Henry Cavill Is Hilarious In 'Man From U.N.C.L.E.', Joining These 9 Other Surprisingly Funny Drama Actors

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. boasts something that most of us have never seen before: a truly funny Henry Cavill. As an emotionally vexed Clark Kent in Man of Steel, Cavill spent most of the movie being completely stoic, fostering no discernible sense of humor whatsoever. As the star of Guy Ritchie's latest vehicle, however, Cavill is an alluring comic presence, playing well as both the purveyor, and the butt of many of the movie's jokes. Even if espionage films aren't your bag, you should watch Henry Cavill in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. for the comedy alone.

While drama is usually championed as the really "hard" work in the realm of acting, we really should be championing surprise comic performances like Cavill's as top-of-the-heap material. There's something especially gratifying about seeing a dramatic performer give way to his or her humorous instincts to yield a surprisingly funny film or television role.

In an effort to better praise Cavill and fellow dramatists-turned-comedians for the unspoken nobility in their crossing of these tracks, I've created a list of some great examples of the transition. So many Straight Men, action stars, and otherwise untapped talents are sitting on secret comic prowess. Here are a few of these actors who finally (and very thankfully) let their secrets out.

Rose Byrne

The revelation: Neighbors. Though a regular occupant of the comedy genre, Byrne had spent most of her time playing the straight woman or love interest in the likes of Bridesmaids and Get Him to the Greek. But some of the most enchanting bouts of mayhem to be found in Neighbors is owed to the talents of Byrne, who balances painful self-consciousness with tunnel vision lunacy in the way few artists can.

Chris Pine

The revelation: Into the Woods. Maybe it’s a bit unfair to say that the 2014 fairy tale musical was action star Pine’s first great display of big screen comedy. That said, rom-coms Just My Luck and This Means War didn’t quite hammer home the dreamboat actor’s proclivity for landing a gag. His shirt-ripping delivery of power ballad “Agony,” however, is the highlight of Into the Woods on the whole.

Tilda Swinton

The revelation: Burn After Reading. The otherworldly Swinton founded her career on an inimitable intensity. You can see this intensity take way in the likes of We Need to Talk About Kevin, but likewise comedically in the Coen Brothers' Burn After Reading and Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer. These days, she's just as likely to play a supporting nutbag in Trainwreck as she is to blow us away with her ethereal magic in Only Lovers Left Alive.

Daniel Radcliffe

The revelation: Saturday Night Live. Revered as a charmer from childhood on, Radcliffe was not quite understood for the comic giant that he is until his first gig hosting Saturday Night Live. The “Weekend Update” bit in which he portrays Casey Anthony’s dog is an especially memorable testament to both his will and knack for deadpan delivery.

Channing Tatum

The revelation: 21 Jump Street. Tatum entered what would become a tremendously successful comedy franchise with little more than the Step Up films on his acting résumé, prompting quite the surprise when he proved capable of carrying his own opposite comic veteran Jonah Hill. Tatum himself seemed to be just as shocked as anybody else by this turn of events, but now his abilities are common knowledge; he was almost, in fact, cast in Cavill's  Man from U.N.C.L.E. role.

Cate Blanchett

The revelation: Blue Jasmine. Part of what made Blanchett’s Oscar-winning turn in the late era Woody Allen picture so dazzling was its delicate balance of comedy and drama. Yes, the character is an ultimately tragic one, but Blanchett manages so much humor throughout as her portrayal of the crumbling socialite that we cannot help but to laud her performance as one of comic, as well as dramatic, genius.

Jason Statham

The revelation: Spy. It’s jarring to recall that Statham kicked off his career with two films that constitute principally as comedies: Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. In the decade and a half to span since the latter, Statham has kept pretty rigidly within the confines of the action genre, rarely allowing for a joke or a smile. That is, until 2015’s Spy, in which he embraces his cartoonish sensibilities and becomes the film’s funniest running gag.

Liam Neeson

The revelation: Life’s Too Short. Neeson's turn in Seth MacFarlane's A Million Ways to Die in the West might have been a sour undertaking, but his cameo appearance on Ricky Gervais' HBO series  Life's Too Short introduced a new, blackly comic side to the petrifying action star. He's no less scary as a comedian; he actually plays the terror up.

Anna Kendrick

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The revelation: Twitter. Yes, that’s kind of a cheap answer, but social media is no doubt the greatest display of Kendrick’s sharp wit. While she’s always been charming and charismatic onscreen, she first truly introduced her sense of humor as a sardonic Twitter user. Maybe it’s time Kendrick’s collaborating filmmakers begin better harnessing this proclivity for laughs outside of the Pitch Perfect franchise.

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