A new meme is sweeping the internet and exposing which actors have the most range.
The “could do but couldn’t do” meme began circulating on Twitter on Aug. 31, apparently aiming to reveal the lack of credit female actors get in Hollywood. Within days, the meme had expanded from one or two snarky posts to hundreds. Now people all over the web are using the meme’s simple format to expose the range many actresses have, and to poke fun at their male colleagues in the process.
“Could do but couldn’t do” meme
Most of the memes outline real film roles, played by men, that people believe women could have played just as well. In the second half of the meme, they turn it around and note roles that the women have played that the men couldn’t pull off. “Anne Hathaway could do Fight Club but Brad Pitt couldn’t do Princess Diaries,” one user wrote.
rosamund pike could do The Accountant (2016) but ben affleck couldn't do Pride and Prejudice (2005)
— ellen (@rosebyrnes) August 31, 2019
anne hathaway could do fight club but brad pitt couldn't do princess diaries
— Ayesha (@ayeshajn_) August 31, 2019
laura dern could do the shining but jack nicholson couldn’t do big little lies
— bike mloomberg (@lilstevietweets) August 31, 2019
nicole kidman could do national treasure but nicolas cage couldn’t do moulin rouge
— j*** (@sk8rgal96) August 31, 2019
julia roberts could do the godfather but al pacino couldn’t do erin brockovich
— cinnamontographer (@thejess_show) August 31, 2019
Julie Andrews could do terminator but Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn’t do Mary Poppins
— Ag(ony) (@Titbrains) August 31, 2019
A surprising number of the memes took aim at Leonardo DiCaprio. Perhaps due to the 44-year-old’s notorious acting chops, he was a common inclusion in the internet’s newest meme. “Taylor Swfit (sic) could do The Wolf of Wall Street but Leonardo DiCaprio couldn’t do the Reputation stadium tour,” Twitter user @dykemilk wrote.
meryl streep could do the wolf of wall street but leonardo dicaprio couldn’t do mamma mia
— Jacob Sherer (@JSherer13) August 31, 2019
anne hathaway could do inception but leonardo dicaprio couldn’t do the princess diaries
— valerie (@gyllanhaal) August 31, 2019
laura dern could do the revnant but leonardo dicaprio couldn’t do renata klein
— defund CPD (@gr8workbegins) August 31, 2019
Eventually, as memes are wont to do, it evolved. The meme started encompassing musicians as well as actors, taking aim at everyone from Beethoven to the Beatles. “Britney Spears could do ‘Hey Jude’ but the Beatles couldn’t do ‘Baby One More Time,'” one user wrote.
hozier could do romeo & juliet easy but shakespeare couldn’t do work song
— marta (@darkcaress) August 31, 2019
sophie ellis bextor could do sonata no.32; op.111 in c minor, but beethoven couldn't do heartbreak (make me a dancer)
— joe (@aijiujoe) September 1, 2019
Britney Spears could do Hey Jude but the Beatles couldn’t do Baby One More Time
— 8 inch bagel (@badgalbengali) September 1, 2019
From there, the meme spiraled into goofy comparisons and jabs at actors, artists and everyone in between. Posts like “Robert Pattinson could do the Bible but Jesus couldn’t do ‘Twilight,'” gradually overtook the original meme.
kermit could do titanic but leonardo dicaprio couldn't do muppets take manhattan
— NTHNL (@nathanielro) August 31, 2019
lana del rey could do illustrations of everyday life but norman rockwell couldn’t do norman f*****g rockwell
— jessica (@ysldoll) September 1, 2019
Lena Headey could do 99% of roles but 99% of actors couldn’t do Cersei Lannister
— Adjani/Huppert 2020 (@cyrilwoodcock) September 2, 2019
robert pattinson could do the bible but jesus couldn’t do twilight
— el (@sansamarch) September 2, 2019
donna tartt could do It but stephen king couldn’t do the goldfinch
— rhiannon (@gilbertblvthe) August 31, 2019
harry osborn could do green goblin but norman osborn couldn’t do harry’s funky little mustache pic.twitter.com/2YL7typYYQ
— let’s meme the spidey fivesome (@spideyfive) September 1, 2019
Peppa Pig could do Lincoln but Daniel Day Lewis couldn’t do Peppa Pig pic.twitter.com/tBoQcjeXGV
— creedthoughts.gov.www/creedthoughts (@Bernaize96) September 1, 2019