Top 10: Dramatic Actors Who Should Do More Comedies

Long Shot

Audiences remain familiar with  Charlize Theron‘s work through her consistently dramatic choices. But the Oscar winner rarely dabbles into the comedy genre. Theron may have given some wry comedic turns in “Young Adult” and “Tully,” which garnered her wide acclaim, but they aren’t comedies in the same vein of her upcoming film. “Long Shot,” co-starring the ever tied-to comedy Seth Rogen, proves to be a rare exception for the actress. One, according to early reviews, garners Theron ever encouraging praise.

Theron is not the only screen star who consistently, it seems, chooses drama over comedy. Whether it’s by choice or typecasting, these ten actors and actress haven’t let their humorous-freak-flags fly quite as often. Here’s hoping that changes with this list of ten actors and actresses who consistently take on dramatic roles but should definitely give their loyal fans a chance to see them take stab at comedy.

Marion Cotillard

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Oscar winner Marion Cotillard is one of her generation’s most accomplished actresses. She’s worked with auteurs like Michael Mann, the Dardennes, and Christopher Nolan, to name a few. Cotillard has tackled both French and English language roles with absolute ease, but aside from her cameo in “Anchorman: The Legend Continues,” she hasn’t really demonstrated her comical chops in American films. Maybe the actress would be suited to a villainous role in a spy comedy. It would, at least, be a fun parody of the mysterious femme fatales she’s portrayed in the past.

Rooney Mara

Dont Worry Rooney Mara

One of Rooney Mara’s best known qualities in her work is is her subtle, nuanced style. Films like “Una” and “Carol” have utilized her skill set to absolute perfection with the latter film earning the actress an Oscar nomination. While her peculiar work ethic might not seem like a fit for the comedy genre at first, Mara could still pull off playing the straight man in a comedic duo with the same effortlessness. If anything, her brief performance in “The Social Network” is a slight demonstration of her dry wit and timing.

Michael Shannon

Michael Shannon

Much like Mara, Michael Shannon could pull off dry, deadpan lines as effortlessly as his villainous, Oscar nominated roles. Though the actor usually typecast in darker roles, there’s a definite chance Shannon could bring out the comedy for any of his future vehicles. In some of his past dramatic work, the actor has been able to deliver sardonic one liners, leaving the opportunity to a leading character in a comedy open. Shannon only needs the right role that shows audiences the various talents he possesses.

Viola Davis

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Admittedly, Viola Davis has recently taken a break from her dramatic sensibilities. In the upcoming dramedy “Troop Zero” which premiered at Sundance, she has a starring role, but the film is still a rare instance of the actress showing off her comedic chops. The film doesn’t have to be an exception. Since Davis is known for her ensemble dramas, the offer may be out there for a “Gloria“-style starring project. No matter what the film is, Davis has proven without a doubt she can tackle any character.

Jessica Chastain

Jessica Chastain

Jessica Chastain is one of Hollywood’s most in demand actresses, dipping her feet into all sorts of projects. She can be seen in the upcoming “Eve” flexing her action hero muscles as well as her scifi prowess in “X-Men: Dark Phoenix,” but audiences have yet to see her skill set in a comedic role. There is a comedy starring Chastain and Octavia Spencer that is in the works, but there hasn’t been much word on the project since its initial announcement. With her successful stint on “Saturday Night Live,” a comedy is surely around the corner. Here’s hoping the wait won’t be too long.

Jake Gyllenhaal

jake gyllenhaal

Another actor who is staying busy with work but primarily gravitates towards dramatic material,  Jake Gyllenhaal might not have had the best of luck with the comedy genre but there is no reason who couldn’t make a return. Failed ventures “Bubble Boy” and “Accidental Love” are often forgotten for a reason. However, there’s no reason for him not to try again with a more deserving project. Given his immense versatility, the actor can play both sides of a comedic duo. Either the serious straight man or the comedic agent of chaos. Whichever side of the coin he lands on, he’d do wonders with a role.

Denzel Washington

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Years have passed since Denzel Washington dabbled into comedy fare. “2 Guns” starring Washington and Mark Wahlberg was the last film where Washington demonstrated both his penchant for comedy and his skills in action films. Fans know the actor can play men who are good, bad, or veering towards the grey area, but why not cast him in films where audiences see his more playful side?  Washington could not only do a romantic comedy but one with the aforementioned Viola Davis. Anyone who’s seen “Fences” knows they have wonderful chemistry and a powerful working dynamic.

Oscar Isaac

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This man can sing and dance while oozing star power for days. Oscar Isaac can go from playing a likable action hero to a shady scientist with ease. For more proof he truly can do no wrong, he deserves a potential showcase for his comedic timing. Isaac may have had a small role in the dark comedy “Suburbicon” a few years back, but if he does tackle more comedies going forward, hopefully, they yield much better results. Something like a buddy film in the vein of “The Nice Guys” might be in his bandwidth.

Michael Fassbender

prometheus michael fassbender

Playing dark, brooding characters has become a slight trademark for the acclaimed Irish actor. It’s a trend Michael Fassbender himself said he wants break free from and one can hardly blame him. Even the comedy “Frank,” where he played the titular character, had an underlying tragedy. When promoting “Alien: Covenant,” the actor stated he wants to try his hand at comedy, particularly a project with Seth Rogen, his “Steve Jobs” co-star. Since Rogen’s humor tends to be raunchy, the pairing would be interesting to see. Since his “Prometheus” co-star Charlize Theron made the leap, there is no reason his chances should feel like a “Long Shot.”

Cate Blanchett

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Cate Blanchett is undoubtedly compelling in each role she takes on. Even in the Marvel vehicle “Thor: Ragnarok,” the actress chews up the scenery and is delightful to watch in all her villainous glory. One element of her talent that remains underutilized is her penchant for comedic timing. Fans who see her give acceptance speeches or appear on talk shows know she has a natural charm and humorous delivery. Blanchett may have appeared in “Ocean’s Eight” last year but she still had little to work with. If the right director and script come along, though, she can prove her extended talents. Whether it’s the deadpan audaciousness of Yorgos Lanthimos or a women-centric romp like those of Nancy Meyers, Blanchett would enhance the comedic project of any filmmaker she potentially works with.

What do you think? Which dramatic performer do you think should let their freak flag fly? Please share your thoughts in the comments section!


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Written by Matt St.Clair

Matt St.Clair is a freelance film journalist currently residing in Connecticut. He is a member of the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association and the Online Film & Television Association.


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