cleese himself, a devoted student of psychology, supposes that there's something so essentially British in his portrayal of Basil Fawlty that it was easy to believe the actor was really like that as well.
    • In interviews, he comes off as not only extremely intelligent, but very polite and respectful. He tends to speak positively of those he talks about, and even when being critical, tends to phrase his complaints in as polite and non-abrasive a fashion as possible.
  • Actor, comedian, producer, and writer Denis Leary is a pretty nice guy in real life, he even started an organization for firefighters and their families.
  • Actor Larry Linville was a kind, friendly man who was very open-minded and courteous to those around him, in contrast to his character, Jerkass Major Burns in MASH.
    • Unfortunately for him, he'd already been typecast and his career was pretty much ruined.
  • A few Kamen Rider actors from different Noughties' seasons (also called the Heisei seasons) have earned the Fan Nickname "Rider Bros" for their love of the franchise and its fans. How does this trope apply? Because one of them is Takashi Hagino, who shot to fame as the Ax Crazy Takeshi Asakura or Ohja from Kamen Rider Ryuki, for whom 'mean character' is an understatement.
  • Carroll O'Connor used to get piles of hate mail while he played Archie Bunker; it actually bummed him out a bit that some people thought he was actually like his character, but I guess that's a testament to his acting skill.
    • Although some letters accused him of being like Archie, even more accused him of making Archie too sympathetic. But Archie was never meant to be evil. O'Connor played him as a typical (as he saw it) working-class conservative: poorly educated, barely literate, angry, bitter, convinced the world is against him, yet willing to vote against his own interests because he's convinced that the other party is immoral and treasonous. O'Connor wasn't really a liberal as much as an old-school working-class socialist, who had as little time for "limousine liberals" as he did for conservatives like Anita Bryant (see below). This may explain why O'Connor's increasing creative control of the show coincided with the departure of Mike Stivic.
    • He was actually involved in the boycott of Florida orange juice, in protest of the Florida Citrus Commission's support of Anita Bryant and her anti-gay Save Our Children coalition. That's right, the man who played Archie Bunker stood up for gay rights. The best part? He did this in The Seventies, an era when it was not only socially acceptable to bash gays (often literally), but it was expected, and anybody who supported any form of equality for gay people was suspected of being gay themselves.
    • The only thing that bothered O'Connor more than people sending him hate mail for playing a bigot, was people who sent him fan mail for playing a bigot. O'Connor finally did a PSA for B'Nai Brith denouncing all the Misaimed Fandom.
    • Much the same can be said of Warren Mitchell, who played the original UK version of Archie, Alf Garnet in Till Death Us Do Part.
  • Jane Kaczmarek plays Lois in Malcolm in the Middle, who does awful things to her kids because she thinks they need to grow up, and Judge Harm in The Simpsons, a judge who... means harm. Apparently, she's really nice in real life, if her husband's, Bradley Whitford's, loving tribute to her in his Emmy award acceptance speech is any indication.
    • On the other hand, she describes Lois as "a great mother", which is quite disturbing.
  • The characters of Supernatural have all been to hell and back (sometimes literally). Which has made them all pretty cracked, damaged, and in many cases, sociopaths. The actors of Supernatural, however, are known for being nice, sweet, goofy, and friendly with fans. (Jared Padalecki is a practical joker who is usually the first to crack up during scenes, Jensen Ackles is rumored to buy drinks for the crew at the end of a shoot, and Misha Collins is... well, Misha Collins.) (Although, considering Supernatural has a small sub-group of fans who range from bizarre to insane, it's a wonder they haven't been scared off yet.)
    • John Winchester definitely has more than his share of hatred from the fans, but in real life, Jeffery Dean Morgan, who is only 12 years older than the actor playing his oldest son, describes his relationship with the pair as "the three idiot brothers".
    • Richard Speight Jr. may play a character who has a mean streak and a twisted sense of humour, but he comes across as a very friendly person.
    • Pretty much every actor/actress who's played a mean character on his show.
    • Mark A. Sheppard, who plays Magnificent Bastard Crowley, is known to be extremely personable and nice to fans.
  • The bulk of John Glover's resume involves him playing jerks, Magnificent Bastards, and Satan. He is often described by directors and co-stars to be one of the sweetest men you'll ever meet. He finally got to play someone more like himself in Gremlins 2.
    • Believe it or not, Daniel Clamp was also written as an evil guy, an example of a Corrupt Corporate Executive. Glover, tired of being typecast, ignored the script and played him as a good guy.
    • It apparently got to the point that when Glover returned to Smallville after three years absence in Season 10, the new makeup people were scared of him. Apparently they expected him to be far more like his character, Lionel Luthor.
    • Glover also played Charles Rothenberg in David. Charles Rothenberg is a real-life Complete Monster who set his son (David) on fire rather than let his mother have custody of him, causing burns over 90 percent of his body. Glover has stated that he became traumatized playing the character, which really says something.
    • The same applies for his onscreen son Michael Rosenbaum who plays Lex Luthor. On screen he's cold, calculating, sadistic, selfish, narcissistic and incredibly petty. In real life he is relaxed, funny, very friendly, self-depreciating and sweet often gushing about his co-stars and clearly enjoying his work.
  • Michael Emerson, a.k.a. Ben Linus is an affable, intelligent and mild-mannered fellow who couldn't be nicer to Lost fans and generally provides good hints and insights that help answer the show's mysteries. His character, on the other hand...
    • His previous big role had been William Hinks in The Practice. His character in that show was a serial killer, who traumatized the lawyers on the show for a good season and half. It's worse than it sounds: he died after six episodes.
    • It also made for a Crowning Moment of Funny in a recent interview where he described how if people see him in public, conversation will sometimes drop off suddenly. He'll then do something non-threatening, like a small wave, which people will possibly read as even more threatening. Because he's Ben Linus.
      • One writer for Entertainment Weekly admitted to seeing him at a Subway and being too scared to get in line behind him.
        • Not counting his role as the sinister Zep Hindle in the first Saw...
  • While Boss Hogg was more on the Affably Evil side of things, he was the villain on The Dukes of Hazzard. Behind the scenes, Sorrell Booke was apparently one of the nicest people you could meet, multilingual and holder in a degree in fine art. Reportedly, when he passed away in 1994, the rest of the cast was inconsolable. The same was also true for James Best, who played Boss's sidekick, the bumbling (but otherwise harmless) Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane. In fact, during the 1980s, Best and Booke were available to appear at children's birthday parties, where they would appear in-character as Boss and Rosco (and do several of their comedy bits and pretend that they were going after the Duke boys), a testament that they genuinely loved children and remembered the audience that in large part made them successful.
  • The Fametracker site touched on this a few years ago when discussing The Larry Sanders Show. "Jeffrey Tambor must be a really smart, sweet man in real life to do such a fantastic job playing a big dumb asshole like Hank." While "sweet" is debatable, all indications are that Mr. Tambor is an intelligent, generous, and funny actor.
  • Pretty much everyone from the Australian "based on true events" crime drama Underbelly counts here, but of particular note is Gyton Grantley; the friendly, soft-spoken actor whose previous experience was an ad on using plastic bags, turned out a brilliantly wicked performance as real-life underworld boss Carl Williams, whose greatest claim to infamey was having a drug rival killed in front of his children.
  • Roger Delgado and Anthony Ainley, the two long-time Masters of the old Doctor Who series, were both legendary for their lovely personalities off (and sometimes even on) the set.
    • In Real Life, in fact, Jon Pertwee and Roger Delgado were good friends, and Delgado's untimely death in Turkey while filming a movie was one of the catalysts that led Pertwee to decide to finally leave Doctor Who.
