In the modern era, when typecasting has become too common, it may be quite a shock to see an actor well-known for comedy in a serious role, particularly if they are famed for appearing in gross-out movies or other similarly broad comedies. But many comedic actors have swapped their comfort zones and challenged themselves with roles that are light years different from what they usually play.
Plenty of comedians have made the jump to drama. Let’s take Robin Williams and Jamie Foxx for examples. They began their careers as good comedians but then won Oscars for their roles in the dramatic movies “Good Will Hunting” and “Ray” respectively. Their great dramatic performances have surprised their fans and taken them to new heights in their professions.
According to Rotten Tomatoes, we’ve ranked 10 comedic actors whose outstanding dramatic performances made viewers say wow.
#10 Will Ferrell as Harold Crick in “Stranger Than Fiction” (2006): 73%
Source: Columbia Pictures
Will Ferrell starred as Harold Crick in “Stranger Than Fiction”, for which he got a Golden Globe nomination.
#9 Eddie Murphy as James “Thunder” Early in ‘Dreamgirls” (2006): 78%
Although Eddie Murphy cemented his status as a comic with performances in “The Nutty Professor” or “Mulan”, he caught the attention of the Academy with “Dreamgirls”. He received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
#8 Whoopi Goldberg as Celie Johnson in “The Color Purple” (1985): 81%
Source: Warner Bros.
Whoopi Goldberg, a stand-up comedian, portrayed Celie Johnson, a black Southern woman struggling to find her identity after being mistreated by her father and others over four decades. For her role, she earned herself a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama.
#7 Jack Black as Carl Denham in “King Kong” (2005): 84%
Source: Warner Bros. Pictures
Jack Black gave a great dramatic turn when starring as Carl Denham in Jackson’s epic “King Kong”. He nailed the movie’s iconic line “twas beauty killed the beast”.
#6 Steve Coogan as Martin Sixsmith in “Philomena” (2013): 90%
Steve Coogan not only took on the role of Martin Sixsmith in “Philomena” but also wrote the script with Jeff Pope. All their efforts are rewarded when the two were nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar.
#5 Mo’Nique as Mary in “Precious” (2009): 91%
Mo’Nique portrayed Mary, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen in “Precious”. The actress swept award season, ending with a Best Supporting Actress Oscar win. But, before that, no one imagined that she was going to be a future Oscar winner.
#4 Jim Carrey as Joel Barish in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004): 93%
Source: Focus Features
Jim Carrey gave a few dramatic turns in the 90s, including “The Truman Show” and “Man on the Moon”. But the role of Joel Barish in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” stuck in viewers’ minds until now.
#3 Bill Murray as Bob Harris in “Lost in Translation” (2003): 95%
Bill Murray appeared as Bob Harries in “Lost in Translation”, in which he received a Best Actor Oscar nomination.
#2 Robin Williams as Will Hunting in “Good Will Hunting” (1997): 97%
Source: Miramax Films
Will Hunting in “Good Will Hunting” is a janitor at M.I.T, who has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life. The role was taken over by Robin Wiliams. For his performance, he won an Oscar Award for Best Supporting Actor.
#1 Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel in ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (2018): 98%
Source: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Melissa McCarthy gave a great performance as a lonely, bitter, and unlikeable woman who you can’t help but pity and even root for in the movie “Philomena”. McCarthy thoroughly deserved the best actress nomination she got for this movie.