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13 Actors Who Got Famous by Their Comedy Roles Before Suddenly Unfolding Their Talent in Dramas

Sometimes it might be hard for actors and actresses to refuse their regular types of roles and try something new. Comedy actors are no exception and find this transition hard too. It’s unlikely that people expect funny Danny DeVito to transform into a villain or to see ever-young Zac Efron on a drama about harsh life challenges.

We at Bright Side recalled several actors who were known to us thanks to comedies. Turns out, some of them managed to show themselves in other genres and earn the approval of viewers and critics.

1. Steve Martin

Steve Martin is known for his roles in such comedies as Father of the Bride (1991) and The Pink Panther (2006). But sometimes he leaves his comfort zone and appears in other types of flicks.

In the movie The Spanish Prisoner (1997), Martin played a role of a villain. The scriptwriter came up with a character specially for this actor and invited him to the movie because he believed that comedians can make very good dramatic actors.

2. Vince Vaughn

We have seen Vince Vaughn in many comedy movies, and we can say he does them really well. He was nominated for MTV Movie Award as the Best Comedy Actor for his role in Wedding Crashers (2005).

But Vaughn proved that he is ready to leave the role of a merry chap. He played a person who was hit by his gloomy past in the movie Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017). He was nominated for Saturn Awards (award to honor science fiction, fantasy, and horror in films) for this work.

3. Anna Kendrick

Anna Kendrick has starred a lot in comedy flicks in different roles. She had a supporting role in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), which was followed by the main roles in other comedy movies.

One atypical movie for Kendrick was Stowaway (2021). Her character, a member of a spaceship crew, faces a moral dilemma. The reviews noted that Kendrick managed to show an ambiguous character on the screen.

4. Danny DeVito

Danny DeVito got famous as a comedy actor. One of his most popular flicks is Twins (1988) where he played a rapscallion Vincent Benedict. In recent years, he has been working in a comedy series called It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005—...).

Due to this reputation, it’s easy to forget that he also appeared on the screen in a non-typical role of a villain. DeVito played the character named Penguin in Batman Returns (1992) DeVito. He was nominated for Saturn Awards as the Best Supporting Actor.

5. Aubrey Plaza

Aubrey Plaza can be recalled thanks to her comedy characters, including the role of the apathetic intern in Parks and Recreation (2009–2015). However, Aubrey played the role of a villain who has challenged the main characters several times in the Criminal Minds (2005–2020) series. The audience appreciated this change of role and praised the multi-sided character Plaza showed on the screen.

6. Jim Parsons

Jim Parsons has also been playing in a comedy series for several years. He is known for the role of Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory (2007–2019).

Parsons played a scientist in Hidden Figures (2016) again. This time there was nothing funny in this character because he was dismissive of his colleagues — the main characters of the film. The reviews noted that the actor managed to play this role really well.

7. Zac Efron

Zac Efron has been acting in comedies since a young age. The flick 17 Again (2009) is on the list of comedies he performed in, too. In this movie, he played a younger version of Matthew Perry’s character. Now the actor has matured and is not afraid to take on roles that would be a challenge for many actors.

His character in Gold (2022) travels in a harsh desert — definitely, not the place for a comedy. The movie received mixed reviews, but the reviews say it’s Efron who saved the flick.

8. Renée Zellweger

Renée Zellweger has been the star of comedies for a long time. Not only Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) and its sequels are on the list of her comical roles, but also New in Town (2009) where Zellweger played a career-builder who had to move from a sunny state to a snowy town.

The actress proved that she is ready for dramatic roles too. A series based on true events, The Thing About Pam (2022) is one of her latest works. According to the plot, Zellweger’s character turns out to be connected with a crime of which another person is accused.

9. Judy Greer

Judy Greer is known for her supporting roles in comedy movies and series. Those who like rom-coms will likely recall the friend of the main character in 13 Going on 30 (2004).

In The Thing About Pam (2022) Greer plays a prosecutor who has a very tangled case.

10. Luke Wilson

Luke Wilson has appeared in many comedies. His character Emmett was a lawyer and was helping the main character in Legally Blonde (2001).

After a chain of other comedy roles, Wilson started to work in new genres. In the series Stargirl (2020—...), he played a stepfather of a girl who gets super abilities. This work brought him a nomination for a Saturn Awards.

11. Lizzy Caplan

Lizzy Caplan is remembered by viewers by the role she played at a young age — Janis in Mean Girls (2004). After that, she starred in several more comedies, but also worked in other genres.

For example, she played the young version of Annie Wilkes in the second season of Castle Rock (2018–2019). Yep, the very Annie, at whose house the character of the Misery book and its same-name screen version was unlucky to stay. The audience felt that Caplan did an excellent job with the role and brought something new to the image of a familiar character.

12. Matthew Perry

Perhaps when mentioning the name Matthew Perry, many people instantly get the image of an eternal joker Chandler from Friends (1994–2004). There are other comedic flicks in the actor’s filmography, but there are also dramas.

In the movie based on true events called The Ron Clark Story (2006), Perry played a wise teacher who works in a class of difficult teenagers. This role brought the actor a nomination for Emmy and Golden Globe Awards.

13. Jason Segel

Jason Segel played Marshall, one of the main characters in the comedy series How I Met Your Mother (2005–2014). The end of the series didn’t become a reason for Segel to pause his career or look for another comedy project.

Instead, he starred in a movie based on true events The End of the Tour (2015), where he played the author of the novel Infinite Jest. He was nominated for several awards for this role and was recognized as the best actor according to Film Club’s The Lost Weekend.

Which comedian did you not expect to see in a serious role?

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