And what about Will Ferrell? Arguably the man with the goofiest presence in our Ron Burgundy quoting era is now tackling some dramatic fare. This calls for a MRQE Rewind! Let's see how some of the SNL greats have fared in their efforts to expand their appeal, and draw more than the easy laugh. Some say that comedy is more challenging for an actor than drama. But when you're this funny, the drama may be the real challenge.
Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls (2006) -- MRQE Metric: 75
Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop and The Golden Child (a personal favorite). Eddie Murphy was always cool, and lightning quick, but throughout the 90s and early 2000s, he digressed into fat suits and bland family comedies. Then came Dreamgirls, the Bill Condon directed musical that cast Murphy as a Motown era soul singer that finds himself cast to the wayside. Not unlike his comedic fall from grace. Life imitating art! It was an affecting performance that garnered Murphy an Academy Award nomination. A nice excursion for Murphy...then he made Norbit.
Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love (2002) -- MRQE Metric: 76
Grown Ups is certainly not on my Netflix queue). One of his biggest fans is Paul Thomas Anderson, who decided to cast Sandler in his first dramatic role in Punch-Drunk Love. Sandler delivers a surprising, and mesmerizing performance. He's a little crazy in this one, not unlike his zany comedy, but it works well in new light.
Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally... (1989) -- MRQE Metric: 84
Mike Myers in 54 (1998) -- MRQE Metric: 49
Shrek and the Austin Powers series and he hasn't really looked back. One is pressed to find a dramatic role in his latex and Cockney accent-filled career. However, if you were one of the few to see 54, you may have noticed Mike Myer's dramatic turn as famed club owner Steve Rubell. It's actually an impressive performance, for the simple fact that you forget it's Mike Myers. Sometimes, that's the best compliment.
Will Ferrell in Stranger Than Fiction (2006) -- MRQE Metric: 69
The Truman Show), there's an everyman quality to Ferrell that I think will make his newest outing interesting to watch.
Dan Aykroyd in Driving Miss Daisy (1989) -- MRQE Metric: 78
Ghostbusters, and being one "Wild and Crazy Guy," Aykroyd has amassed a very impressive film resume that includes over 90 films. It takes a little sifting but he too has a taste for the dramatic. In Driving Miss Daisy, he played Miss Daisy's son Boolie; and his performance earned him his only Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He followed that up with a bit part in Chaplin, but overall he remains a maestro of comedy. Look for him in Ghostbusters 3, which may arrive as early as next year.
Maya Rudolph in Away We Go (2009) -- MRQE Metric: 66
Christopher Guest in A Few Good Men (1992) -- MRQE Metric: 69
Spinal Tap to Waiting for Guffman, Guest basically formed a comedy universe around his talents. And of everyone on this list, Guest inhabits his characters the most fully, working in a very subtle comedic range that's fascinating to watch. If had to choose one dramatic role, it would be his performance as Dr. Stone in A Few Good Men. Guest takes the stand in one courtroom scene, going toe-to-toe with Tom Cruise, and delivers a cold, detached performance as a military doctor.
Bill Murray in Lost in Translation (2003) -- MRQE Metric: 84
Chris Rock in New Jack City (1991) -- MRQE Metric: 62