To be an incredible comedic actor is already a gift—you have to have timing, precision, physicality, a certain lack of seriousness about yourself—so to achieve the upper echelons of "funniest actors in the business" is a special skill. This is especially true for the actors on this list who did not start life out as a comedian or comedy performer (like Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, and some of our other funny icons). The non-comedian funny actors who do it the best often make their sense of humor part of their overall persona: Basically, everyone on this list isn't just capable of bringing the funny on screen, but they're also known for making their interviewers laugh and just being generally quippy in person. Some of these, who are now "serious" dramatic actors, started life as comedy stars—which actually helps with their more buttoned-up characters, as you'll see—and some of them honestly could have been comedians if their paths hadn't taken them down the acting road.
Below, 32 of our funniest actors who aren't technically comedians.
While technically Chrissy Teigen more falls in the model and influencer category (give her Instagram a follow if you're unfamiliar), she's also lent her voice to comedies including Hotel Transylvania 3 and The Mitchells vs. The Machines, as well as a cameo in the Between Two Ferns film!
Jennifer Aniston made millions and millions of people laugh on Friends, and has continued to do it ever since—and fortunately, she's also continued to push herself beyond the "America's Sweetheart" roles of her youth. Just watch the Horrible Bosses movies...you'll see what I mean.
While his acting roles have skewed a bit more serious these days, his comedy roles (like teeny bit parts in the American Pie movies all the way up to a starring role in the Harold & Kumar films) set the stage for Cho to bring some sweetness in even the most dramatic of his roles.
Anna Kendrick is one of those lucky few who's just as funny in real life as she is on screen. You can point to the Pitch Perfect movies as one example of her impressive acting chops, but for my money she's always the funniest and most welcome presence in the (mostly not funny!) Twilight movies.
Queen Latifah's still, after all these years, an underrated comedy actor—think of the amazing work she did opposite Tiffany Haddish and Jada Pinkett-Smith in Girls Trip—but she's been the best part of a lot of movies for a long time, playing against greats like Steve Martin.
Part of Owen Wilson's disarming comedic charm is in his surfer-guy accent (listening to his trademark "Woooooow" is just so soothing), but never are his characters better than when he's actually secretly kind of smart—Zoolander, Wedding Crashers, and so on.
Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. has been vocal about how lucky he feels about his career resurgence after a turbulent first act, but frankly, his acerbic humor, wit, and delivery is better than just about anyone's. Iron Man was crafted basically off his personality, and it helped build an entire universe.
Never underrate Tom Hanks in an interview setting—his comic delivery and banter are unmatched—but his impressive dramatic career is built on some strong comedic foundations. My personal favorite, A League of Their Own, remains as relevant and funny as ever.
Living forever in history as Regina George, Rachel McAdams took the most iconic comedic role of all time and made a cool career out of it. She's now proven she can do all the comedy, from broad (Sherlock Holmes) to specific (Game Night) and even vintage (Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret).
Emma Stone rightfully gets attention as an impressive dramatic actor, but let us never forget about how she was the best part of Zombieland, La La Land, Birdman (I'm sensing a rhyming theme here), and even 2008's The House Bunny and the iconic Easy A (2010). Give her more comedies!!
Terry Crews has lived so many lives—from footballer to actor and TV host—and has been funny throughout all of them. The secret to his success is a winning combo of physical comedy (he's imposing at 6'2") and intense but sweet delivery—the biggest, most muscly teddy bear around.
Making the transition from pro wrestler to A-list actor is reserved to only a few people, but John Cena hasn't just done it—he's made a whole career out of playing goofballs with huge muscles (go back and watch Trainwreck, he's one of the best parts!!).
Tracee Ellis Ross
It would be cool enough to be Diana Ross' daughter and an awesome actor (playing the center of her family's universe in Black-ish, plus her breakout role in Girlfriends), but Tracee Ellis Ross also has stealthily made cameos in your favorite comedy shows (Broad City and Portlandia, I'm looking at you!).
America's Sweetheart in the '90s was just that popular in part because she had a sweet deadpan that worked well against her leading men (Keanu Reeves, Bill Pullman, basically anyone she was on screen with), including a characteristic snort-laugh that charmed the hearts of literally everyone. Thanks to 2022's The Lost City, that trademark charisma is back on screens.
