Normally, actors tend to be confined to specific genres and that’s because they’re good in that genre. Whether it be comedy, drama, or even romantic comedies, it’s about comfort. However, there are many a time where a traditionally “serious” actor will be in a comedy or vice versa and knock it out of the park.
To preface, I know actors are paid to become a variety of characters, but as previously stated, actors are normally associated with certain genres, and sometimes when they act in other films it can either help or hinder their career.
Let’s start with The Godfather trilogy – upon the 1972 release of the first film, it has become one of the greatest films of all time. James Caan plays Sonny Corleone, but he is probably better known as Buddy’s dad in Elf (2003). It turns out that Caan was hesitant taking the role at first, but I think many can agree that his character’s sternness is what makes for some of the funniest scenes, he was actually told at one point to channel Sonny Corleone.
Another mogul from the trilogy is of course Robert De Niro, but I have to tell you, for most of my childhood I associated him with Meet the Parents (2000) as Jack Byrnes, or as the one of the sharks in Shark Tale (2004) – his heavy Yankee accent is what makes these roles so hilarious. The sequel to Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers (2004) also has a big shot, Dustin Hoffman playing the very contrasting Bernie Focker to De Niro’s Jack, and it makes for a great film.
I now want to look at comedy actors that have nailed dramatic roles. Adam Sandler is known for his slapstick comedies, but in 2019 he was the starring role in Uncut Gems which earned him masses of praise, and his Just Go with It (2011) co-star, Jennifer Anniston, whom is normally the face of rom coms took on the role of Claire Bennett in Cake (2014), which personally I feel is a performance that is severely underrated.
I could go on and on about actors that surprise audiences by being in films you would never associate them with, but I’ll end with this; Steve Carrell in Foxcatcher (2014), not only is he unrecognisable, his portrayal of the real-life John du Pont is a must-see!