There are quite a few stars who spend a lifetime rehearsing their comedy chops for a break in the movies, and when they do, they want to expand to other things like drama. Why? In some cases, it's what they always wanted to do, but took a left turn into comedy first. Other times, it's just a matter of wanting to do something different, or even possibly the knowledge that you're never going to win an Oscar in comedies. The success of these transitions varies. Many young folks can't even imagine Michael Keaton as a standup comedian, while older people were astonished they cast the funny guy as Batman back in 1989.
You have to be pretty big in the business to be offered an entirely different genre of work. It happened to Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Steve Carell, Robin Williams, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, and Will Ferrell. It may have taken many years after landing as an up-and-coming player on Saturday Night Live, and for some it worked out better than for others. Even when it works, some actors decide to go back to his roots. Read about the transition from comedy to drama and how it worked out for all seven of these stars at The A.V. Club.
(Graphic compiled by Allison Corr)