5 Comedic Actors Who Overcommitted to the Bit

5 Comedic Actors Who Overcommitted to the Bit

From Chris Farley to Melissa McCarthy to Sam Kinison, an entire category of comedians get their funny across in the loudest, most completely outrageous manner possible. But even among comedians, there’s full commitment and then there’s “jumping-off-the-top-rope, veins-bulging-from-the-neck” dedication to the bit. 

When is giving everything you got just a little too much? Here are five performances from comedic actors who don’t just go balls to the wall — they crash right through the bricks and keep on going. 

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Jim Carrey, ‘Man on the Moon’

It’s one iconic comedian playing another iconic comedian — or was it simply becoming one? As detailed in the documentary Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, Carrey’s commitment to embodying Andy Kaufman nearly cost him his sanity. Because Carrey was Kaufman, he didn’t pay much heed to the process of actually making the film. “You have to give me a chance to make a movie!” shouted director Milos Foreman, who appreciated Carrey’s dedication but not his discipline. It took 20 years for the movie studio to release the behind-the-scenes footage. Why’s that? “Universal decided at that time that they didn’t want me to allow any of that to surface so that people wouldn’t think I was an asshole.”

Nicolas Cage, ‘Vampire’s Kiss’

The horror-comedy came to define the over-the-top Nicolas Cage we talk about when we raise our eyebrows and whisper Nicolas Cage. “I always saw the movie as a story of a man whose loneliness and inability to find love literally drives him insane,” Cage says in the film’s DVD commentary — and we believe Cage might just be going off the deep end himself. “I was getting a lot of outside pressure from my agent and people representing me that this was not a good move after Moonstruck, to make a movie of this nature with the vampire fangs and going off like that,” Cage explains in that commentary. “I responded to the pressure, and I broke.”

Chris Tucker, ‘The Fifth Element’

The Fifth Element isn’t a full-blown comedy, but Chris Tucker seems intent on making it one. His role as talk-show host Ruby Rhod was originally written for Prince, but there’s no way His Royal Badness could have taken it to the weird places Tucker goes. Depending on your point-of-view, his performance either makes the movie or completely ruins it.

George C. Scott, ‘Dr. Strangelove’

Dramatic actor George C. Scott found another gear in Kubrick’s black comedy, spitting out more bug-eyed hysterics than Rodney Dangerfield on a bender. Scott originally wanted to play the role with more gravitas, but Kubrick asked Scott to humor him and play things in an overly broad, comic manner for “rehearsals” that wouldn’t make the final cut. (Kubrick broke his promise and used the exaggerated versions in the final cut.)

Tom Cruise, ‘Tropic Thunder’

When Cruise agreed to take the role of bombastic movie producer Les Grossman, he had only two stipulations, he told Conan O’Brien in 2019. One, he wanted “fat hands” and two, he wanted to dance. While audiences found Cruise funny, The New York Times had some issues with an overly zealous performance that it found to be “heavily and heavy-handedly coded as Jewish. The character is murderous, repellent and fascinating, a grotesque from his swollen fingers to the heavy gold dollar sign nestled on his yeti-furred chest.” 

The only performance that beats this one featured Cruise jumping on Oprah's couch.  

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