      • Pertwee himself often played the Doctor as something of a Jerkass, but was well-liked on set. In fact, when he died in 1996, Elisabeth Sladen (who played Sarah-Jane Smith in his last season as the Doctor) was said to have cried inconsolably for weeks.
        • Katy Manning, then a young girl fresh to the world of acting who played Jo Grant, The Doctors companion when The Master was first introduced, has charmingly described the relationship on the set as her having two kindly god-fathers who put her under their wings and who guided her through the stressful waters of weekly television work, who showed her that it was okay to spend your life playing make-belief on a stage or in front of a camera... and who just happend to be ruthless enemies whenever the director yelled "Action!".
    • Colin Baker mentioned in a interview that the only thing he could get Anthony Ainley to talk about outside of rehearsals were cricket and the Master's character.
    • Adric was more The Scrappy than mean, but Matthew Waterhouse himself is described by fans as warm, charming, funny, and very approachable.
    • John Simm played one of the most twisted and psychotic versions of The Master to date on camera. Off camera, his own performance disturbed him so much that he forbade his children to watch it because he didn't want to frighten them with his onscreen Complete Monster actions. Ironically, he became The Master to impress his children, but clearly his role as a loving father takes precedence over his acting career.
  • Joss Whedon was aware of this phenomenon in Firefly; he apparently took great pleasure in writing Jayne as a big, dumb brute who was also the Butt Monkey because Adam Baldwin was such a smart, nice guy. Some would say that his extreme right-wing views have muddied the "nice" water, though.
  • Similar to his example in Film, Neil Patrick Harris in How I Met Your Mother plays a drunken, manipulative, close-to-amoral womanizer. In real life, he... isn't. At all.
    • Although he does do magic.
  • Christina Hendricks, who plays the villainous Yo Saff Bridge (along with Joan on Mad Men, who is not exactly a villain but can be quite a bitch), has been described as the sweetest person in television.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, whom we know and love as the eponymous acerbic, mean, high-functioning sociopathic protagonist of Sherlock and whose best-known roles nearly always involve him being socially awkward, creepy or downright scary, is self-deprecating, sweet, and extremely charming in real life.
  • Jane Lynch, who plays homophobic, sardonic, Sadist Teacher Sue Sylvester on Glee (and led to her playing a similarly vicious character as Sam's Mom in ICarly), is warm, funny, openly gay, good with teenagers, and usually has nothing but nice things to say about anybody. She also serves as something of a Team Mom for the Glee cast, referring to them with such phrases as "my babies."
    • Max Adler, who plays Jerk Jock and Armored Closet Gay Karofsky, is actually a great person, which can be noticed in every interview he gives. He also made a video for the It Gets Better campaign.
    • Grant Gustin, who plays "smirky meerkat face" Sebastian, is an incredibly nice person and well-liked by the sane majority of the Klaine fanbase, even as they rail against his character for threatening their OTP.
  • Heroes: According to one of Jack Coleman's blogs on Television Without Pity, Robert Forster is "a total sweetheart" who brought gifts for everyone on his first day on set. Despite playing the utterly ruthless Volume 3 Big Bad.
  • Robert Knepper is known for playing evil and shady characters, but off-screen he's a dedicated father and is generally known by fans as a really sweet guy. He also visited a children's hospital to pass out gifts to the patients and spend time with them, and this was while Prison Break was still on the air.
  • Jim Parsons plays the arrogant, obsessive, and infuriatingly socially inept Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. In real life, as evidenced by his interviews, he is sweet, friendly, considerate, and very well-adjusted socially. And more charming than one would think humanly possible.
  • Phil Hartman spent most of his career playing arrogant, sometimes Obliviously Evil jerks. However, watch any interview with him and it's clear he's one of the nicest, sweetest guys on the planet, which makes his untimely death even more depressing.
  • Stephen Fry, a large cuddly toy, has played a violent rageaholic Duke of Wellington in Blackadder the Third (as well as General Melchett, who's not mean per se but certainly isn't someone you'd want to live with); a similarly abusive role in an episode of The New Statesman; many similar roles in A Bit of Fry and Laurie; and more understatedly, a greedy amoral bastard in Absolute Power. For such a nice guy, he's definitely one of the world's preeminent bellowers.
  • His comedy partner, Hugh Laurie, a.k.a. arrogant Jerkass Dr. Gregory House, has usually been described with phrases such as "panda-like."
  • Out of character, Stephen Colbert is a total sweetheart, as many coworkers, Report guests, and fans can attest. When The Colbert Report was first pitched, Colbert's main worry was that he wouldn't be able to cope with "playing an asshole".
  • David Hewlett. You probably know him as arrogant scientist Rodney McKay from Stargate Atlantis, who, among other things, can't stand kids. In real life, he has a (as of October 6th, 2009) 2-year-old son whom he adores - to the point where he merrily Twitters about his latest antics at least once a day.
  • Ken Jenkins, who plays devil-turned-slightly-goofy Bob Kelso in Scrubs, is regularly noted by the cast for being just a sweet, crunchy guy everybody likes.
    • In fact the initial portrayal of Dr. Kelso in the first episode (where he seems like a nice guy until halfway through) was described as how he is in real life. This made his sudden transition into the demonic heartless Kelso frightening even to the cast while filming it.
  • John Lithgow is an absolutely adorable and funny guy, who also writes poetry and stories for children. In the fourth season of Dexter he plays the craziest and creepiest murderer we've seen so far in this show.
    • That's actually a throwback to earlier in his career. Before 3rd Rock from the Sun, he was routinely typecast as ruthless terrorists, alien mad scientists, psychopathic serial killers, brutal hitmen, poor professors doomed to die of starvation in Nuclear-winterized Kansas and small-town preachers.
    • In fact, he started out in theatre, where he always played antagonistic old men, in spite of the fact that he was not only a Nice Guy, but was also quite a young guy at the time.
  • Andrew Scott, who plays Jim Moriarty in Sherlock is actually extremely sweet in real life.
  • Alexander Skarsgård is internationally known for playing various types of intimidating tough guys: 1000-year-old badass Viking vampire on True Blood, cool-headed Marine Sergeant on Generation Kill, a psycho Nazi in the film The Last Drop... But in real life he appears to be anything but intimidating: sweet, funny, affable and gentleman-like.
  • Likewise, Ian Somerhalder, who plays the "bad" Salvatore brother Damon on The Vampire Diaries (most of the first season he's pretty much a gleeful, sociopathic killer who's obsessed with getting back his psychotic vampire ex) is in real life a lovely, caring person who saves puppies and sheds tears about the Louisiana oil catastrophe, doing everything in his power to help.
    • Vampire Diaries featured Kayla Ewell as Vicki Donovan, a lusty, foul-tempered vampire chick. Exactly why Ewell took on the role, because she said Vicki was the total opposite of her.
  • DeForest Kelley, who played the oft-grumpy, sarcastic, outspoken Sour Supporter and Grumpy Bear Dr. McCoy on Star Trek: The Original Series and had made a career out of playing Western villains, was in real life shy, warm, gentle, welcoming, compassionate and generally sweet right down to his bones, not to mention devoted to his wife, to whom he was married for fifty three years until his death.
    • He also appeared to be the fellow that everyone in the cast had a good word for, even when they became bitterly divided over money, screentime, and egos.
    • The same has been said of his on screen counterpart Leonard Nimoy as Spock (Not a villain but certainly an example of Good Is Not Nice). While Spock is cold-hearted, logical, and has absolutely no problem being tactless with people, Leonard Nimoy is known as very sweet, warm, friendly and a gentleman. Despite the onscreen hatred, the two seemed to have a lot of respect for each other and liked each other personally, with Kelley giving a lot of praise to Nimoy's performance.
  • Kevin Smith (no, not that one, this one) who played Ares on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys was really a friendly, fun loving person with a charming Kiwi accent.
