The Most Overqualified Love Interest Performances In Dumb Comedies

List Rules
Vote up the actors whose performances exceed what you expect from a thankless role.

Some actors never phone it in. It can be the most thankless role in the worst movie ever made and it just doesn't matter. You want the A-game? You're gonna get the A-game. And for as long as Hollywood has been making movies, a bunch of talented actors have ended up being wasted in the unenviable role of "love interest" in dumb comedies. That's kind of just the way it goes. 

Think about Patricia Arquette being in Little Nicky or Amy Adams showing up in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Remember that Brie Larson, years before Room and Captain Marvel, was Jonah Hill's romantic interest in 21 Jump Street? And honestly, what the absolute heck was Natalie freaking Portman doing in Your Highness? These are some of the most overqualified actors to take on love interest roles in stupid comedy flicks.


  • Your Highness is not a good movie. It wasn't funny in 2011 and it certainly hasn't gotten any funnier with time. It lost a ton of money at the box office and earned poor reviews from audiences and critics alike. Would you like to know why the medium-budget stoner comedy has gone by the wayside in Hollywood? Take a good, long look at Your Highness and it's easy to see why.

    Confoundingly, Natalie Portman is in this fantasy farce. Yes, a year after winning the Academy Award for best actress, Portman stars as Isabel, a chastity-belt-wearing warrior who falls in love with Danny McBride. Doesn't it sound just a little bit beneath an actor with three Academy Award nominations to her name? Hey, she's earned the right to pick whatever projects she wants. It's just weird, that's all.

    43 votes
  • The R-rated Hollywood comedy was dead in the water for a few years there. Then, in 2005, Wedding Crashers and The 40-Year-Old Virgin reminded Tinseltown that adult audiences would pay to see comedies deemed too raunchy for high schoolers if, you know, the movies were good. And boy, does Wedding Crashers have a talented cast to boot. Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Christopher Walken, Isla Fisher, Bradley Cooper, Jane Seymour, and Will Ferrell all bring their A-game for this one.

    But the most talented actor given the least to do has to be Rachel McAdams. Even the then mostly unknown Cooper gets to vamp as the grimy villain. Wedding Crashers came just a year after 2004, which served as McAdams's coming out in America thanks to Mean Girls and The Notebook. Her career would only skyrocket from there. McAdams's diverse talent has been showcased in everything from Spotlight and True Detective to Game Night and About Time.

    50 votes
  • Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby came out in that weird period of Will Ferrell's career where almost everything he was in happened to be a sports movie of some kind. From 2005 to 2008, Ferrell headlined Talladega NightsKicking and ScreamingBlades of Glory, and Semi-Pro. That is almost as wild as there being a Daddy's Home 2... almost.

    Of course, the craziest thing about Talladega Nights in a vacuum is that Amy Adams - yeah, that Amy Adams - shows up in the extremely minor role of Ricky's eventual love interest, Susan. She's not even the primary love interest! This was right before EnchantedCharlie Wilson's War, Doubt, and Julie & Julia would change the trajectory of her career, but it's still wild to see a six-time Academy Award nominee play such a small, forgettable role in a Will Ferrell comedy.

    48 votes
  • Remember when Adam Sandler could seemingly do no wrong? And we're not talking about his weird, infallible ability to put out astonishing dramatic work every couple of years (Punch-Drunk Love and Uncut Gems, anyone?). For about a 10-year period, Sandler's comedies were basically nothing but hits at the box office. Nowadays, it's mostly Netflix movies for the former SNL man. In the middle of his Hollywood dominance, he starred in an odd semi-remake of 1936 classic Mr. Deeds Goes to Town called, well, Mr. Deeds.

    Sandler's romantic interest in Mr. Deeds? That would be former teen star Winona Ryder, who finished filming the comedy before an infamous arrest for shoplifting put her career on hold for a few years. That career is firmly back on track today, thanks to projects like Stranger ThingsBlack Swan, and The Plot Against America. But it's easy to forget how big a star she was during the first phase of her career. BeetlejuiceHeathersEdward ScissorhandsBram Stoker's Dracula? The Age of InnocenceReality Bites? Girl, Interrupted? These are some of the defining movies of their respective eras.

    41 votes
  • 2000's Little Nicky is not among Adam Sandler's most beloved comedies. It's more along the lines of an Eight Crazy Nights than a Happy Gilmore or Big Daddy. Despite having a huge budget, great cast, and interesting concept, Little Nicky merely forgot one thing: it's supposed to be funny. The film ended up being little more than a blip for Sandler and the rest of the acting talent (names like Harvey Keitel, Rhys Ifans, and Reese Witherspoon) merely moved on to the next project.

    Perhaps the weirdest name to pop up in Little Nicky, though, is Patricia Arquette. The Academy Award and Emmy Award-winning actor spent the 1990s starring in projects like True RomanceEd WoodFlirting with DisasterBringing out the Dead, and Lost Highway. Does Little Nicky sound like it belongs in the same filmography as those films? The former queen of independent cinema is now best known as a television star on the back of MediumThe Act, and Severance

    32 votes
  • Like the vast majority of Judd Apatow's work, The 40-Year-Old Virgin is marked by two seemingly conflicting ideologies: the director's need to fill the movie's runtime with juvenile jokes and his ability to wring some surprisingly emotional moments out of straightforward comedies. Apatow's capacity to pull off this highwire act on a consistent basis depends on casting actors with both dramatic and comedic chops. Think of people like Paul Rudd, Bill Hader, and Marisa Tomei.

    The most overqualified actor in Apatow's oeuvre has to be Catherine Keener in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, though. The same year the Steve Carell comedy came out, Keener earned her second Academy Award nomination for appearing in Capote. Her filmography is filled with movies like Being John MalkovichInto the Wild, Get Out, Captain Phillips, and Synecdoche, New York. She's also in this movie where the guy from The Office yells "Kelly Clarkson" while getting his chest waxed. 

    36 votes