From comedy to drama: Here are 3 actors that nailed it and 3 others that failed it!

2015-08-28 05:00

Cape Town - So how do you feel when the person who makes you laugh most on screens big and/or small goes over to the serious side?

You can’t blame them for wanting to try something different, of course – actors are all about mixing it up in their constant quest to avoid one of showbiz’ biggest blights: being typecast.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Check out our list to see who nailed it and who blew it when they cut the comedy and delved into a little darkness.


1) Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Nobody does over-the-top comedy like rubber-faced Jim. Who would’ve thought he’d be able to tone it down so nicely too? Eternal Sunshine is a heartbreaking boy-meets-girl story and Jim does it justice. And then some.

What the critics said: Carrey’s ability to represent the average guy just looking to love and be loved is at times painful to watch, but that good way that makes all the red wine you’re drinking not just tasty but necessary. (

Box office takings: $34,400,301. Which is cool for a cult classic.

2 Will Ferrell in Stranger Than Fiction

Okay, so strictly speaking it’s more quirky than dramatic but Will still plays it straight – well, sort of – and he’s pretty good. He stars as an internal revenue service agent who has led a sedate, orderly life – until his wristwatch gets bored of it all and mystically shakes things up.

What the critics said: “Will shows that, like Steve Martin and Robin Williams, he has dramatic gifts to equal his comedic talent.” (

Box office takings: $40,660,952. Pretty neat.

3 Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting (and The Fisher King and Dead Poets Society)

The late Mr Williams could do a lot of things: stand-up, accents, characters galore, schmaltz ad nauseum, comedy and drama. Although there were some misses in there (Patch Adams pops to mind…), when he was good he was very, very good. It was hard to pick just one serious film among the batch, but we’re going with Good Will – in which he plays a psychologist assigned to help troubled whizzkid Will, played by Matt Damon – because it’s just such a classic.

What the critics said: “Robin Williams delivers two speeches so juicy they look set to become actors’ audition pieces: one about the virtue of perfection, the other a hostile lecture to Will on the difference between knowledge and experience. Williams brings off the double of sharpness and tenderness.” (The Telegraph)

Box office takings: $138,433,435. Wowza!


1. Jennifer Aniston in Cake

She’s been praised for her comic timing, a gift that made her irresistible as Rachel and had fans flocking to see her romcoms like Along Came Polly and Rumor has It. But despite earning herself a Golden Globe nomination for her role as a pain-pill addict in Cake, the movie didn’t do well.

What the critics said: Jen makes the most of an “overdue opportunity to test her dramatic chops, but the film lacks sufficient depth or warmth to recommend it for all but her most ardent fans”. (Rotten Tomatoes)

Box office takings: Just $1,951,779. Compare that to the biggest grossing movie of 2015 so far – Jurassic World with a staggering figure of $637,971,480. Also, Cake is 98th on the list of movies for 2015. All kinds of ouch.

Do we hold it against Jen? Hell no! But make us laugh again soon, please?

2. Adam Sandler in Men, Women and Children (among others)

Adam is okay in comedies (think Spanglish, The Wedding Singer, 50 First Dates) but he’s one of those guys who’s only really as good as the person who’s directing him. And when the direction is dodgy, as it was in Men, it’s all rather dismal. If you haven’t seen it (and let’s face it, there are more in that camp than the other one), it’s about a group of high school kids and their parents navigating the ways the internet has changed relationships, communication and love lives. All very zeitgeisty but…

What the critics said: “Sandler is just one poor sap in this ensemble piece. These characters are not believable people, just conduits for spreading a Luddite mentality. Although Sandler might be commended for taking on a more ambitious role than usual, he sleepwalks through most of the film.” (

Box office takings: A scandalous $705,908.

Do we hold it against Adam? Maybe. Stick to making Spanglish sandwiches, Addie. That was great.

3 Eddie Izzard in Valkyrie

Eddie is a great comedian and, as one reviewer put it, “if I wanted help writing a rambling surrealist monologue or choosing a bra, he’d be the first person I’d tweet”. But his performance in this movie isn’t recommended. From crack-us-up cross-dresser to nasty Nazi... it just doesn’t work.

What the critics said: “Valkyrie featured some excellent actors on fantastic form but Izzard looked like he was performing improv in big boy pants. He stuck out as one of my major concerns with the film and since then I’ve never been convinced he’s any good as an actor.” (

Box office takings: $83,077,833. Not great considering Tom Cruise headlined.

Do we hold it against Eddie? Nah. But stick to the frocks and shocks. It’s how we love you best. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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