16 Unexpected Dramatic Performances By Comedy Actors

“I don’t get offered things where it’s all about relationships and family and love. It’s like, ‘This is about family.’ ‘OK, and are there talking animals in it?'”

It feels like some actors fall squarely into one of two buckets: those who are good at comedy and those whose acting skills are better suited for drama.

But sometimes, an actor who’s normally known for making us laugh is able to effortlessly transition into a heartbreaking, incredibly intense role that shocks audiences just about everywhere.

Here are 16 hilarious actors who moved on to more dramatic roles, from Will Ferrell to Jennifer Aniston:


While Steve Carell will always be Michael Scott in my head, he has proven himself as a dramatic actor in foxcatcher, where he portrayed John du Pont, the heir to a huge fortune and wrestling enthusiast who recruited two American Olympians to serve as wrestling coaches, only to kill one years later. “I don’t really see comedy and drama as separate genres,” Carell said. little white lies. “At the end of the day, I prepare for them the same way – it’s about trying to make it as truthful as possible. A character in a comedy doesn’t know he’s in a comedy, and he does. The same goes for drama. You don’t play drama like you’re in drama – it’s just life, it’s just what happens.”


Melissa McCarthy might have earned an Oscar nomination for her hilarious role in Bridesmaidsbut she also proved her dramatic talents in Can you ever forgive me?, when she played a struggling writer who forged letters from famous authors in order to pay the bills. McCarthy said she didn’t find a huge difference between comedic and dramatic roles. “I’m a character actor. I connect to the character, and when you do that, all you can do is serve the character,” she said. Deadline. “It dictates everything; what they look like, how they laugh, who they like. You start to completely only think in those terms from the character. You’re so engrossed in the character. And you do it for a comedy or a drama. It doesn’t change.”


Whereas Uncut Gems wasn’t Adam Sandler’s first foray into drama, the 2019 film was definitely responsible for launching him into the serious actor stratosphere. Sandler said his wife Jackie convinced him to take on such a dramatic role. “I loved the movie, but I was scared to do it,” he said during a appearance on Ellen. “Then I asked Jackie to read it. We do it together, me and Jackie, we discuss what I’m going to do and she gives me the strength and the courage to get into this stuff. So she read it and thought, ‘You have to do this.’ I jumped into it and I had to do so many scenes where bad things happen and I have to be naked and everything – it’s terrible for everyone – but it was an amazing time.”


Jennifer Aniston has admitted she’s often seen as “a romantic comedian,” but surprised audiences with her dramatic turn in Cake, where she played a woman living with chronic pain after a car accident. Aniston initially worried that audiences wouldn’t like seeing her in a role that deviated so much from her usual roles. “It was a terrifying and risky thing,” she said The Hollywood Reporter. “But, I just said, ‘You have to try. At this point, who cares? If you go down on your stomach, okay, you go down on your stomach.’ That’s probably what people expect anyway, because everyone likes to sit there with their little swords and get ready to go, “Aha, see? You are nothing !””


Will Smith is now an acclaimed dramatic actor, even winning the Best Actor Oscar for his role in King Richard. Before he started producing serious films, he was best known for his rap career and his role in The prince of Bel-Air. His role in SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION is often considered his spectacular performance in small groups. Smith actually turned to the acting method to prepare for the role, but later said it cost him dearly. “When that psychological ground drops, it’s horrible,” he said. E !


After taking on characters like Borat and Bruno, Sacha Baron Cohen said it’s hard to imagine yourself in a starring role in a drama. “For me, making the transition from comedy to drama was something I was hesitant to do,” he said. The Hollywood Reporter. “I tried to do it in Hugo and Wretched and a little in Sweeney Toddbut playing a lead role where the character was mostly relatable was something I wasn’t used to doing… I was used to playing larger-than-life, peculiar, bizarre, fascinating characters. “Cohen went on to star in The Chicago 7 Trial and The spy, roles that were both much more serious than his previous fare.


When Mo’Nique, normally known for her stand-up and sitcom work, took on the role of Mary Jones, an abusive mother in the 2009s Precious, she said she was excited about the challenge such a dramatic role would bring. “It was hard because I like to laugh, baby, I like to laugh,” she said The Associated Press. “But it was appreciated because I don’t know of any other director who would have given two big black women the opportunity to do what we did. The world needs to see it because guess what, Mary Jones exists, baby . So is Precious.”