  • Jamie Hector, best known as the sociopathic drug dealer Marlo Stanfield in The Wire, was shocked at the show's fourth season with its brutally accurate portrayal of the problems affecting inner city schools, resulting in the cycle of violence in such areas being perpetuated. He and co-star Felicia Pearson now run a charity devoted to helping such schools.
    • Sandi McCree played one of the worst mothers ever shown on television on The Wire, De'Londa Brice, who treated her son like shit and would rather see him do well in drug dealing than in school. Those who know the actress know that she is a strong figure for art eductation and litearcy for the youth, and the role was completely against type for her.
  • James Ransone, the thoroughly unlikable Ziggy Sobotka from The Wire and Social Darwinist Mad Bomber Dennis Wayne Barfield from Burn Notice, once made a citizen's arrest of a rapist in his apartment building.
  • Lewis Black is well known for his stage persona of a very profane man who is reaching the limits of his sanity due to the absurdities around him. In real life he's very subdued and polite, and said in one interview "If I was that person all the time, I would die."
  • Japanese comedy example: Egashira 2:50 is known as a very rude and mean comedian; most people that see him onscreen always know him as "the worst comedian ever". However, it's also a public secret that the moment the camera stops rolling, he reverts to become a generally pleasant person.
    • The second example is a little debatable, but Hamada Masatoshi from Downtown is a nice family man offscreen, while onscreen, he's the lovable Super Sadist Hamada.
  • Ray Wise, best known for playing assorted bastards like Leland Palmer and the Devil (similar to John Glover, above), is actually extremely personable in person.
    • Possibly referenced by his later role on 24 as not-actually-evil Vice President Hal Gardner. He starts out very suspicious and shady, but as it turns out, the Veep is innocent and a good patriot. President Logan--that's right, the wishy-washy President--is the actual force behind everything.
    • It should be noted that, while a bastard, his role as The Devil required him to pose as a pretty nice and charming fellow, at least until he was "disappointed" in you. Then he'd still smile, but drop a bunch of shelves on you.
  • Richard Armitage, who played the murderous Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood comes across as an incredibly soft-spoken and thoughtful man. When his character had to murder Maid Marian he claims that he had several nightmares about it in the days leading up to shooting the scene.
  • Zejiko Ivanek, known for playing almost every evil Bastard in every show, The Governor on Oz particularly,is known to be a very nice man who is very friendly with Fans
  • In interviews, The 4400's Megalyn Echikunwoke has complained of fans at conventions being terrified of her because she plays the Axe Crazy Clingy Jealous Girl Isabelle Tyler. While Isabelle got some character development and a Heroic Sacrifice after redeeming herself , Echikunwoke always seems to be a generally happy-go-lucky, likable young lady.
  • This happened to Gregory Itzin, who played the much-despised President Logan in a few seasons of 24 but is evidently a much more reasonable guy in real life.
  • Charlie Brooker is famous for being a serious contender to Simon Cowell's place as the Meanest Brit and most Caustic Critic in the UK thanks to the biting sarcasm he displays in his columns for The Guardian and his TV shows Screenwipe and Newswipe. However, his most recent TV show You Have Been Watching, while still displaying his trademark caustic wit, shows a much friendlier, nicer side of him thanks to the presence of a panel of guests. It's pretty clear that his cynical, misanthropic persona is mostly an act consisting of an exaggerated version of himself.
    • In his most recent column, Brooker announced he was quitting writing for his Screen Burn column in The Guardian after ten years, mainly on account of growing tired of insulting people on the television, since - in a weird meta version of the trope - he found them in person to be decent company. It looks like he's putting away his Caustic Critic persona...for a while, at least, if the column's anything to go by.
  • Arguably, the king of this trope is none other than the one-man cacophony, BRIAN BLESSED!! In TV and film he often plays obnoxious, violent, rude and constantly bellowing characters such as the drunken King in Blackadder and Vultan, King of the Hawkmen in Flash Gordon; even his 'in character' moments will scare away animals and small children. In private however, he is an extremely gentle soul, always friendly and welcoming and with a disarming wit despite his intimidating size.
  • This often happens in Reality TV shows, in which people often try to come off as more aggressive or assertive to win the game, but they're not actually like that in real life. Russell in Big Brother 11 (US) probably counts; given that, despite being somewhat of a "Loose Cannon" and purposely bullying Ronnie (He actually waited outside of Ronnie's room...then when Ronnie left, continuously followed him around the house taunting him and calling him names), he admitted that this was an act. One could include people like "Evel" Dick, but he actually does act like he did in the house in real life, just not to the extent that he did. (ie, walking around and banging pots, purposely farting to squick out Jameka, yelling at Zach.)
  • Bebe Neuwirth, famous for playing Ice Queen Lilith Sternin, is in reality a warm, funny, wonderful woman and incredibly talented dancer who adores the stage and having a live audience.
  • Liza Weil played Paris Geller on Gilmore Girls as an extreme Type A personality who flew into a rage at receiving an A-, sat shiva for being rejected for Harvard, and characters tried to avoid being in her firing line of long and pointed rants. Some of her guest star roles also have her in a gruff and annoyed type of role. Off film though Weil is quiet and usually comes in early to study direction and pacing of scenes she isn't in and respects everyone, especially the older cast members (the only time she spoke ill of the show was due to The CW not wanting to do a proper finale), and generally she's actually a quiet and soft-spoken woman who has a habit of playing with her sleeves, does yoga and when sighted in public with her child, doesn't play herself up at all.
  • Jennette McCurdy, the actress who plays Sam on iCarly, is nothing like the abrasive, tomboyish girl she plays, and is quite girly and a genuinely sweet person.
    • Her True Jackson character, Pinky, was girly, but she wasn't very sweet.
  • John Thaw was best known for/overshadowed by being the loud, crude, abrasive, bully-like Detective Regan in The Sweeney but in real life was known for being an absolute pussycat who was well loved by all.
  • Gina Riley is best known for playing Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist Kim Craig nee Day. In real life (if non-Kath and Kim interviews are to be believed), she's quite friendly and sweet, and is a big fan of musical theater.
  • Mia Kirshner, best known for playing the selfish, pretentious and extremely Narcissistic Jenny Schecter on The L Word, runs a charity devoted to helping people in Third World countries.
  • Lance Reddick plays imposing humourless bosses on The Wire and Fringe but watch any Interview and You can see how much He loves His work
  • D'Argo from Farscape isn't exactly mean, but is a stern, intimidating warrior with only the very occasional moment of levity. Actor Anthony Simcoe is an extremely wacky and fun guy, and in fact had considered leaving the show early on because he felt it wasn't worth putting on the heavy prosthetics every day to play such an initially one-note and serious character. Eventually the show did allow him to show his comic chops, like in "Out of Their Minds" when Chiana's mind is put into D'Argo's body, or "Won't Get Fooled Again" which features a Camp Gay D'Argo hitting on Crichton.
  • B.D. Wong once described his Oz cast mates as "a bunch of really nice guys who happen to sodomize each other violently on television."
  • Angela Martin on The Office is an uptight humourless Judgememtal Ice Queen. Angela Kinsey,however,is a lovely,friendly comedy actress described as the polar opposite of her character. Just check her out on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson!
  • Walton Goggins who plays the crude, violent Racist Shane Vendrell on The Shield is said by fans to be one of the nicest actors in Hollywood.
  • Meaghan Jette Martin is nothing like the character she played in Camp Rock.
  • Selena Gomez plays the manipulative, irresponsible, lazy and borderline cruel Alex Russo, while Selena herself is about as diametrically opposed to those traits as it gets. Significant since she's a Disney star, and thus is bound to be identified mainly by that character.
