12 Dramatic Actors Who Seriously Need To Try More Comedy

Who could have guessed that, when 21 Jump Street hit theaters a couple of years ago, the comic highlight would be Channing Tatum? The leading man was, at the time, Hollywood's next big thing, but no one knew exactly what kind of performer we had on our hands. Now, with a couple of years to look back, and with 22 Jump Street reaching theaters, we realize we've had an ace comedic performer in our midst.

Hollywood is filled with actors who definitely have a funny bone, but just no opportunity to show it. Sometimes it's typecasting. Sometimes it's the very fact that comedy is very hard. Sometimes it's the overwhelming, deadly-serious genre pictures coming out of the industry every week. Whatever the case, here are a dozen actors that we thought could benefit from a lead comedic role, something silly and lightweight to diversify their careers and show their fans that sometimes, being a movie star means just having a good time.


Hugh Jackman

Has there ever been such a divide between who an actor is onscreen and off? In movies, Jackman is the tortured loner Wolverine, the morally-conflicted Jean Valjean in Les Miserables and the haunted suburban dad Keller Dover in Prisoners. And offscreen, Jackman is a singing, dancing master of ceremonies, a jovial spirit who seems to always be having a good time. Jackman was actually a fine Woody Allen leading man in Scoop eight years ago, and brought a slight daring streak to the first sketch of the execrable Movie 43, right before that movie headed over a cliff. Surely there's something out there for the most likable guy in Hollywood.


Forest Whitaker

Whitaker is a Hollywood lifer who nonetheless seems like the saddest and most serious guy in every movie. Sometimes you want to reach out and give him a hug. And sometimes you want to just cower in fear. The common thread in those performances is Whitaker's intensity, which audiences usually experience in a wide range of films four or five times a year. Why not change it up a little bit, do something weird? Whitaker isn't always a leading man, but it's hard to say he wouldn't generate laughs popping up in a supporting role in some spoof comedy. One look at Whitaker just proves that the guy loves to work, so a little bit of diversity wouldn't kill him.


Lupita Nyong'o

Nyong'o stole Hollywood's heart during the Oscars when she not only took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, but when she gave the best speech of the night. Fortunately, her screen persona is undefined as of yet, though she'll pop up in Star Wars Episode VII. Now is the time to see her and her immaculate smile in something lightweight and charming. If Hollywood can give Paula Patton a Baggage Claim, SOMEONE can get Lupita a fun, jokey script. Buddy comedy with Jennifer Lawrence? Anyone?


Tom Cruise

To us, Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder was a breakthrough for Tom Cruise, a late-career comedic powerhouse from a man previously known as the world's most humorless star. Since then, plans for a Grossman movie and a Ben Stiller teamup called The Hardy Men have both stalled, leading to Cruise continuing to play the usual unstoppable alpha male action hero to diminishing returns. Now with Edge Of Tomorrow underwhelming at the box office, it's the perfect time for Cruise to play a genuine loser, one without a force of personality. What if Cruise channeled that intensity into a beta male role? In movies like Knight And Day, he has shown that he's more than willing to send up his image. He just needs the material.


Russell Crowe

Oh Russ, why the stern face? Audiences this year caught Crowe as a scowling villain in Winter's Tale and as the world's scariest fundamentalist in Noah. For OUR sake, maybe he should do something funny. Crowe's self-seriousness has become something of a parody, but one look at his Twitter account shows an acerbic deadpan personality. Crowe's going to start aging soon, and now's the time to poke fun at himself as a respectable macho leading man before he moves into his grandpa years.


Chris Hemsworth

Out of all the Avengers, Chris Hemsworth is the one who just hasn't gotten a single chance to be really funny outside of superheroes. And yet, Thor is the most clearly comic out of all of them: a Norse god in a red cape walking amongst mortals, totally oblivious to his absolute power. Hemsworth plays the lighthearted fish-out-of-water stuff pretty well, with a slight wink and a nod to the absolute ridiculousness of the premise. While Daniel Bruhl earned awards attention for Rush, Hemsworth was just as good, playing another handsome golden god with swagger that almost feels three dimensional coming off the screen. That sort of charisma is sure to make Hemsworth a huge star outside of Marvel, but it should also help him translate to sillier, more humorous fare: Hemsworth as a stud in a romantic comedy who learns from his hubris is the sort of script that writes itself.