In the 1970s, Steve Martin rose to fame for his comedy, from his stand-up comedy to his appearances on Saturday Night Live. In 1981, he took the helm of the pennies from heaven, his first dramatic role. Martin said NPR that he was having trouble getting the public to understand his new image. “It took a long time,” he said. “But I knew it – that one day it will be forgotten. And so I just did what I was going to do. And there was this effect, you know, the hangover of a wild, crazy guy , of a wild, crazy guy. And now it’s a faint memory.”


Eddie Murphy, known for both his tenure on Saturday Night Live and his roles in comedies like Coming to America and The mad professor decided to take a break from acting, returning in 2016 with a dramatic performance in Mr. Church. “What got me excited Mr. Church was you having this whole performance where everything is the opposite of what I usually do,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t get offered things where it’s all about relationships and family and love. It’s like, ‘This is about family.’ ‘OK, and are there talking animals in it?'”


In 2014, Kristen Wiig took a stark departure from her Saturday Night Live past with leading roles in dramas The Skeleton Twins and Welcome to me. Wiig said She that while she understood why Hollywood classifies actors as comedic or dramatic, she was grateful to break out of that mold and have the opportunity to try out dramatic roles. “Comedy is my heart, but there’s also something really satisfying about being able to walk away with a small cast, become a character and get to know it for a few months at a time.”


After leaving the sitcom circuit following the end of Mork and MindyRobin Williams has starred in dramas like Goodwill hunting and Circle of Dead Poets. He said public perception affected his transition from comedy to drama. “Sometimes people can do both, and it’s just, sometimes people have such an image of people as something that they won’t accept them doing drama,” he said. declared. ABC7. “Sometimes it’s just a fluke. With me, it started a bit with good morning vietnam and dead poets, just to be lucky enough to be in such a powerful movie. It had the power to make people say ‘Oh’ and change their perception.”


Whoopi Goldberg was building her comedy career through her one-man show when she first read Alice Walker The purple color and knew she wanted to be part of it. “I’ll play dirt on the floor,” Goldberg told Walker. Fortunately, Walker had seen Goldberg’s comedy and thought he could play the more serious role of Celie, who is abused by her husband and father. Stephen Spielberg, who directed the film, offered Goldberg the role on location after seeing her perform his ET parody. Goldberg was nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars for her role.


After starring as a comedian taking on murderous gangsters in True storysaid Kevin Hart Variety that he had confidence in his abilities as a dramatic actor. “I know the acting world is there for me if I want to take it,” he said. “If I want to go out there and do it, I know I can do it well, and I think the small steps I’ve taken with Upside down [and] Paternity, it was about slowly getting my audience to say, ‘Oh, my God, how Kevin can act. It’s not just about being funny. We know that in the world of comedy and action and comedy and adventure, he can act. He does that very well. But oh my god, he can do it too.'”


Bill Murray is one of many Saturday Night Live alumni who have proven they have what it takes to play a dramatic role, going from hilarious movies like Caddyshack and groundhog day to more serious films like Lost in translation. Although he racked up nominations and accolades for his dramatic work, Murray said he actually prefers comedy to drama. “‘Listen, your life is very melancholic right now and you’re making melancholic movies. So what do you think is going to happen? It’s just going to get worse.’ That’s what was happening,” he said. vanity lounge. “For years I thought, ‘God, I would really like to be funny again. You know? ‘I would really like to go out there and be funny again.'”


After being a staple of comedy in the 1990s, jim carrey pivoted to more dramatic roles in movies like Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, The Truman Show, and Man on the Moon. Carrey calls each of his dramatic roles his “children” and said each one was especially special to him. “eternal sun is a very rare concept and moment where a writer and director captures a primary human thing, which is the idea of ​​being erased,” he said. “I like all comedies. Sometimes I go for the really edgy, darker stuff.”


And finally, Will Ferrell told the Washington Post that he likes having the opportunity to attempt more serious roles. “I absolutely loved that experience of playing a more direct role, that kind of more dramatic turn, in stranger than fiction. He also added that he was inspired to try his hand at more dramatic roles after realizing some of his favorite comedians had found success in dramas. “I was a fan of the stuff that Jack Lemmon did, and even Tom Hanks, who I think we’ve all forgotten now, totally started out in comedy. Even Bill Murray, who’s one of my comedic heroes, has does such a solid job in dramas now.”

Do any other hilarious actors who turned to drama come to mind? Share them in the comments!

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