  • Miranda Cosgrove. Virtually the only thing that makes Megan's scenes on Drake and Josh watchable is knowing that her actress is very nice and pleasant in real life.
    • Drake Bell, while not explicitly mean or a villain, is far nicer and well grounded than his character on the show.
  • Olivia Tennet, who plays the socially awkward genius Dr. K from Power Rangers RPM. Her character often comes across as aloof, cold, blunt, and sometimes downright mean, especially towards Ziggy Grover, whom she sometimes considers a total idiot. Compared to the character, Tennet is rather an extremely sweet person and somewhat of a Genki Girl.
  • Chuck Norris is a great example, especially as far as Western actors are concerned, though it's not due to his characters being evil. His characters are mostly defined with Memetic Badass with incredible superhuman feats, which would make him look mean (if heroic) while the guy himself is a Nice Guy (albeit Badass Grandpa) combo.
    • Norris was in a bar one evening, when a obnoxious patron came in and told Norris he was sitting in his chair and to move to which Norris quietly complied. Later the guy recognised Norris and asked him why he'd moved from the chair instead of kicking his ass to which Norris replied "What would that have accomplished?" - Norris truly believes in fighting only as a last resort. The chastened guy became Norris's friend.
    • This was lampshaded in an episode of Yes, Dear. Jimmy meets Chuck (playing himself) and is enthused to meet his hero in person. When they start hanging out, he turns out to be a doting father (or...granddad? Crap, how old is that show?) who gives his kids pony rides and takes them to cutesy playgroups, and feels disillusioned at the lack of asskicking. Just after Jimmy comes clean about what he was really expecting, they get mugged and Norris does, indeed, beat the muggers into submission; despite Jimmy's renewed enthusiasm, Chuck isn't really interested in hanging out anymore.
  • Brenda Song, who plays the bubble headed London Tipton on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, is actually one of the smartest girls one has ever known (no wonder she got to host Disney Channel's healthy eating series Pass the Plate).
  • Robert Wisdom, who played the thoroughly scary Uriel on Supernatural, is said to be a one of the nicest actors around by those he has worked with. They also know him as Bobby.
    • His character in Burn Notice, Vaughn, starts as a nice guy (as far as evil spy handlers can be nice). But when it comes to Season 4 finale, he DOES get scary.
  • Kiefer Sutherland, best known as Jack Bauer (not a villain, but a Hot-Blooded anti-hero) on 24 is a very sweet and humble man who opposes the death penalty and doesn't believe in "acceptable losses".
  • Julie Benz is known for being extremely nice and sweet despite having played a 400 year-old murderous Buffyverse vampire and played villainous roles in some of her movies.
  • Vincent Kartheiser who plays the homicidal Connor on Angel and the shallow,icy and elitist Pete Campbell on Mad Men is not only a very sweet and friendly actor, but so dislikes the materialism of Hollywood that he lives in a tiny apartment and doesn't own a car.
  • Michael Chiklis who played the violent, self-righteous bully Vic Mackey on The Shield is said to be a very nice man who loves the Fantastic Four comics and never turns down a child who asks for an autograph.
  • Michael C. Hall is best known for playing the titular sociopath on Dexter is reportedly a very nice and friendly man.
  • Rainn Wilson who plays the hopelessly delusional and humourless Dwight Schrute on The Office has been described as extremely nice.
  • Michael K. Williams,who plays the vicious and immoral thief Omar Little in The Wire,is a very Nice man who originally wanted to be a dancer.
  • Chris Barrie, contrary to his character of Arnold Rimmer on Red Dwarf, is actually a pretty nice guy who gets along with the rest of the cast enough to participate in the commentaries.
  • The late Frank Silva, best known for playing the scary Complete Monster Killer BOB in Twin Peaks, is said to have been a very nice man with a great sense of humor.
  • The Plunderbird Boys can be seen as this on a more minor scale; their entire gimmick was that there were hard boys who wanted to see violence and carnage. In series 2, they were unanimously voted to win the good sportsmanship award, which speaks volumes about their in-the-pits behaviour. However, even their 'mean characters' were shown to have at least some degree of respect and concern for their fellow competitors, so the difference isn't as large as with most entries, although the character's reaction to the aforementioned award does show the trope in action.
    • Most of the teams who were in Extreme Series 1 got a bit of this, having been told to ham up their fighting talk for the cameras. Team Diotoir got the worst of it though, being made to kidnap the host's son and vandalize another team's robot. Those incidents were of course staged and couldn't be further from the truth - the team were renowned for their sportsmanship an camaraderie in the pits, receiving the Sportsmanship award three times and even lending their old robot to a team whose entry had broken down.
  • Summer Glau has played robots, psycho stalkers and government killing machines, and but she's one of the nicest actors in Hollywood.
  • Eric Balfour, often cast as Jerkass' in shows like Six Feet Under,has been described as a very nice man
  • Ashlie Brillaut, otherwise known as Kate from Lizzie McGuire, is an advocate for bullying prevention organizations, and is a down-to-earth, sweet person who gets along well with the reuniting cast members on the season one DVD. Not that this stopped younger fans from yelling at her for being mean to "Lizzie" any less...
  • Jason Alexander, best known for playing Jerkass Woobie George Costanza in Seinfeld and Jerkass Woobie Eric Duckman on the USA cartoon of the same name, is a very nice and sweet man who started out in Musical Theatre.
  • Chilean actress Gloria Munchmayer, who played one of the better known villainesses in Chilean telenovelas ever (Adriana, the Evil Matriarch from Los titeres), comes off as a rather kind Cool Old Lady in interviews.
  • Jason Dohring plays bully, Eddie McDowd.
  • Larry David, although admitting George Costanza on Seinfeld is based on him, has said that his fictional counterpart on Curb Your Enthusiasm is nothing like him, claiming that he is "Always the first to apologize in situations".
  • Frank Kelly, despite being known for playing Violent Alcoholic Jack Hackett in Father Ted, is a very polite and intelligent Theatre actor who originally wanted to be a lawyer. Graham Linehan has said he regrets not showing more of this side to him
  • Comic Lisa Lampanelli, known as the "Lovable Queen of Mean" who makes money onstage insulting people, in real life is much more tame (check out this interview as an example.)
    • A perfect example happened in May 2011. While performing a show in Topeka, she was the target of a protest by the Westboro Baptist Church. She decided to create an elaborate Take That against them by announcing that for every protester that showed up, she was going to donate $1,000 to the Gay Men's Health Crisis Center in New York. It was unclear how many showed up (some reports say 44, others say 48), she just said "screw it" and upped the donation to an even $50,000. In Westboro's honor.
  • Larry Hagman who is known for playing the "Man America loved to hate" on Dallas was very well liked by the cast and crew of the series.
  • Canadian actress Kristin Fairlie usually ends up playing troubled and/or downright psychopathic young women in the shows she guest-stars in, playing a psychotic fan who kidnaps the main character in Instant Star and a vicious thug who opens fire in a crowded mall in an episode of Flashpoint, but in real life she's an animal-loving sweetie. At least she gets to play characters as sweet as she is in her numerous voiceover roles.
  • Adam Baldwin is known for playing rough, taciturn characters but is incredibly charming and gracious to his fans in real life, and has quite the goofy streak.
  • Jason Hervey, best known as Big Brother Bully Wayne Arnold on The Wonder Years, laments that he is too often associated with said character, who he is nothing like in real life.
  • Martin Clunes plays the eponymous doctor in Doc Martin. While the character is mostly grumpy and angry, Clunes himself is a light-hearted fellow.
  • Peter Serafinowicz, best known in the U.S. for providing the voice of Darth Maul, is often cast as villains due to his massive 6'5" frame and deep raspy voice, but Simon Pegg described him as "The sweetest man in the world". This is probably less of a surprise if you're British, as he is a comedian.
  • Lauren Lane, who played C.C. Babcock on The Nanny is actually an incredibly warm and funny woman.
  • In an unusual Reality Show example, The Commando from the Australian version of The Biggest Loser. Also unusual for the trope, both his Drill Sergeant Nasty and more sympathetic sides get camera time.
