Dramatic Andy Samberg Is Weirding Everybody Out

It’s hard to picture Jake Peralta in a prestige drama
Dramatic Andy Samberg Is Weirding Everybody Out

Brooklyn Nine-Nine star and Nicolas Cage understudy Andy Samberg is obviously known for his many comedic performances, which may or may not have required him to shove his junk inside of a brightly decorated Christmas present. Well, now Samberg has a brand new movie coming out, Lee starring Kate Winslet, and it is definitely not a comedy. 

Lee tells the story of legendary photographer Lee Miller, who captured some of the most historically significant images of World War II while working as a photojournalist for Vogue. Her work famously included documentation of the atrocities committed by the Nazis at the Dachau concentration camp. 

Samberg plays Miller’s colleague, LIFE photojournalist David Scherman, whose photos once helped sink a German warship, and who memorably collaborated with Miller on the iconic picture of her taking a soak in Hitler’s private bathtub in Munich, just hours after returning from Dachau. 

Judging from the online response, a lot of people were pretty weirded out to see the star of Hot Rod and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping appearing in a harrowing wartime drama alongside an Oscar-winning actress. Samberg doesn’t even have any lines of dialogue in the trailer, which makes the whole thing feel even odder, as if it’s some kind of SNL sketch in which Samberg has been digitally inserted into a pre-existing movie. 

Some of us have just been trained to associate the presence of Samberg with hijinks and tomfoolery. 

That being said, there is obviously a long history of comedians becoming wonderful dramatic actors — from Robin Williams, to Whoopi Goldberg, to Samberg’s That’s My Boy co-star Adam Sandler. Not to mention Jim Carrey, who was willing to alienate everyone around him by constantly acting like an egomaniacal dick, purely in the pursuit of dramatic realism.  

While he’s claimed in interviews that he took the Lee gig specifically to work outside of his comedic “comfort zone,” Samberg has occasionally shown off some dramatic chops in movies such as Palm Springs, which gets pretty bleak at times.

And by all indications, Samberg is actually pretty terrific in Lee. The film screened at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, and critics repeatedly singled out Samberg as one of its highlights in their reviews. 

According to Layered Popcorn, the “biggest surprise of the film is Andy Samberg. This Samberg is eloquent, quiet and nuanced in his performance.” Meanwhile, Variety proclaimed that Samberg was “astutely cast” and “the most substantial of the supporting players.” And Film Stage noted that the role of Scherman was “played remarkably well by Andy Samberg.” Not bad for the former star of People Getting Punched Right Before Eating.

So, if this goes well, maybe Samberg will keep appearing in dramas. He’s previously professed a desire to make a movie like Uncut Gems. Or maybe he’ll do a gritty new take on “Dick in a Box” that ends with indecent exposure charges and a prison sentence. 

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this).


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