Countless actors are known mainly for their comedic prowess and, therefore, funny movies. Will Ferrell, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, and Melissa McCarthy are just a few examples. There are, however, some actors known more for straight, dramatic performances that are so talented that they've been able to turn their hands to comedy movies adeptly.
In a movie forum, someone asked, “What are some comedies where a normally dramatic actor stars and nails it?” Here are ten of the best responses given.
1. Airplane! (1980)
Several users suggested Airplane! as an answer, with u/WhippetRun saying, “Airplane! Most of them were never in any comedies before.”
u/Thatguyxlii elaborated by listing: “Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves, Lloyd Bridges,” and “Robert Stack,” and adding, “They were all dramatic actors.” That's entirely true. Many people think of Nielsen, in particular, as a comedic actor, but he was a dramatic actor before Airplane! and was only typecast comedically after he appeared in the crazy spoof movie.
2. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
u/edmerx54 answered, “Michael Caine — Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) . . . he's made a lot of movies so there are probably some others.”
This user is correct. While Caine is a predominantly dramatic actor, he has appeared in several other comedy movies, including California Suite (1978), Blame It on Rio (1984), Miss Congeniality (2000), and Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002). He was brilliant alongside comedy icon Steve Martin in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
3. Men in Black (1997)
u/maredie1 suggested “Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black.”
While Men in Black (and its sequels, two of which also starred Tommy Lee Jones) is predominantly a sci-fi movie, it's also very much a comedy. Jones' gruff and authoritative persona – which has seen him appear in The Fugitive (1993), No Country for Old Men (2007), and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – worked well in the funny franchise.
4. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
u/pogpole's answer is a bona fide cinematic classic; “George C. Scott and Sterling Hayden in Dr. Strangelove,” and there was complete agreement from u/No-Chemistry-28, who said, “George C. Scott does one of my all-time favorite comedy performances in this. He plays it so damn good.”
Satirical black comedy Dr. Strangelove is one of the finest movies ever made. Scott was known for his roles in movies like Anatomy of a Murder (1959) and Patton (1970), while Hayden famously appeared in The Killing (1956) and The Godfather (1972).
5. Tropic Thunder (2008)
Tropic Thunder was suggested by a couple of users, including u/burntroy and u/ThrowingChicken, both of whom wrote “Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder.”
Cruise has appeared in other comedies — notably Losin' It and Risky Business (both 1983) – but is more well known for action-packed, dramatic roles like Top Gun (1986), Days of Thunder (1990), War of the Worlds (2005), and the Mission Impossible movies (1996-present). His role as Less Grossman in Tropic Thunder required him to wear a fatsuit, which is very different from anything else he's ever done.
6. Dumb and Dumber (1994)
u/IShouldSaySoSir answered, “Dumb and Dumber – Jeff Daniels.”
While Jim Carrey — who we mentioned in our introduction — is a comedy actor by trade, Daniels has appeared in far more straight roles (and the other comedies he's been in have been considerably less goofy than Dumb and Dumber). Daniels is known for movies like Gettysburg (1993), Speed (1994), State of Play (2009), and Steve Jobs (2015).
7. The Nice Guys (2016)
u/Houli_B_Back suggested “The Nice Guys.” The same user then elaborated, specifying, “Both Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling.”
The comedy buddy movie is undoubtedly a far cry from the two stars' usual roles, with Crowe famous for the likes of Gladiator (2000), A Beautiful Mind (2001), and American Gangster (2007), and Gosling known for movies like The Notebook (2004), La La Land (2016), and First Man (2018).
8. Oscar (1991)
“Sylvester Stallone in OSCAR– he’d always done action or drama but this movie was really funny,” replied u/prosperosniece.
Stallone's action roles include the likes of the Rambo movies (1982-2019), Demolition Man (1993), and The Expendables franchise (2010-present), and his dramatic roles include the Rocky series (1976-present), Over the Top (1987), and Cop Land (1997). Oscar, on the other hand, was pure comedy.
9. We're No Angels (1955)
u/AlfieHitchcock said, “This is super specific and old but Bogart in We're No Angels.”
This is a great suggestion. The Christmas comedy movie was very different from Bogart's typical dramatic roles, which included the likes of The Petrified Forest (1936), Dead End (1937), The Maltese Falcon (1941), Casablanca (1942), and The Big Sleep (1946).
10. The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)
“The banshees of inisherin. Caught me off guard because I didn’t realize it was a comedy until about 20-30 minutes in, even though I was laughing and suspicious for a little bit. I was also high.”
They were the words of u/ObedMain35fart. Although the user didn't say any actors' names, we assume they're referring to Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. Farrell is known best for his straight roles in the likes of Alexander (2004), In Bruges (2008), and the second season of HBO's thriller series True Detective (2015), while Gleeson is famous for his appearances in drama movies like Braveheart (1995), Gangs of New York (2002), and Calvary (2014).
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Featured Image Credit: New Line Cinema.