There are some actors who are known for having diverse talents (step forward George Clooney), there are actors known for no talent (I’m sorry but how does Orlando Bloom have a career?) and there are actors who are put into the ‘comedy’ genre and pretty much left there. Everyone loves them because they’re good at being ‘the funny ones’, and you’ll see every funny movie they’re in because they’re just fantastic at being funny.

But there are some comedy actors who’ve done some truly emotional, and at times, quite dark stuff, that doesn’t get them as much credit or even publicity. In the last few months I’ve had my opinion of some comedy actors completely change overnight purely because I never knew they’d done anything different.

Here are my top 5 films with comic actors proving they know more than how to raise a smile.

Kristen Wiig: The Skeleton Twins


Kristen Wiig is just fucking amazing in everything. Although she got her big break in Bridesmaid, the former Saturday Night Live girl has been making us laugh for a while now. I really want to go on a night out with her, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler because you just know it’d get messy for all the right reasons.

But Wiig is so much more than her comedy, as I discovered when I watched the movie The Skeleton Twins. I admit I watched this purely after seeing her and other former SNL regular Bill Hader (my secret crush and soon to be a star in his own right at last) on the poster and assumed it was a comedy…it’s really not.

It’s about a brother and sister who are going through a pretty tough time. While Hader’s character spends the movie trying to ignite a relationship with his former teacher, Wiig’s character takes birth control while telling her husband she wants a baby, has affairs and tries to kill herself on numerous occasions because she’s so unhappy. It’s dark with odd moments of humour, and I guarantee her performance alone with remain with you for weeks.

Not convinced? What if I told you that half way through the film Wiig and Hader lip sync and dance to “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”?

Jack Black: Bernie

bernie poster

Jack Black has an interesting movie history. He’s been in some classic films, but then he also made Gulliver’s Travels, Year One and Nacho Libre. You can’t win them all, and Jack Black proves it. But if you were to think of the genre of Jack Black movies you’d think ‘silly comedies’ right? That’s what I thought, until I saw Bernie…

Bernie is the true story of Bernie Tiede. Bernie was a man of the community, everyone loved him, especially the old ladies that he tended to befriend. But then Bernie made friends with an elderly lady called Marjorie Nugent. To say she wasn’t very nice would be an understatement, and she becomes possessive of him…so he killed her.

That’s right; Jack Black plays a murderer who you sympathise with. It’s not an easy thing to do, but he pulls it off beautifully, and the fact this is a real story makes his performance even more amazing, especially when you see and hear the real Bernie at the end of the movie.

Adam Sandler: Reign Over Me

If I say Adam Sandler you probably think, shouting, a few bad movies that seemed to make a huge profit, shouting, him wearing a dress and more shouting. But if you want to see what Adam Sandler is really capable of, watch Reign Over Me. And make sure you have tissues close by.

Sandler plays Charlie, a man who loses his family in the September 11th attack. He leaves his job, wears headphones constantly and doesn’t interact with anyone, until his old college friend Alan bumps into him. Charlie and Alan have very different problems, and this movie is all about their friendship, and in particular how Alan tries to help Charlie cope with his loss.
The trailer alone won me over, I think it might win you over too…


Jennifer Aniston: Cake


Proving she’s more than just a haircut and Ross’s on/off/on/off/on other half, Jennifer Aniston really doesn’t get enough credit for her versatility. Her performance in the Good Girl attracted attention, but Aniston even admitted that those sorts of scripts don’t land on her doorstep every day.

Luckily, Cake did. Jennifer plays a woman called Claire who becomes fascinated with the suicide of a woman in her chronic pain support group, while also dealing with her own personal issues. It got a limited release over here and yet it won her several nominations at several high profile awards, including the Golden Globes.

Seth Rogen: Guilt Trip

the guilt trip

There’s no denying that Seth Rogen is an acquired taste. This is why it took some convincing to make my friends watch The Guilt Trip. They don’t find him funny in the slightest and believe all his jokes revolve around drugs. But The Guilt Trip has nothing to do with trips of the drug kind, and is more about the family kind.

Seth plays Andy, an inventor who’s going on a road trip looking for investment. Unfortunately his mum (played by the amazing Barbara actual Streisand) wants to come along for the ride. Of course it follows the usual cliché of mother/son who don’t get along and then bond on a road trip, but it has some beautifully emotional moments as well as the classic humour you’d expect from Rogen, albeit a little more grown up and with less fart or sex themed jokes.

Have you got any film recommendations with actors stepping outside their genre comfort zone? I’d love to hear them!

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