  • Jamie Hector, the actor who plays Marlo Stanfield on The Wire - Marlo is a drug dealer who has people killed for all kinds of reasons. The actor who plays him founded a charity called, Moving Mountains, Inc. whic works with inner-city youths developing their innate talents and expanding their creative opportunities.
  • Scottie MacGregor, who played Harriet Oleson on Little House On the Prairie was actually the favorite of all the children on the set.
  • Alison Arngrim is famous for playing Laura Ingalls's archenemy, the spoiled, nasty, and utterly unpleasant Nellie Oleson, on Little House On the Prairie. In real life, she's a rather nice dentist lady and good friends with Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura. Argrim is also an activist for AIDS and child abuse awareness.
    • Don't forget that, in interviews, she often lamented how kids were scared of her on sight when she was playing Nellie.
  • Mark Harmon from NCIS is anything but the scowling, badass, gut feelings are always right, former marine sniper that Leeroy Jethro Gibbs is. In a behind the scenes interview featured on the NCIS season 1 DVD box set Mark Harmon says "I don't ever make the mistake of thinking that I'm Gibbs; Don Bellasario is."
  • Glee is rife with this: Jane Lynch (glee club archnemesis Sue Sylvester) and Jessalyn Gilsig (Will's evil ex-wife Terri Delmonico) have shown themselves to be perfectly nice people. Mark Salling (Puck) has shown himself to be even shy in interviews. This also applies to Naya Rivera (straight-out bitch Santana). Dianna Agron (bitchy head cheerleader Quinn Fabray) actually lives with her in-show nemesis Lea Michele (Rachel). The latter testifies to Jonathan Groff (Rachel douchey ex-boyfriend on the show Jesse St. James) being an absolute sweetheart and one of her closest friends. Max Adler (primary bully Dave Karofsky) advocates for gay rights in real life. And of course Josh Groban and Olivia Newton-John had a blast pretending they were both huge jerks.
    • From all reports, the whole set is a crazy love-fest. This bunch really likes each other.
  • This trope sometimes happens with Reality TV, given the amounts of Manipulative Editing that happens and establishes a "Character" that people know due to their personalities being cherry-picked to the camera.
  • Robert Axelrod, who even other voice actors have been known to refer to as Lord Zedd, is, in reality, the sweetest little old man you'll ever meet (despite only being, as of this writing, 62).
    • Related to that, Rita Repulsa, who was like a much more sinister Wicked Witch, was voiced by Barbara Goodson, who is one of the sweetest grandmother-types you'll ever meet.
  • Jack Gleeson, who plays Complete Monster Royal Brat Joffrey on Game of Thrones has been described by his costar Sophie Turner (Sansa) as one of the nicest people she's ever met, which made the scene where Joffrey forces Sansa to look at her father's severed head and orders one of his knights to hit her when she refuses difficult for her to film.
    • He also doesn't like to swear, which is also a problem. He therefore avoids swearing during rehersals, saving it for the actual take.
    • The cast in general are touchingly protective of Gleeson, as Joffrey is such a massive a-hole, they want to ensure that that doesn't color people's impressions of Gleeson one iota.
    • Even George R.R. Martin said that Gleeson is incredibly nice and congratulated him on "being hated by everyone."
  • Rory McCann, who plays Sandor "The Hound" Clegane in Game of Thrones is a nice, fun-loving guy who likes playing innocent practical jokes on his co-stars.
  • Brazilian sitcom Sai de Baixo had a character named Caco Antibes, known for his aversion to poor people and anything poverty-related. Miguel Falabella, the actor who portrayed him, does not share his character's negative attitude.
  • Ian Somerhalder, whose character Damon Salvatore is an unrepentant sociopathic killer, supports multiple charities, founded one to help the Environment, and is generally known among fans as being a really nice guy.
  • Japanese comedian Toshiaki Kasuga frequently plays the boke in a Boke and Tsukkomi Routine as a rude, arrogant twit. When out of character, he's the exact opposite; his coworkers usually describe him as very polite and modest, and have gone on record as saying that they have never heard him so much as speak negatively about any other person.
  • Leighton Meester plays Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl who has been aptly described as a "ninety-five pound package of doe-eyed, label whoring evil". In real life, Leighton is known to fans as a complete sweetheart who treats everyone well and gets along great with co-stars. She's also a pretty good singer.
  • While his characters are usually good and noble, Patrick Stewart can often come across as the humourless military type on screen (Picard may be a good captain but its unlikely you'd want to spend time around him outside of that). Sir Patrick on the other hand is known to interviewers, fans and co-stars for his hilarious self-depreciating wit, extremely friendly and gracious personality and overall being a sweet man who clearly loves what he does.
  • Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of It is a foul-mouthed, hateful, verbally abusive bastard who sits on the fine line (and even grinds his heel into) between Anti-Hero and Villain Protagonist. Peter Capaldi - the actor who plays him - is by all accounts sweet, soft-spoken and very pleasant.
    • The same thing goes for fellow TToI actor Paul Higgins, who plays Malcolm's even more psychotic underling. Paul has joked that 'That kind of psychotic rage does come easily to me,' but in interviews he's soft-spoken and quite philosophical. Basically, Malcolm/Peter and Jamie/Paul are at the extreme ends of the Mean Character, Nice Actor spectrum.
  • Aaron Paul (Who is also kind of an example of this; His character is never really outright evil) described Max Arciniega, who plays Crazy-8 in the first three episodes of Breaking Bad, as one of the nicest, sweetest guys around. The cast and crew liked him so much They rewrote some episodes to keep him around a bit longer (He was only cast in the pilot and stuck around until episode three).
  • Glenn Howerton is the opposite of his character on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Humble, polite, very sweet, very intelligent, and clearly happy to be Acting and working with his co-stars. Interviewers have described him as "One of the nicest, most pleasant actors to interview".
  • Despite being most famous for his role as Badass mob boss and patriarch of the titular Big Screwed-Up Family on The Sopranos, in real life James Gandolfini is, by his own admission, more of a "260-pound Woody Allen".
  • Lana Parrilla, who plays the icily wicked Regina Mills and the Evil Queen on Once Upon a Time, is very sweet in real life. She frequently retweets fanart of her character on Twitter, and has a devoted fanclub of followers who call themselves the "Evil Regals".
  • John C McGinley, who plays the relentlessly abusive Jerk with a Heart of Gold Dr Cox on Scrubs, has been described as intimidating at first but is very nice and a pleasure to work with. Heck, just listen to some of his commentaries where he heaps praise on his co-stars, including Zach Braff.
  • Mark Pellegrino has pretty much built his career on playing assholes that include abusive husbands, Jacob and Lucifer. In real life, he is a devout christian and family man who comes across as very sweet, relaxed, funny and very appreciative of fans.
  • One of the biggest bastards in British soap opera is Emmerdale 's Cain Dingle, a villain who would sell his own grandmother into prostitution if he thought there was any money in it, a man who has robbed, conned, raped and seduced his way around Yorkshire just because he can. In real life, the actor playing him seems to be one of the nicest and most pleasant guys out and is very easy to like and get on with (at least, going by his interviews). He also used to present a Christian radio programme on his local radio station.
  • Rival soap Coronation Street has the psychotic and manipulative David Platt, a youth with serious mental health issues throughout his adolescence and young manhood. His repulsiveness is part-explained by his being the spawn of Gail Tilsely and one who has seen his mother the victim of murder attempts by assorted husbands (Gail is atrocious at pattern-recognition). Even so, he is played as a contender for Young Psychopath Of The Year by an actor who is not only sane and decent, but perfectly pleasant and likeable. Is this a trend in soap?
  • Zeljko Ivanek has made his career playing characters that are either Complete Monster such as Emile Danko or Governor Devlin in Oz or wholly unpleasant bastards in shows like True Blood and 24. In real life, he is known as a very gracious, sweet and friendly man who is very appreciative of fans.

