Most of the time, the reason behind a movie’s excellent reception with audiences and critics is due to its great filmmaking and scriptwriting. However, the efforts made in these two aspects will all be for nothing if they aren’t executed well by the actors.
Over the years, the film industry has introduced numerous iconic stars. These celebrities are often given credit for their acting chops, onscreen presence, and overall charismatic persona both on and off the camera. However, for today’s article, we will be talking about actors who also excel in another field: comedy.
“Smile, my boy. It’s sunrise.”
-Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt in the Night at the Museum movies
If you ask any filmgoer or enthusiast who their favorite comedian is, chances are a good many will say Robin Williams. Even after his unfortunate passing, the late actor’s impact in film history strongly remains and shows no signs of fading away any time now. In fact, his popularity has transcended to such a degree that even animals love him, especially the late Koko the gorilla – she used to sign for the late actor to tickle her when he would come and visit. To this day, Williams’ performance in films like the original Aladdin, Flubber, Mrs. Doubtfire, Dead Poets Society, and Good Will Hunting is considered one of cinema’s timeless works.
“A wonderful thing about true laughter is that it just destroys any kind of system of dividing people.”
If there’s ever a world-famous comedy group, it would undoubtedly be Monty Python, co-founded by John Cleese. Throughout his still-active career, Cleese is often known for his performance in Monty Python’s Flying Circus and films like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Meaning of Life, and A Fish Called Wanda. However, besides acting, the comedian-actor also dabbled in other things. Outside of writing and starring in films, Cleese also made investments in preserving various forms of wildlife. In fact, in 2005, researchers even named a new breed of lemur the Avahi Cleesei in honor of his contributions to the field.
“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here. This is the War Room!”
Peter Sellers as President Merkin Muffley in Dr. Strangelove
If there is one iconic star that modern-day comedians often look up to, Peter Sellers would arguably take that credit. Throughout his career, the late Sellers was not just a man with a great sense of humor, but a man of many voices as well. For most of his films, the actor would often portray his characters with distinct accents without any trouble – this is just the cherry on top of his already-remarkable acting skills. However, his most iconic role was as the clumsily hilarious Chief Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films, where his comedic chops are at their finest.
“Don’t think about your errors or failures; otherwise, you’ll never do a thing.”
Before he became one of Hollywood’s most iconic actors, Bill Murray once worked as a caddy for a golf club – perhaps as a way to help with personal loans. Eventually, the actor and his now-iconic deadpan comedy first rose to fame in the TV show Saturday Night Live. Today, the actor is often well-known for his role as Peter Venkman in the Ghostbusters films – he will also be reprising the role for the upcoming Ghostbusters: Afterlife movie.
“Life opens up opportunities to you, and you either take them or you stay afraid of taking them.”
In this day and age, it comes as no surprise that many filmgoers love Jim Carrey. Even in his childhood days, Carrey was already a natural entertainer. During his seventh grade, to help entertain his classmates, the actor’s teacher allowed him 15 minutes to perform in front of the class before ending the day. Although he may have been unaware at the time, this opportunity was the first investment Jim Carrey had for his comedic chops and stage presence. Today, the actor is often well-known for his role in films like the Ace Ventura movies, Dumb and Dumber and its sequel, The Truman Show, and, more recently, Sonic The Hedgehog.
“The reason there’s a question mark on my front door is just in case I forget my address.”
There was a time when the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker trio dominated comedy cinema. One actor the director-writer group often collaborated with for their films was the great Leslie Nielsen. With that said, the actor didn’t actually start his career as a comedian. Nielsen’s earlier acting credits were for serious roles in films like The Poseidon Adventure and Forbidden Planet. However, the ZAZ trio found comedy gold in the actor. Today, Leslie Nielsen is widely-known for his deadpan delivery in movies like The Naked Gun, Airplane, and Spy Hard – other actors can only dream of doing deadpan comedy as good as Nielsen did.
“You’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down.”
Of course, if one were to wonder who the most iconic figure in the world of comedy is, it would undoubtedly be Charlie Chaplin. In the silent film era of Hollywood, Chaplin managed to make audiences laugh without uttering a single word. Furthermore, besides his timeless acting performance, the actor was also quite the musician, though he didn’t have any prior training – he won an Oscar for the music in Limelight. However, among all his works on the silver screen, perhaps his most remarkable work would be in The Great Dictator – the first words the actor ever said onscreen still bear a high degree of relevance today.