Patrick Stewart

Stewart isn't onscreen much, mostly doing stage work and chipping in with random voice work on Seth MacFarlane shows. But the general public still only thinks of Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier or Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Of course, they're missing out. Did you see him on Extras? It's priceless. Stewart knows full well how his own voice gives the impression of ultimate authority, and how that sort of thing can be mocked and ridiculed. Stewart's in an upcoming indie, Match, a drama where he gets to reveal a soft comedic side as well. But the guy's clearly got a funny bone, so why not let him be overly silly? And can he invite Sir Ian McKellen?


Tilda Swinton

Tilda Swinton is TERRIFYING. And, more importantly, she's heard all your jokes about her possible immortality, her resemblance to David Bowie, her ethereal beauty. It almost feels like her performance in Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive is a snarky play on that persona. But she's more than just a personality, as evidenced by her Oscar win for Michael Clayton. Swinton has a do-it-all sense of daring that would make her boldly leap into any situation with a prankish glee. Adding a sense of mischief to characters in films like Burn After Reading and Snowpiercer is one thing. But allowing yourself to be the butt of a joke is another, and Swinton is totally up for it.


Denzel Washington

Denzel has got that legendary smile and that GREAT laugh, and yet, we only see him use it in pitch-black dramas. He's funny as an unwitting cop in Inside Man, and humorously shady in 2 Guns, but he hasn't made any out-and-out comedies since the eighties. Maybe Washington should re-team with Spike Lee for one of his shambling late-career comedies, where he's the comic tough dad on the block. Or maybe Hollywood can finally get him in a sweet romantic comedy where he plays a stubborn widower who meets someone new. Denzel's one of the industry's best actors, there's got to be a way to use that skill set.


Sean Penn

It's nice to see, as Sean Penn has evolved into the most self-serious screen persona one could imagine, that he's stretching himself by playing an action hero in The Gunman. It's good that Penn hit the gym and is going to try the type of movies he mocked Nicolas Cage for doing, once upon a time. But what about Spicoli? Why are we acting like Jeff Spicoli, the stoner icon from Fast Times At Ridgemont High, never happened? Penn's got the comic timing that could pull off something silly, maybe with the Farrelly Brothers, and nobody's desire to mock their own image should be stronger than Penn's, slowly cultivating a silly Most Interesting Man persona without really realizing how dorky it looks on him. He's got a ton of funny friends in the industry, and a horrible public image problem. Those buddies should hook him up.


Benicio Del Toro

He's got the Oscar, he's considered one of the best actors in the industry... why not let loose a little and show the world your hilarious side? Del Toro is always the best thing about every movie he's in, and he can be very funny, as parts in stuff like The Way Of The Gun and Snatch can attest to. He'll show up next in Guardians Of The Galaxy, playing the wacko supervillain The Collector, a role that may allow him the chance to indulge his inner comic ham (possibly with a slight Flash Gordon influence) so the desire to deflate his intense screen persona is certainly there. We wouldn't complain if Del Toro just played cops, killers and maniacs for the rest of his life, but he's shown he can be a real funny dude. Let's see it.


Cobie Smulders

The one member of the How I Met Your Mother crew that seemingly has been completely handcuffed by her career outside the show. Despite being the comic equal to the rest of the cast, Smulders instead is locked in as stern taskmaster Maria Hill in Marvel's superhero universe, while playing the "straight guy" in lame comedies like Delivery Man and The Slammin' Salmon. She's absolutely gorgeous, with a fanbase and timing derived from an extremely long-running sitcom: couldn't there be some silly role Hollywood can find for her? She shows up in David Wain's They Came Together this summer (with Michael Shannon, who also needs a lighter role), but she's deserving of a comic lead, something that shows her she's not doomed to play Generic Girlfriend roles in between Maria Hill appearances.