30 Funny Comedians Turned Actors

Eddie Izzard

The Comedian: Make-up-and-heels-wearing stand-up comedian who’s known for his rambling (but hilarious) stream-of-consciousness monologues and penchant for pantomime.

The Actor: Izzard graduated from the stage to films with The Secret Agent and The Cat’s Meow before going on to acclaim in Shadow Of The Vampire , Ocean’s Twelve and Valkyrie .

Dramatic Chops? He’s definitely got them, shrugging off his image as a comedian for some decent dramatic roles.

Stephen Fry

The Comedian: Super-intelligent funnyman, Fry was part of the Cambridge Footlights where he met Hugh Laurie and formed the Fry And Laurie double act.

The Actor: Fry’s a busy man – having just filmed Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows , he’s now jumping straight into The Hobbit as the Master of Laketown. Prior to that, he impressed with roles in Gosford Park and Wilde . Sadly, he was also in Spice World…

Dramatic Chops? Fry never fails to bring a distinctive nobility to his roles, not least when he put in a career-defining turn as Oscar Wilde – a part he was born to play.

Jamie Foxx

The Comedian: Both funny and canny, Eric Marlon Bishop changed his name to the gender-bending Jamie Foxx when he discovered that, on open mic nights, women generally perform first.

The Actor:
Foxx impressed as an everyman taxi driver up against Tom Cruise’s assassin in Collateral before going on to win an Oscar for his turn in Ray .

Dramatic Chops? Oh yes – as Ray Charles, he’s nothing short of a revelation.

Lee Evans

The Comedian: Affectionately known as ‘monkey boy’, Evans became famous in the ‘90s for his besuited, manic stage performances, which paired slapstick with keen observational humour.

The Actor: There have been highs and lows. Highs include a funny appearance in There’s Something About Mary , lows include the critically mauled Ladies Man .

Dramatic Chops? Evans had a go at a dramatic role with 2004 thriller Freeze Frame , which pretty much went straight into video shop bargain buckets. Shame, it was an edgy attempt.

Billy Crystal

The Comedian: An Oscar favourite (he’s hosted the ceremonies eight times, though they’ve never given him an award), Crystal was a regular at the Catch A Rising Star and The Improv comedy clubs.

The Actor: The early days saw Crystal team up with director Rob Reiner numerous times, with This Is Spinal Tap , The Princess Bride and When Harry Met Sally… Soon he’ll be providing the voice of Mike in Monsters University , and reportedly has a cameo in The Muppets.

Dramatic Chops? Like the best actors, Crystal can combine comedy and drama without even trying.

Alan Davies

The Comedian: Shaggy-haired mischief maker. Davies’ comedy career began with stand-up jobs at the Whitstable Labour Club in 1988, leading to Time Out declaring him Best Young Comic in 1991.

The Actor: Davies made the air waves with BBC’s Jonathan Creek murder mystery show, though prior to that he’d made an appearance in the brilliantly-titled Golden Ninja Invasion in 1987. Other notable appearances include Angus, Thongs And Perfect Snogging.

Dramatic Chops? Davies combined comedy with drama on Creek, and had fun playing the bumbling dad role in Angus .

Emma Thompson

The Comedian: Part of the Cambridge Footlight troupe of funnybone-ticklers, with members including Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry and Tony Slattery.

The Actor: Multiple-Oscar-winning actress/writer, who bagged a baldie for her fantastic turn in Howard’s End before grabbing another one for penning Sense And Sensibility.

Dramatic Chops? Not half - Thompson’s now considered a national treasure and was just about the best thing in fluff like Love Actually and The Boat That Rocked .

Larry David

The Comedian: Living in the Hell’s Kitchen area of Manhattan, David subsidised his stand-up career by working as a limousine driver, a clerk and a TV repairman.

The Actor: Success writing TV sitcom Seinfeld led to David appearing in his own successful show, Curb Your Enthusiasm . He most recently played the lead role in Woody Allen’s Whatever Works .

Dramatic Chops? David’s dry as the Sahara, so it’s mostly difficult to tell if he’s being dramatic and serious, or just intentionally funny...

Ed Helms

The Comedian: After studying improvisation with the Upright Citizens Brigade troupe, Helms worked with New York comedy bands as both a writer and performer, before finding fame on The Daily Show.

The Actor: Thanks to The Hangove r , Helms is on his way to becoming a coveted on-screen funny fellas. He’s also enlivened Cedar Rapids this year, and has made appearances in films like Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and Night At The Museum 2 .

Dramatic Chops? He’s stuck mostly to comedy, which is just how he likes it.

Billy Connolly

The Comedian: Scottish comedian with hair as wild as the Highlands. Loves making jokes about being drunk (and has a great selection of drunk walks).

The Actor: BAFTA-nominated for his turn in Mrs Brown , Connolly’s cropped up in numerous big screen events – some more successful than others. Those include Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events, Timeline, The Boondock Saints and The X-Files: I Want To Believe.

Dramatic Chops? If Mrs Brown showed anything, it’s that Connolly can hold his own against the greats (here, Judi Dench).

Josh Winning has worn a lot of hats over the years. Contributing Editor at Total Film, writer for SFX, and senior film writer at the Radio Times. Josh has also penned a novel about mysteries and monsters, is the co-host of a movie podcast, and has a library of pretty phenomenal stories from visiting some of the biggest TV and film sets in the world. He would also like you to know that he "lives for cat videos..." Don't we all, Josh. Don't we all.