Many humorous actors have tried their hand at dramatic parts in recent decades. However, not every dramatic performance by a comic must be dark and brooding, as some roles contain hints of what made the comedian famous in the first place. A tremendous dramatic turn is sometimes unlocked by the appropriate director, and other times by the original material. The following are a few films starring comedians who excelled in dramatic roles.

1. Jon Lovitz in Southland Tales (2006)

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Director- Richard Kelly

The ensemble piece Southland Tales is set in the dystopian landscape of Los Angeles on July 4, 2008, as it stands on the verge of social, economic, and environmental calamity. Santaros, a boxer with amnesia, is a Hollywood action star. His life is intertwined with that of Krysta Now, an adult film star working on her own reality television show, and Ronald Taverner, a Hermosa Beach cop who holds the key to a massive conspiracy.

2. Bill Murray in The Razor’s Edge (1984)

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Director- John Byrum

Larry Darrell is a changed person when he returns to America from the trenches of World War I. When Larry goes to Paris, his fiancee (Isabel) accepts a postponement in the wedding plans. He discovers that he loves a simpler life and begins to read. He is inspired by a book to travel to India and then to Nepal, where he seeks spiritual guidance from a lama. When he returns to Paris, he runs across Isabel and other old acquaintances. Everybody has evolved.

3. Jackie Gleason in The Hustler (1961)

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Director- Robert Rossen

Eddie Felson is a walking embodiment of arrogance. He’s an accomplished pool player who spends his time scamming a few dollars from unsuspecting dopes with his companion Charlie Burns. He believes it’s time to play in the big leagues and faces Minnesota Fats, a well-known pool player. Felson experiences both highs and lows in a forty-hour marathon: he’s up $18,000 halfway through the match but doesn’t know when to stop. He overdrinks and loses everything, including his belief in his abilities to play the game. Slowly, he reorganises and, with the support of his girlfriend, Sarah Packard, regains his self-confidence. Despite Sarah’s advice, his consuming desire takes over once more, resulting in personal tragedy and a rematch with the Minnesota Fats.

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4. Jay Mohr in Playing By Heart (1998)

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Director- Willard Carroll

In Los Angeles, eleven articulate people work with heartfelt issues. Hannah’s television cooking show is produced by Paul, and when she asks about an affair he had years ago, they must go beyond soft barbs. Mark is dying with A.I.D.S., and his mother arrives at his bedside, insisting that they tell the truth. Meredith has been burned by men, so she rejects Trent’s appeal, but he persists. Joan, who is fashionable and witty, seeks to entice Keenan, who is single, into her orbit: why is he hesitant? An adulterous couple meets for evening sex in hotels, but she refuses to let the relationship evolve. Hugh tells ladies in bars tall tales, most of which are terrible. Their parallel stories merge at the conclusion of the week.

5. Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)

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Director- Michel Gondry

Joel Barish is taken aback when he learns that his lifelong love, sparky Clementine, has had him removed from her mind. Poor Joel musters the strength to undertake a simple but complex medical treatment to pay her back in kind, completely oblivious to the fact that darkness is an integral element of the light. Now, as Joel’s bitter and angry memories of Clementine melt away, leaving only a soulless black nothingness, he has second thoughts, playing with the possibility of halting the irreversible process.

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6. Steve Martin in Shopgirl (2005)

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Director- Anand Tucker

Mirabelle leaves her quiet Vermont parents in her twenties to live in Los Angeles. She sells gloves at Saks, lives alone in a flat, and pursues her art on an irregular basis. She’s so lonely that she’ll sleep with Jeremy, a naïve, destitute graphic artist that she meets at a laundry and who never stops talking. Mirabelle meets Ray Porter, a wealthy, charming man residing in L.A. and Seattle, about the same time Jeremy embarks on a months-long road tour as a rock band’s groupie. He feels he’s made it plain that it’s simply a casual relationship, but she has heard it’s more. She’s on cloud nine right now. Meanwhile, Jeremy listens to self-help cassettes on how to relate to women while driving.

7. Rodney Dangerfield in Natural Born Killers (1994)

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Director- Oliver Stone

Mickey Knox, a delivery boy, falls in love with Mallory Wilson, a customer. He soon assists her with the assassination of her violent father and enabling mother, and they embark on their macabre trek down Route 666. Their strategy is to assault everyone within a few miles of their base, leaving only one person surviving to tell the tale. As they travel through the countryside, chased by the similarly vicious Jack Scagnetti, the two become renowned thanks to dishonest reporter Wayne Gale. A ratings-crazed interview by the same reporter who made them famous right before the trial causes chaos not just inside the prison, but across the country. The media, public opinion, and the current attitude toward violence are all mocked in this parody.

8. Jon Stewart in The Faculty (1998)

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Director- Robert Rodriguez

Herrington High School in Herrington, Ohio, is a small-town high school. Suddenly, the teachers’ attitudes begin to shift. Casey and Delilah are forced to hide in a closet in the teacher’s lounge after witnessing Nurse Harper being strangled by two of them. They manage to run, stunned. Only a few moments later, the nurse appears to be fully awake, but also altered, as do all of the professors and the majority of the children. Only Casey, Delilah, and four other people appear to be on the lookout. The chemistry teacher eventually brings proof of an alien virus, as well as a technique to exterminate the infected humans. The goal now is to apprehend the queen before the aliens take over the entire country.

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9. Steve Carell in Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

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Director-  Valerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton

Olive Hoover, seven years old, aspires to be a beauty queen more than anything else in the world. The entire family embarks on a long road trip from Albuquerque to California in their 1978 Volkswagen Station Wagon Type 2 when she qualifies for the prestigious Little Miss Sunshine beauty contest; unfortunately, the voyage is anything but smooth. Sheryl, Olive’s overworked mother, is struggling to be the voice of reason; Richard, her husband, is unsuccessfully promoting his self-help programme; Dwayne, Sheryl’s son from a previous marriage, has decided not to say anything until he enrols in the Air Force Academy; and troubled Uncle Frank simply tags along. However, whatever that can go wrong will go wrong on the way to success.

10. Adam Sandler in Spanglish (2004)

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Director- James L. Brooks

Flor Moreno, a poor single mother with a twelve-year-old daughter, emigrates to Los Angeles from Mexico in the hopes of bettering her daughter’s life. Flor, on the other hand, will face a formidable language barrier and Deborah, John’s unhappy wife, after gaining a position as a maid for the laid-back gourmet chef, John Clasky, and his well-to-do family. As Flor tries to restart her life and, of course, learn English, an obvious cultural clash looms; also, a blossoming romantic attraction begins to take hold.