I can’t name every example, but almost all of John Cusack’s filmography has some scene involving him withstanding a torrential downpour for some reason. First two examples to come into my head are his payphone scenes in Say Anything and High Fidelity. Also, there is a distinct reliability on motels or hotels – 1408, Identity, The Bag Man and High Fidelity. In Jeff Goldblum’s two biggest hits – Jurassic Park and Independence Day – he says “Must go faster” when being chased. Marion Cotillard has been in four movies where Edith Piaf’s music plays an important role.
The most famous example being Inception. Coincidentally, the main actress in that movie lost to Marion circa 2008 when it came to the awarding process. In 50/50 and Knocked Up, Seth Rogen is a horny slacker. He gets thrown out of car by the protagonist who hates him until it is revealed that he’s been reading some books in order to help. Tom Hanks really enjoys being stranded. He was stranded in space (Apollo 13), on an island (Cast Away) and at an airport (The Terminal). Ryan Reynolds has been in four movies involving his character swapping bodies: The Change-Up, Self/less, Criminal and R.I.P.D.
Rachel McAdams has been in 3 time travel movies where her character ironically doesn’t partake in time-travelling: Midnight in Paris, About Time and The Time Traveler’s Wife. Bruce Willis has also been in 3 films that feature time travel, albeit ones where he has met/seen himself. The Willing Willis trilogy are 12 Monkeys, The Kid and Looper. Joe Pesci had beaten Frank Vincent to a pulp twice in Raging Bull and Goodfellas, then Frank Vincent returned the favor in a big way in Casino.
Sean Penn, John C. Reilly and Don Harvey played fellow soldiers in Casualties of War before being promoted in rank for The Thin Red Line, but Penn was still the highest rank. Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones have been in three movies together but never share a scene with one another. These were No Country for Old Men, In the Valley of Elah and Men in Black 3. Samuel L. Jackson kills a bounty hunter named Jango in Attack of the Clones and is killed by a bounty hunter named Django in Django Unchained.
Sam Neill’s dying statement in The Hunt for Red October was that he had always wanted to see the state of Montana. His character in Jurassic Park was from Montana, and he turned up in Montana at the end of The Horse Whisperer. In Broadcast News, a woman told Holly Hunter to shut up. 5 later, Hunter played a woman who refused to speak in The Piano. In Ghost, Whoopi Goldberg is insulted that she has to give the $4,000,000 check to a charity for nuns. Her next starring (as opposed to supporting) role was in Sister Act.
Julia Roberts like playing characters who wear wigs e.g. Sleeping with the Enemy, The Pelican Brief, Notting Hill, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Mother’s Day. Leonardo DiCaprio’s two movies in 2010 (Shutter Island and Inception) featured him having elaborate dream sequences where he was plagued by his dead wife. The same applies to The Revenant. Christopher Nolan clearly hates his wife because most of his lead characters have dead wives – Memento, The Prestige, Inception and Interstellar. Even Rachel Gyllenhaal bites the dust in The Dark Knight like five minutes after she accepts Harvey’s proposal.
If Dylan McDermott shows up in a movie or TV series, there’s a very good chance he’ll die by a gunshot wound to the forehead. Shane Black sets all of his scripts at Christmas time, even if that has nothing to do with the plot. This one is honestly insane to me. The fact that he even did it with Iron Man 3 points to either nostalgia or trauma. Jim Carrey tends to be in movies where he’s a flawed guy before obtaining some supernatural power (good or bad) that makes him into a better person. The chief examples being The Mask, Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty and Yes Man.
Josh Brolin was in four 2007 movies which you could say have gone to the dogs. In No Country for Old Men and American Gangster, his character shoots a dog. In Planet Terror, a dog is run over and killed. In the Valley of Elah continues the dead dog theme in an almost self-parody manner. Something is always going down with Harrison Ford’s family – Air Force One, Firewall, Random Hearts and Patriot Games. Bonus points if he’s playing a doctor as he did in Frantic and The Fugitive. The latter reminds me of another sort of similarity that three of Ford’s films share.
In Presumed Innocent, he is falsely accused of murdering his mistress. In The Fugitive (4 years later), he is falsely accused of murdering his wife. In What Lies Beneath, he actually does murder his mistress, and tries to murder his wife. More of an irony than a similarity, but DiCaprio’s character in Critters 3 hates being called sport – which he often refers to other guys as in The Great Gatsby. There is a twist in S.W.A.T. that Josh Charles is a dirty cop, which is revealed when he shoots another cop. He pulled the same schtick, 2 years on, in Four Brothers.
In Interstellar and The Martian, Matt Damon is stranded on another planet with Jessica Chastain trying to help rescue him. Robin Williams was in a movie called Seize the Day and then, 3 years later, he’s in Dead Poets Society preaching carpe diem to people. Just as he did in real life, he inspired a bunch of people in his films through some off-beat humour in Dead Poets Society, The Fisher King, Jack, Good Will Hunting (for which he won an Oscar), Patch Adams, Bicentennial Man and probably some others I’m either forgetting or didn’t watch.