8 Times Comedic Actors Gave Unexpectedly Great Dramatic Performances

Jim Carrey in The Truman Show

Jim Carrey was the biggest box office star of the 1990s in any genre. He was most notable for his catchphrases and making funny faces until Peter Weir cast him as lovable everyman Truman Burbank in The Truman Show. While the role wasn’t a complete about-face for the elastic actor, it showed a gentler, more genial side of the funnyman. His comedic training made for some superb deadpan reactions, as his character learns more about his, well, unique life and times. He feels trapped and disoriented in a world that doesn’t seem quite right. But, Carrey also made a convincing sweetheart in a role that could have probably gone to Jimmy Stewart if it were made 50 years earlier.

Instead of delving into the broad slapstick he honed earlier in the decade, Carrey bared his soul. Just as the world tunes in for a close-up of Truman’s life, the film’s audience gets great pleasure from seeing an actor show a flurry of emotions as he begins to realize the truth of his existence. Carrey even won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama for his performance, beating out such esteemed names as Tom Hanks and Ian McKellen. (For some mysterious reason, the Academy didn’t even nominate him that year – or any other year, for that matter.) “What a shocker,” he quipped in his acceptance speech. “If you look back at some of my earlier dramatic work in films like Earth Girls are Easy and Once Bitten, you might have seen this coming.”

Few expected he would take home such acclaim, but it led to finely nuanced performances in the future, in films such as Man on the Moon and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.