Music

  • Off the stage, Marilyn Manson is a sweet, sensitive, polite and kind-hearted Nice Guy who despite all of his own mistakes in his personal life, does deeply care about his fans. When interviewed by Michael Moore about how his music is allegedly responsible for the titular massacre of Bowling for Columbine, he answers with genuine sadness that people ought to reach out and understand social outcasts like the two boys rather than label them monsters.
  • Photojournalist Don Bartletti shadowed The Offspring, a band well-known for snarky lyrics, for a day of concert coverage. He claimed that they were very amiable in posing for photos, and donated a million dollars to a local charity while on tour.
    • Dexter Holland, the band's lead singer, was also a doctorate candidate in molecular biology before leaving school for the band.
  • Trent Reznor is an extremely nice man, in spite of the music he's made, which bounces back and forth between True Art Is Angsty and Nightmare Fuel, somehow never leaving Crowning Music of Awesome in the process.
  • Alice Cooper's on stage persona is the very definition of Shock Rock, but, off stage, he's a devout Christian and a substitute bible studies teacher.
    • Played with in Wayne's World, when Wayne and Garth meet Cooper who they see as a god, they're so mesmerized by him they don't realise he's nothing like his onstage persona.
      • Even when he and the band are discussing Native American history.

 Wayne: So, do you come to Milwaukee often?

Alice: Well, I'm a regular visitor here, but Milwaukee has certainly had its share of visitors. The French missionaries and explorers were coming here as early as the late 1600s to trade with the Native Americans.

Pete: In fact, isn't Milwaukee an Indian term?

Alice: Yes Pete, it is. Actually, it's pronounced "mill-e-wah-que", which is Algonquin for "the good land".

Wayne: I did not know that.

Alice: I think the most interesting thing about Milwaukee is it's the only American city to have had three Socialist mayors.

Wayne: Does this guy know how to party or what?

