5 Comedy Couples We Forgot Starred In Movies Together
Is there anything more romantic than two people in love making a movie together? Ok, besides having your fingers intertwine in a bag of pizza Combos? Between the endless production meetings, the ever-shrinking budget, the grueling 16-hour days on set, and the constant, nagging fear that the studio will shut down the project at any moment for any reason, we can’t figure out why any newlywed couple would ever choose to spend their honeymoon in the Bahamas or on the French Riviera instead of making a Hollywood film together.
Making a marriage work is hard enough in a vacuum, but when you add in the tensions of working together, it becomes even more daunting. Throw that on top of a career as stressful as filmmaking, and it’s a miracle that these lovebirds made it work – if only temporarily, in some cases. The husband and wife comedy team is a classic set up, but in the context of film it takes on an entirely new air, and we’re here to celebrate that on-screen and real life chemistry in all its forms. Here are five comedy couples and the films in which we saw them together:
Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brad Hall – Troll (1986)
It’s hard to imagine JLD attached to a project that stunk this much. The comedian who was not yet Elaine Benes starred in this horror-comedy calamity led by Noah Hathaway (Atreyu in The NeverEnding Story) alongside her then-boyfriend Brad Hall.
Julia and Brad met while they were students at Northwestern University. Brad ran a comedy troupe called The Practical Theatre Company, a politically and environmentally minded band of satirists which Julia joined in her freshman year. After Brad graduated, he continued to lead the group to success in the Chicago-area theatre world, which culminated in a 1982 show called “The Golden 50th Anniversary Jubilee.”
This show would alter the course of comedy forever when it caught the eye of Saturday Night Live producers Dick Ebersol and Bob Tischler, who would pluck a handful of young starry-eyed comedians from the revue and put them on the biggest stage in comedy. Unsurprisingly, Julia and Brad were among the chosen.
Brad would eventually leave SNL in 1984 followed by Julia the next year, and, in their first foray into film, they both joined the cast of Troll. There’s frankly not much to be said about this bizarre movie, which follows an idyllic American family who is beset by a group of malevolent, mischievous trolls wielding magical powers. This film was undoubtedly responsible for countless nightmares in the 80’s, most of which were probably due to the now incredibly dated practical effects.
It did, however, loosely inspire the creation of Troll 2, a completely unaffiliated trainwreck of a film that is one of the greatest so-bad-it’s-good movies of all time.
Amy Poehler and Will Arnett – Blades of Glory (2007)
Talk about chemistry! In one of the more underappreciated Will Ferrell movies of the 2000’s, Amy Poehler and her then-husband Will Arnett starred as the Van Waldenberg twins, the skating team arch-rivals of the film’s lead characters.
Amy and Will met in 1996 after Will saw Amy perform in the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, which was then just a comedy troupe of which Amy was a founding member. The two hit it off and stuck together through the 1990’s and early 2000’s as they both began to find success in TV and film.
The couple married in 2003, and in 2005 they were named “New Yorkers of the Year” during the annual New York Magazine Culture Awards for their contributions in television. The two appeared in four episodes of Arrested Development together and the independent film On Broadway before joining forces for Blades of Glory, undoubtedly the greatest of their collaborations.
Amy and WIll played the perfect conniving couple of Jamie and Cersei-style siblings in Blades of Glory as they conspired to destroy our heroes by manipulating their younger, lesser sister (played by Jenna Fischer) into driving a wedge between Ferrell and his co-star Jon Heder.
The duo sparkled on-screen and played exceedingly well off of each other’s strengths, but the offscreen romance would not last forever – Amy and Will divorced in 2016.
Dax Shepherd and Kristen Bell – Hit and Run (2012)
Is there anyone in Hollywood with a more understatedly amazing run than Dax Shepard? Since his big break with Punk’d in 2003, he’s written, directed, and acted in dozens of beloved comedy movies and TV shows, he has his own podcast, and – oh yeah – he’s married to Kristen Freaking Bell.
The power couple met at a dinner party in 2007 when, in Kristen’s words, she felt “no sparks whatsoever.” Clearly her tune changed with time, since the two started dating just a couple weeks later after a run-in at a Detroit Red Wings game – both Dax and Kristen are natives of Detroit’s northern suburbs. They announced their engagement in 2010 but chose to delay the wedding until gay marriage was legal in California.