If you're unfamiliar with the origins of "Bye Felicia," go watch Friday (1995) immediately for this important context. Thus begins a long career of Ice Cube being funny, from the Barbershop movies to him being the best part of the two Jump Street movies.
Neil Patrick Harris
Clearly, Harris has the comedic chops, as has been well-established in Doogie Houser, MD, and How I Met Your Mother. But before his latest resurgence as a comedic force, he was also playing around with his image and making hilarious cameos in the Harold & Kumar movies. He's got a self-deprecating sense of humor!
From the mind of the person who gave us Cocaine Bear, Elizabeth Banks is funny both as an actor and as a director (which is harder than it looks!). Whether it's the teeniest cameo (40 Year Old Virgin) or a full horror comedy (Slither) she brings all of the energy to her humor.
Whether some of Kurt Russell's line deliveries are intended to be funny or not is debatable (he was the over-the-top action star of the '80s), but Kurt Russell has done a good job playing with his classic persona and being in on the joke—see also Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
Emma Thompson's natural charm, charisma, and wit has always been evident in her work, but her evolution into playing over-the-top characters that include prosthetics and a completely broad performance (Nanny McPhee, Matilda) show off just how much her comedy is rooted in physical performance, too.
As much as she's (rightfully) famous for being Katniss in The Hunger Games, Lawrence is known for being incredibly comedic as an actual person. Not as many movies make use of this trait, but 2023's No Hard Feelings really gave her the stage to lean into comedy—and it paid off.
Joe Pesci's probably most known these days for his dramatic roles (see also: him winning an Oscar here for Goodfellas), but he has always understood his own appeal as an actor. Nothing will ever be as funny to me as him getting beaten up by a kid in Home Alone.
Famed character actor Steve Buscemi is as versatile as they come, but when he gets the chance to showcase drama and comedy in the same character (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and more recently The King of Staten Island) it's an explosion of chaotic good.
It's already incredible to be such an action star as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (after making the successful transition from pro wrestling, no less!!). But it's an extra layer to be so charming and funny, including in movies that not a lot of people saw—check out Central Intelligence (2016).
Olivia Colman's award speeches alone are the funniest thing you'll see today. And she's just naturally snarky in every interview. But she's been funny since Hot Fuzz (2007). And these days she's really leaned into her hilarity (The Favourite, The Lobster) to incredible effect.
Frankly, it's surprising that Jason Bateman never turned to standup comedy, because he's absolutely funny enough to do it. As amazing as he is in serious roles like Ozark, he will forever be the harangued straight man Michael Bluth from Arrested Development to me.
John C. Reilly
In my humble opinion, John C. Reilly doesn't get enough credit for being one of the most versatile actors of our generation. We're talking Step Brothers, we're talking Ricky Bobby, we're even talking Wreck-It Ralph. And we're especially talking Walk Hard.
If Ryan Gosling's turn as Ken in 2023's Barbie made you laugh, he's been doing his thing for a while—from The Big Short to La La Land. I would also argue that he tries to inject a little (necessary) humor into the OTT romance The Notebook, but that's just me.
Part of what makes Hugh Jackman so funny is that he's willing to be in on the joke—even if it's at his expense (see also: the back-and-forth between Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) and Jackman as Wolverine). He's also incredible and flirty in every single interview ever.
If social media's your thing, go follow Kate Beckinsale for her dry, British, often graphic humor. But if you're unfamiliar with how funny an actor she is—she still feels like an underrated presence, to me, even after her long career—put on Love and Friendship (2016) and prepare to be amazed.
Samuel L. Jackson
Obviously, Samuel L. Jackson has been funny for a long, long time. But major directors (Spike Lee and then later Quentin Tarantino especially) figured out that Jackson's special gift is to inject humor into serious roles—and vice versa—making him the most compelling person on screen.
Even though she can pivot to more serious acting roles, McCarthy was stealing the show way back in Gilmore Girls. And if you've never seen (perhaps her most funny underrated movie to date) Spy (2015), put it on immediately. The fact that she's just as quippy in real life is a huge bonus.
At some point, the entire movie-going world turned to each other and said, "Wow, Ryan Reynolds is funny, isn't he??" For many people it was The Proposal in 2009, but I was a fan way back in 2005 with Just Friends. Reynolds has been hilarious (in movies and IRL) way before we were even paying attention!
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Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.
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