    • He's also an avid golfer.
  • While it's just common sense that most Death Metal and Black Metal musicians aren't actually serial killers, many are in fact very friendly, cheerful, well-adjusted guys who just happen to like singing about the sort of stuff you might see in a horror or war film. George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher of Cannibal Corpse for instance spends his free time playing video games, fishing, and taking his wife & daughters to Disney World.
  • Ted Skjellum, aka Nocturno Culto of Darkthrone, is an elementary school teacher.
  • Slipknot, the face of angry Grr-life-sucks-I-hate-my-parents rock turn out to be nice Iowa boys who miss their wives when on tour.
  • The Finnish hard rock band (and 2006 Eurovision winners) Lordi don a lot of costuming in order to transform themselves into hideous, scary-looking monsters, and their music is very loud and growly. (They were largely influenced by other Finnish hard rock bands and KISS.) The people behind those masks/disguises are known for being very quiet, polite, and private.
  • Bruce Dickinson. By day, Iron Maiden vocalist and more metal than a block of steel. By night, part time airline pilot and occasional fencer.
    • How about Steve Harris? Massively muscled, tattooed all over, usally clad in standard metal uniform, a bit of a bookworm in his spare time (look at all the Maiden songs inspired by English Literature).
  • Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Her stage persona is... not subtle; between the over-the-top outfits and miming sex acts with the microphone, it's no wonder people are surprised when she turns out to be very shy and low-key in person.
  • Henry Rollins is covered in tattoos, built like a truck, earned a reputation for being overly aggressive and violent (even by hardcore standards)and was/is often derided as "a macho asshole". He is also very well spoken and an overall nice, well adjusted, if intense, guy. This also carries over to his acting roles, which tend to be anywhere between douchebag and homicidal maniac. (Except in the movie Feast.)
  • Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance looked like a corpse and covered himself in fake blood on stage back in the day. Combine that with insane stage antics, screaming, and lyrics about murder, vampires, and other crazy things, he came off as slightly intimidating. Off-stage, he wore adorable skeleton footie pajamas from Japan or loud Hawaiian shirts and just wanted to play some D&D, drink coffee, and talk about Star Wars.
  • Eminem is an example of someone who certainly didn't start out this way, but he has matured into this. With all the crap that he went through, most people find it hard to blame him for having been a jerk at times in the past. He's also far more comfortable with fame now than at the start of his career and has started taking his role as a star more seriously. These days, his songs make him out to be a mean, nasty person, and his song "Kim", which is about him killing his wife, falls straight into Nightmare Fuel territory, but in real life, he's a caring father of three girls and is nice to people and his fans.
  • Metallica frontman James Hetfield is known for his scary, growling persona on-stage. In-person, he's very nice.
  • Emilie Autumn's stage persona is that of a violent, insane girl locked in a Victorian madhouse. In Real Life, Emilie actually is mentally ill, but she is also a quiet, sweet Cloudcuckoolander, bookworm and apparently a huge Star Wars geek.
  • The Birthday Massacre's music swings around from violent massacres to abusive relationships and everywhere in between, but in contrast, the entire band are incredibly lovely and lead singer Chibi is one of the nicest people in existence to the point that the fanbase practically worships her.
  • King Diamond is known by James Hetfield as "One of the nicest guys in the Music Business".
  • Mark Hunter of Chimaira. In the studio and on stage? One of the angriest, most inhuman vocalists in metal history. Off the stage? One of the most soft-spoken and nice guys you will ever meet.
  • Adam 'Nergal' Darski of Behemoth. He is one of death metal's most ferocious-sounding vocalists, and his band plays some of the harshest music out there right now. Not to mention he hides behind large amounts of armor and makeup on stage. Beneath his scary image offstage, however, he is about as intimidating as a cat.


Opera

  • Baritone Tito Gobbi's most iconic role was Complete Monster Scarpia. Read his autobiography and you'll find out he was a nice fellow with a great sense of humour.
  • Eric Halfvarson is the creepiest psychopath on stage, be it the Grand Inquisitor, Hagen, Claggart or simply the Commendatore. But he's really adorable when he throws kisses to the audience at curtain call (almost always).
  • Matti Salminen can be a really, really dangerous Hagen, but man, is he a huggable teddybear in real life.
  • Sir John Tomlinson. See Matti above.
  • Samuel Ramey made a name for himself playing devils and villains. Ask any person who has worked with him, and they will say he's "a dear" and the nicest person they've ever met.


Professional Wrestling

  • Typical of wrestling, but WWE superstar Mark Callaway, a.k.a. The Undertaker, is perhaps the Ur Example. When he's not acting satanic and burying his opponents alive he is a rather private person, noted as being quite gracious to fans who ask for pictures or autographs. Apparently his sole proviso is that he doesn't want to be approached if he's with his wife and kids, though he was quite civil when taped with girlfriend and future wife Michelle McCool.
    • He was probably more civil with McCool since she was used to it, being familiar with the limelight herself, as opposed to his first wife, who wasn't in the public eye. For that matter, Michelle is also a good example of this. During a large amount of her run, she was a member of Lay Cool, who were basically some of the best examples of the Alpha Bitch anywhere. In real life, she's a total sweetheart, a devout Christian and a former schoolteacher. While we're on it, let's add Layla (Michelle's partner in crime) to this as well.
  • Glen Jacobs a.k.a Kane is noted as being one of the friendliest men in professional wrestling today and is considered by internet fans to be the holy grail for fans to interact with. This is a far cry from his psychopathic character. In real life, he holds a teaching degree and said he would be doing that if he wasn't a wrestler.
  • Mick Foley, best known as one of the pioneers of extreme wrestling and breaking almost every bone in his body (and part of his gimmick is a Split Personality that includes the brutal psychopath Cactus Jack), is considered one of the friendliest and most intelligent guys in the business.
  • Scott Levy, better known as the sadistic career-heel Raven, is known for being similarly enthusiastic and friendly with his (smaller) fanbase.
  • The Rock was the epitome of the cool, aloof, arrogant anti-hero, and had a quick wit and sharp tongue he'd use against damn near anybody who crossed his path. Dwayne Johnson, the man behind The Rock, who has since moved on to Hollywood, has been referred to by damn near everybody who has ever worked with him, whether in wrestling or movies, as "the nicest man in show business."
  • The Big Show is a monstrous heel more often than not, but in reality he's a very nice guy.
  • Notorious heel manager Gary Hart was known as kind-hearted and sociable outside the ring. He was regarded as a beloved surrogate uncle by the von Erich brothers, whom he helped train.
  • Despite being one of the most controversial figures on camera and behind the scenes, Triple H is actually friendly with the fans. Plus, there's the fact that he has a plane take him home after every show so he can see his kids (he's specifically said he doesn't want the traveling to turn him into a Disappeared Dad) which is both this trope and a CMOA.
  • Bill Goldberg. Bret Hart, on his documentary DVD, "The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be", lamented how "someone as kind-hearted as [Bill] Goldberg" was responsible for ending his [wrestling] career.
  • On the women's side, Lisa Marie Varon, a/k/a Victoria, a/k/a Tara, seems to be at her best when she's playing the psycho-bitch role. However, in real life, she's funny, goofy, sweet, and one of the most well-connected to her fans, who she refers to affectionately as "Taters." (She always ends blog posts with "Later Taters.")
    • She actually tried to be a face in 2004, which included always locating a child in the crowd to kiss on the cheek prior to entering the ring.
  • Randy Orton is an interesting example. He's gotten nicer in real life as his character is getting worse. When he started, he seemed to act like an entitled brat, including an incident called "Crap Gate," when he reportedly defecated in a Diva Search contestant's gym bag because she didn't recognize him (she later said that it was baby oil and lotion instead, but still.) As of now, a few years later, he plays a Complete Monster as the Viper, but Tweets he's upset because his daughter's asleep when he gets home, and he can't hug her.
  • The nature of the wrestling business leads to the fact that almost every person in the business has played a villain at some point. "Nice" is a relative term, which makes it something of a sliding scale, but it could be said that most wrestlers fall into this. Given the things that heel wresters do in Kayfabe, it would take a major scumbag not to be nicer than the character they portray.
    • A lot of it goes back to the old territory days (and the earlier barnstorming performances). Since the heel (villain) controls the offense of the match, the other workers have to trust them so they don't get injured or potatoed (cheap-shotted).
  • While known for playing a sneaky and calculating heel for a large portion of his career, the late Owen Hart was actually a generous family man, and one of the funniest wrestlers in the business.
  • Alberto Del Rio is known for being the smuggest snake in the WWE, but in real life seems like a very humble guy who idolizes his father and uncle and seems very honored that he gets to wrestle against top wrestlers in the WWE.
  • Back when he was the Doctor of Thuganomics, John Cena was this trope. By all means and accounts, the "Superman" that he portrays now seems to be how he is real life.
    • Ironically, it's the very reason that his character (which tends to be loathed amongst Smarks) tends to be this way instead of turning darker and edgier or outright heel.
  • "Rowdy" Roddy Piper also fit this trope, especially when he was at the height of his villianry during the WWF's "Rock-n-Wrestling" era.
  • Andre the Giant often played a monster heel. While filming The Princess Bride, whenever one of the actresses was cold, he'd put his hand on her head--said hand was big enough to cover her head.
  • Luna Vachon was downright scary in the ring, acting far more vicious than any woman, having a very unorthodox look for a woman, and speaking in a very harsh growl that could give anyone goosebumps. Outside the ring she was incredibly sweet, very approachable, and was one of the most popular Divas at public appearances and conventions.
  • Similarly, Kia Stevens, known as Awesome Kong in TNA and Kharma in WWE, because of her strong almost Brawn Hilda type build, has played the Scary Black Woman for much of her career. However in real life, she seems to be an absolute sweetheart and comes across as girlier than the Barbie dolls she's been ripping in half in her introductory vignettes.
  • William Regal is a classic heel in the ring, but due to his experiences as a fan, is extremely gracious to fans, taking an all-or-nothing approach to meet and greets (either everyone gets an autograph or no one does). This extends to the locker room as well; he gladly gives advice to aspiring wrestlers and has even taken a few under his wing, most notably Bryan Danielson and Triple H.
  • One look at Natalya Neidheart's twitter account or story from a fan about how they met her and you will wonder.
  • One important thing to remember is that by the time they've reached any kind of national audience, it's been Enforced at some point. Especially in the WWE, but to a lesser extent with other companies as well, the wrestlers spend an obscene amount of time together (different accounts by different WWE Superstars have said they are on the road anywhere from 300 to 350 days a year, spending most of that time sharing cars, hotel rooms, etc.) Very likely, anybody who doesn't fit this trope will quickly be filtered out. (One such example is Teddy Hart, whose controversial actions and massive ego have gotten him black-balled by almost every major company he's worked for.)
  • Chris Jericho. Too easy. In Kayfabe, he's a self-important Jerkass of a Heel (his feud with CM Punk will prove this) but in real life, he's the lead singer for the band Fozzy, and is actually a very nice and respectable person.
  • Big John Studd (1948-1995) was a heel during his time in the WWE during the 80s, but he was often describe "too nice for this business" by Bobby Heenan.

