Why so serious, gentlemen? Well, because it's often inevitable for Hollywood's best comedic actors to take on solemn roles as a reminder to audiences (and themselves) that they can rise above the chuckles. It's a hit-and-miss affair, but one that often gives way to standout performances on these actors' otherwise uproarious résumés. So far, the buzz is high for Ben Stiller's next attempt to stretch his serious legs, this time with the Oscar-friendly Christmas release "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."

For better or worse, here are 16 actors who've broken out of the comedic mold and exercised their dramatic chops.

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  • Ben Stiller

    "Black and White" (1999) "Keeping the Faith" (2000) "Greenberg" (2010) "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (2013)

  • Bill Murray

    "The Razor's Edge" (1984) "Wild Things" (1998) "Hamlet" (2000) "Lost in Translation" (2003) "Hyde Park on Hudson" (2012)

  • Will Ferrell

    "Stranger Than Fiction" (2006) "Everything Must Go" (2010)

  • Adam Sandler

    "Punch Drunk Love" (2002) "Spanglish" (2004) "Reign Over Me" (2007)

  • Danny DeVito

    "Hoffa" (1992) "L.A. Confidential" (1997) "The Rainmaker" (1997) "The Virgin Suicides" (1999) "Heist" (2001) "Big Fish" (2003)

  • Robin Williams

    "Dead Poets Society" (1989) "Awakenings" (1990) "Hamlet" (1996) "Good Will Hunting" (1997) "What Dreams May Come" (1998) "Insomnia" (2002) "One Hour Photo" (2002) "August Rush" (2007)

  • Jim Carrey

    "The Truman Show" (1998) "The Majestic" (2001) "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004) "The Number 23" (2007)

  • Christopher Guest

    "The Long Riders" (1980) "A Few Good Men" (1992)

  • Seth Rogen

    "Donnie Darko" (2001) "Take This Waltz" (2011)

  • Jack Black

    "Enemy of the State" (1998) "Cradle Will Rock" (1999) "Jesus' Son" (1999) "King Kong" (2005) "Margot at the Wedding" (2007)

  • Eddie Murphy

    "Dreamgirls" (2006)

  • John Goodman

    "The Big Easy" (1987) "Sea of Love" (1989) "Stella" (1990) "The Runner" (1999) "Bringing Out the Dead" (1999) "Red State" (2011) "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" (2012) "Argo" (2012)

  • Sacha Baron Cohen

    "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (2007) "Les Misérables" (2012)

  • Vince Vaughn

    "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" (1997) "Psycho" (1998) "The Cell" (2000) "Domestic Disturbance" (2001) "Into the Wild" (2007)

  • Jonah Hill

    "Moneyball" (2011) "Django Unchained" (2012)

  • Russell Brand

    "The Tempest" (2010)

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