If you’ve been on Twitter recently, you’ve probably seen some of these memes popping up on your feed.
The “no, they always understood the assignment” meme is a celebration of an actor's range. The caption is accompanied by four pictures of four contrasting roles credited to the movie star. The ability to meld into a character and deliver a believable performance is perhaps one of the most important jobs for an actor, especially the popular stars who take on an incredible number of roles.
Know Your Meme credits the first “they always understood the assignment” meme to Twitter user @thering26 in mid-March. The post showed Uma Thurman in “Kill Bill,” “Pulp Fiction,” “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” and “Batman & Robin.” With nearly 26,000 retweets and 146,000 likes, the trend caught on from there.
Uma Thurman will always understand the assignment pic.twitter.com/yUIoUMfXHC— siu (@thering26) March 13, 2021
The recent surge of the “assignment meme” can likely be credited to none other than the king of range, Heath Ledger. April 4 would have marked Ledger’s 42 birthday.
He starred as the charming Patrick Verona in the 1990s rom com “10 Things I Hate About You.” He was a patriot in “The Patriot” and a knight in “A Knight’s Tale.” He took on a cowboy hat in “Brokeback Mountain.” He nearly became the Joker in “The Dark Knight.” His acting was incredible in each role.
heath ledger always understands the assignment pic.twitter.com/h02Vp8dcjy— anna (@MlDSOMMVR) March 30, 2021
Following the tributes to Ledger, several other “assignment” spreads have popped up on social media.
Anne Hathaway has garnered quite a few. Posts have pictured roles throughout her career, in movies like “The Princess Diaries” and “Interstellar.” She was also the White Queen in Tim Burton’s version of “Alice in Wonderland.”
Anne Hathaway will always understand the assignment pic.twitter.com/8gZOUm6Jpk— siu (@paperssil) February 5, 2021
Pictures from those performances are usually paired side by side with her freakish smile as the Grand High Witch in the 2020 version of Roald Dahl’s “The Witches.”
Fans also cite her performance in the 2012 movie version of “Les Misérables.” The actress was committed, cutting her hair extremely short to deliver a moving performance as the distraught mother Fantine. Beyond the acting, who knew Hathaway could sing so well live? Well, if you watched “Ella Enchanted” as a child, you might’ve not been quite so surprised by that revelation.
Another actor who has been spotlighted by the “assignment” meme is none other than Hathaway’s “The Devil Wears Prada” costar, Stanley Tucci. In the 2006 movie, Tucci gave a very convincing performance as Nigel, Runway magazine’s top fashion authority.
no HE always understood the assignment pic.twitter.com/qXZ1wZqHYv— day (@balladofsongs) April 3, 2021
Within the next decade, Tucci took on roles like the Super Soldier Serum inventor Doctor Abraham Erskine in “Captain America: The First Avenger” and the flamboyant Caesar Flickerman in “The Hunger Games.” In a complete 180, he's also embraced roles throughout his career as stone-cold killers in thriller and mystery movies like “The Lovely Bones” and “The Pelican Brief.”
Robin Williams, James McAvoy, Kathy Bates, Margot Robbie, Brittany Murphy, Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder have all been subjects of the “assignment meme.” The meme was even extended to the musical realm, with a quartet of Taylor Swift album covers grouped under an “assignment” caption.
taylor swift will always understand the assignment pic.twitter.com/GwcDCXkGsD— Luuh🦩💛💛 (@swiftcamzz) April 6, 2021
One actor that I haven’t seen an “assignment” spread for yet, but I think deserves one, is Tom Hanks.
He made us laugh, with his performances in comedies like “Big.” He made us cry over a lost volleyball in his nearly one-man show “Castaway.” His dramatic acting abilities shone in “The Green Mile” and “Apollo 13.” His voice was a part of many of our childhoods, as Woody in “Toy Story” and too many characters to count in "The Polar Express.”
His costumes and makeup were never an extravagant change. You could always recognize his face, but you never recognized him, so to say. He was believable in every role.
Are there any celebrities missing that you think deserve to be honored with the “assignment meme” award?