Radio

  • Jack Benny's comic persona was famously cheap, petty, and pompous, while the real Benny was a great guy--as evidenced by the fact that he let the other actors get the better of his character all the time. He was famous for saying "I don't care who gets laughs on my show, just so long as the show gets laughs."
    • Although he and his wife had their spats, apparently he arranged his will so that after he died, she would get a rose delivered to her every day for the rest of her life.
    • It's been said that the greatest testament to his character is that even after he died, nobody in Hollywood who knew him had a nasty thing to say about him, according to Dick Cavett.
    • He was also protective of his black co-star Eddie Anderson (Rochester), who despite playing a stereotypical valet role, was often shown to be Benny's equal, if not superior. Anderson himself broke down crying during a television special after Benny's death.
      • Rochester actually started as stereotypical in terms of gambling and womanizing but that was deemphasized as the show went on. By the time they got to TV, Rochester even had days off! Unheard of for a butler or valet in the media at the time.
        • Two stories suffice about Benny's true treatment of Anderson: During the days of segregation, the cast had stopped at a hotel in Missouri, which was under the so-called "Jim Crow" laws. The hotel manager, following the law, told Benny that if Anderson couldn't stay at the hotel. Benny, rightfully indignant, told the manager that if Anderson couldn't stay there, Benny would refuse to do the same. To avoid losing the cachet of having the most popular comedian of his day as a guest, the manager was able to bend the rules. The other tale comes from a gag where Benny and Rochester were sparring. At one point Rochester decks Benny with a punch. In response a listener from the Deep South wrote a letter protesting that a black man would dare to hit a white man. Benny responded by asking, "And how would it be funny if I hit him?"


Video Games


Web Comics

  • In the commentary for Rooster Teeth Comics, the writer, Griffon Ramsey, says she makes the representations of the other Rooster Teeth staff member's wives much more harsh than they really are and that Jordan Burns, the wife of Burnie Burns is "one of the nicest and most disarming people I've ever met."
  • Randy Milholland, creator of Something Positive, is a much nicer guy than S*P's Sadist Show of Deadpan Snarker Jerkasses or his own irritable appearances in Rhymes With Witch would lead you to believe. He's noted on the site that fans sometimes seem disappointed when he doesn't act like a jerk. It's something of a Berserk Button for him, however - pointing this out to him is likely to get him acting just like you'd expect.


Web Original

  • The person who plays Mr.Plinket is definitely a lot nicer than the reviewer persona.
  • According to people who've actually met him, Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw is actually not as abrasive as his internet personality seems to indicate, in fact he apparently comes off as rather shy. Part of this can be seen in his trip to Washington DC. Most of his supposed Small Name, Big Ego reputation related to Zero Punctuation seems to mostly be a poor relationship with his fans (as well as an actual history of egotism during his Adventure Game days), something he's attempting to rectify.
  • Sims Big Brother has often had this, usually inspired by people who actually do this in reality TV shows.
  • Virtually every handler on Survival of the Fittest is actually quite nice and friendly, and always willing to help new handlers learn the rules and write about murdering teenagers in a variety of gruesome ways better. Of course, certain members, usually the banned ones, are mercilessly mocked in the chat; often for good reason.
  • Chairman Nuke often acts more friendly and approachable than the individual she was created as a parody of.
  • Almost all the columnists at Cracked.com, especially Dan O'Brien's writing persona and Michael Swaim's character in Agents of Cracked. In the forums of the site, where they are presumably posting as themselves, the two are probably Cracked's sweetest columnists.
    • Also seen in Soren Bowie's T-Bone character, who turns out to be a spy for their rival site Broked.com, but is a great (if much too handsome) guy.
  • A frequent occurrence in online roleplaying (see Journal Roleplay, Character Blog, Play By Post Game). There are many instances of people not realizing this and thinking that the other roleplayer is a jerk, while in reality they're simply roleplaying as a jerk character.
  • Niclas Lundberg of Regular Ordinary Swedish Meal Time is really a quite genial, laid-back guy who cracks up a lot, and is genuinely sorry about messing up his friends' kitchens.
  • Many Internet Trolls would probably qualify when they can't hide behind their usernames.


Western Animation

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.