They aren’t always just for laughs. When you think about comedians who dabbled at a career in serious acting (and succeeded), a few come to mind- Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Murray. Though it’s not always easy, every now and then an actor known for comedic characters ends up getting acknowledged for a dramatic performance. Here are a few funny people who decided to tone it down and see it they could handle a serious role.
Tambor is known for roles in the Larry Sanders Show and Arrested Development, both very well received shows. Recently, though, Tambor won the Emmy for best actor. While Transparent is considered a comedy, Tambor’s role as a transgender, divorced father of three is a very serious one.
The Big Bang Theory actor has won plenty of awards for his role as Sheldon on the hit comedy series. In 2014, he won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (for the fourth time) while also being nominated for his serious role in the miniseries, The Normal Heart. In The Normal Heart, Parsons plays a gay activist living in NYC during the HIV/AIDS crisis of the early 1980s. Parsons also portrayed the character a few years earlier in the Broadway play version of the film.
The Hangover, Between Two Ferns…Zach Galifianakis is a funny guy. It also wouldn’t come as a surprise if he was nominated for a dramatic role one day. In 2010, Galifianakis portrayed a psych ward patient in It’s Kind of a Funny Story, an adaptation of the 2006 book written by and based on the life of Ned Vizzini. His character, Bobby, helped Galifianakis show off his dramatic side. Last year’s Best Picture winner, Birdman, featured Galifianakis in the supporting cast and could easily help open the door to more serious roles in the future.
She earned an Academy Award nomination for Bridesmaids in 2011, but Wiig is already on her way to being considered for an Oscar in a serious role someday. From indie flicks like The Skeleton Twins and Girl Most Likely to Ridley Scott’s The Martian, Wiig has proven that she doesn’t always have to be funny. Sure, we’re excited to see her as a Ghostbuster, but we’ll also be giving her a standing ovation when she picks up a golden statue.
The Office’s Michael Scott was nominated for an Oscar? Yes, Carell’s portrayal of John du Pont in last year’s Foxcatcher was so good that the Academy should have just handed him the award. Hopefully there will be another opportunity for a nomination, though. Between Carell’s depressing roles in Little Miss Sunshine and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, he has what it takes.