With the release of Can You Ever Forgive Me, we will be witness to Melissa McCarthy making a leap to a significant dramatic role. There have been numerous other instances of this comedian turned serious actor formula – so in honour of McCarthy’s new forray, here are my 5 favourite examples of funny actors in serious roles (in no particular order).
Kristen Wiig started her career on SNL in 2005, and was launched immediately into the limelight. She’s clever, quick and has incredible timing, it’s no surprise she was an immediate hit on the show. More recently, however, she’s tried her hand (successfully I might add) at more serious roles. While still being limited in her non-comedic filmography, her roles in The Martian, and mother! were both heavier roles for her, in pointedly non comedies. She’ll soon be playing the main antagonist of DC’s upcoming Wonder Woman 1984, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing what she can do with yet another unconventional role.
Jim Carrey is one of the funniest actors around. He’s been in classics like Ace Ventura, and Liar Liar, and not-so-classic (but still entertaining) films like The Cable Guy, and Batman Forever. But riddle me this! Name a comedian who started off by being rejected by SNL, then made it big through slapstick comedies before winning a Golden Globe for an outstanding portrayal of a man stuck inside a reality TV show of his life? If you guessed Jim Carrey you’d be correct! He’s taken his skills from being the man with an “elastic face” to making us cry in The Truman Show and Man on The Moon. He’s a man of many talents, and with each new role and genre he takes on, he seems to reveal a new one.
John Krasinski was an unknown when The Office first ran it’s pilot back in 2005. Since then he’s become a household name for his portrayal of Jim Halpert, and more recently due to his impressive turn at directing and starring in a horror film. This year’s A Quiet Place was a fantastic horror film, tense and beautifully directed, with the theme of parents and their love for their children at its core. Krasinski’s direction was impressive, but even more so were his newly minted dramatic chops. Krasinski put in a tear-jerking and subtly nuanced performance in this self-directed masterclass in tension, and proved once and for all that he’s not just a walking gif. Since then Krasinski played the titular character of Jack Ryan, the Amazon Studios original series. He’s upping his game with each new project, and I can’t wait to see what he does next!
Yet another alum of The Office, Steve Carell, who found fame through his iconic portrayal of Michael Scott, as well as his work in The 40 Year Old Virgin and Despicable Me, has recently turned to more serious work. This can be seen in his newest effort, Beautiful Boy, playing a grief stricken father, watching his son’s life be torn asunder while in the throws of drug addiction. The performance is a striking and award worthy one, and truly demonstrates how much range Carell has. With other fantastic dramatic work under his belt, like that of Foxcatcher, and another film later this year (Welcome to Marwen), Carell is on the rise again, and his future now seems destined to be full of both comedy and drama.
Jonah Hill made waves this September with his new film Mid90s. Many were surprised that Hill, the kid from Superbad and 21 Jump Street was directing a dramatic movie, but the beginnings of his ascent to direction are sewn throughout his recent filmography. After becoming a household name due to his iconic comedy filmography, Hill was cast in Moneyball, a Sorkin written drama about baseball, The Wolf of Wall Street, a Scorsese directed drama about Jordan Belfort, and was nearly cast in the role of Sean Parker in David Fincher’s The Social Network. Hill proved in his dramatic work that he was not simply a one-hit wonder, and that he was capable of far more that many expected from him. Since then, his directorial effort seems to have done much the same thing, leaving me very excited for whatever he chooses to do next.