One might assume that sitcom stars who are great actors would have no trouble finding work after their shows go off the air. Sadly, for a lot of sitcom stars, they become incredibly wrapped up with the character they played in the minds of the audience. If an actor has played a beloved sitcom wack-job for years, it can be hard for them to suddenly show up in a different show without giving the audience whiplash. For this reason, it's incredibly common for actors to take on a vastly different route after their sitcom success and head into the world of TV drama.
Actors who started in sitcoms generally have an easy time performing on other shows. As most actors and writers will readily admit, comedy is harder than drama. So, an actor who starred in a '90s sitcom will find they are already quite suited to star in some 2000s HBO prestige drama.
Bryan Cranston is one of the rare and incredibly talented actors who switched from a successful sitcom to a successful drama and ended up being better known for the drama. For seven seasons, Cranston played Hal Wilkerson, the patriarch of the Wilkerson family, on Malcolm in the Middle. In Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad, Cranston played a middle-class father. But, on Malcolm in the Middle, Cranston's character made it through life with his various eccentricities and a lot of laughs along the way. In Breaking Bad, Cranston's character, Walter White, is diagnosed with cancer and turns to making meth as a way to make a little extra cash. As Bryan Cranston recently said, he's "attracted to characters that are complex and flawed." Honestly, both Hal and Walt fit into that category.
In-between middle-class dad roles, Bryan Cranston performed as the father of darkness, Lucifer, in a TV miniseries called Fallen. While not a middle-class dad, Lucifer certainly fits into the complex and flawed category.Great at drama?
Katey Sagal made television history arguing alongside Al Bundy as Peggy Bundy on Married With Children. As Peggy, she was larger than life and quick with a joke, often at her husband's expense. After Married With Children's 11-season run, Sagal worked on other television projects and had a successful voice acting career, most prominently as Leela on Futurama.
Sagal eventually appeared on Sons of Anarchy, where she was something of the matriarch to the Hell's Angels-inspired biker group on the show.Great at drama?
Jason Bateman has been a steadily working actor since the '80s, but it wasn't until his breakout role as Michael Bluth in Arrested Development that he achieved what most would consider fame. Michael Bluth was the straight man of the show, so Jason Bateman's transition to more serious roles in the years following the show isn't actually all that surprising. That's not to say he went straight from a comedic role to a dramatic one, though, as Bateman has enjoyed a lot of success on the big screen as well.
When Bateman did return to television, it was on the very intense Netflix drama Ozark. The show followed Jason Bateman's character as he moved his family across the country to set up a money-laundering operation for a drug cartel. This role was much darker than anything Bateman had done previously, but as he told NPR, he always tried to bring some amount of darkness to his roles. According to Bateman, "in the characters that [he] play[s], even in comedies, [he'll] rarely be the wacky guy."Great at drama?
Fans who have known Donal Logue since his time on Grounded for Life have likely been shocked watching his career play out. On Grounded for Life, Logue played a young dad who had a baby while he was still 18, and even though the kids are older now, he and his wife were still relatively young and made a lot of comedic mistakes. From there, Logue has had a series of dramatic jobs, including roles on ER, Sons of Anarchy, and Gotham.
Donal Logue knows how dramatic his roles of late have gotten, remarking to Rolling Stone: "I was flying between Toronto and LA, the sets of Copper and Sons of Anarchy, thinking, ‘Which job is the one where I kill the prostitute? Wait, both of them?'"Great at drama?