Their first on-screen appearance together was in 2010 with a wholly forgettable rom-com called When in Rome, in which Kristen played the lead and Dax filled a supporting role. It wasn’t until 2012’s Hit and Run that we got to see the full power of the couple’s on-screen chemistry.
Hit and Run was an action-comedy film written and directed by Dax starring himself as Charlie, a man living in the Witness Protection Program, who is in love with his girlfriend Annie (played by Bell, obviously), a college professor with a PhD. Predictably, Charlie’s cover is blown, and the two must escape their pursuers as Charlie comes to terms with his past.
This wouldn’t be the last time the two appeared as a couple in a movie written and directed by Dax – Kristen Bell would again play Shepard’s better half in his 2017 film CHiPs, a well-intentioned but poorly executed homage to the late 70’s/early 80’s TV show of the same name.
Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman - Matilda (1996)
Seriously, how good was Matilda? The film adaptation of the beloved Roald Dahl novel holds up spectacularly well, despite its initially lukewarm reception at the box office. Danny DeVito and his wife of 41 years, Rhea Perlman, played Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood, Matilda’s monstrous parents and the primary antagonists of the film – alongside the treacherous Miss Trunchbull.
Danny and Rhea met in 1971 when Rhea saw her future husband in a production of The Shrinking Bride. The two met after the show, and just two weeks later, they moved in together in a whirlwind romance that’s lasted over half a century. Despite their quick start at domestication, Danny and Rhea wouldn’t marry until 1982.
Both Danny and Rhea had successful TV careers throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s playing similar characters – the duo’s diminutive statures and acid tongues led them smashing success in comedy, with DeVito’s run on Taxi and Perlman’s part on Cheers making both actors household names. They even co-hosted SNL together in 1982, the same year they finally tied the knot.
Matilda was hardly their first film collaboration – DeVito wrote, directed, and starred in The Ratings Game in 1984 and cast his wife Rhea as, well, his wife – but Matilda (also directed by DeVito) would end up being their most memorable. The film has reached cult status in the years since its initial run, in no small part because of the delightfully devilish performances from Danny and Rhea.
Despite their on-screen nastiness, Danny and Rhea showed their immense humanity towards child star Mara Wilson during filming. Mara’s mother was being treated for breast cancer, and with the eight year-old separated from her family, Danny and Rhea served as surrogate guardians for the young star, protecting her from the stresses of a Hollywood set and letting her stay at their apartment when her father was busy working or taking care of her mother. Mara’s mother tragically passed away four months before the film was released, but not before Danny visited her in the hospital to show her a rough cut of her daughter’s film.
Melissa McCarthy & Ben Falcone - Bridesmaids (2011)
The final entry on this list is also my favorite film of the lot – Bridesmaids was one of many great Melissa McCarthy films to feature a cameo from her husband Ben Falcone, and it’s by far the funniest. McCarthy was the standout in a stacked cast that included the likes of Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig, the latter of whom was also the film’s screenwriter.
Melissa and Ben briefly crossed paths sometime around 1990 when Melissa was a student at SIU Carbondale in the same town where Ben grew up. Ben was just a high schooler at the time, and they wouldn’t reunite until 1998 when the pair found themselves in the same comedy class at The Groundlings in Los Angeles. The couple performed together at the storied theater for years, and eventually tied the knot in 2005 while McCarthy was a regular on Gilmore Girls.
Their scenes together in Bridesmaids are some of the highlights in a film chock full of highlights. Ben’s brief appearances as “Air Marshall Jon” showcase the chemistry he and Melissa had built up over years of collaboration and connection, and the film ends with the couple properly united on-screen.
Ben has made cameo appearances in Identity Thief, The Heat, Spy, and Can You Ever Forgive Me?, all of which starred Melissa. Ben also wrote and directed the 2014 film Tammy, starring Kate McKinnon – just kidding, of course it starred Melissa. Ben has also served as producer on numerous projects of Melissa’s, and the team shows no sign of slowing down.
Hats off to funny love.
Top Image: Apatow Productions / DreamWorks Pictures
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