Follow TV Tropes

This entry is trivia, which is cool and all, but not a trope. On a work, it goes on the Trivia tab.


Funny Character, Boring Actor

Go To

Interviewer: Are you hilarious offscreen?
Rowan Atkinson: Definitely not, as this interview is probably proving.

Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The comedy counterpart of Mean Character, Nice Actor.

Some people have a great talent for comedy and are absolutely hilarious onscreen. Thanks to this effect, it's understandable if everyone expected them to be hilarious all the time. Not the case. Comedy is difficult to do well, and often takes a lot of planning and writing. These comedians are some of the greatest in the field, but they were/are very serious or dry in real life.

To their friends and family who knew them before they became famous there's a hint of Beware the Quiet Ones.

    open/close all folders 

    Straight Examples 
  • Parodied in a skit on John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, when an interviewer is astonished to find that the "funniest man in Britain" can open the door and offer him a cup of tea without saying or doing anything remotely funny, and eventually diagnoses the man with depression. As soon as the comedian makes a (very mild) joke, the interviewer instantly shifts into reverse, concluding that the real tragedy is "he can't turn it off".
  • The Simpsons: In "A Midsummer's Nice Dream", Cheech & Chong briefly separate, which leads to Homer becoming Cheech's new partner. While Homer is initally excited to work with him, he becomes disappointed when he sees that Cheech is more down to earth, cultured and mellow compared to his on-stage persona.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: On stage, Snail Fail is Sir Urchin's Bumbling Sidekick who always bashes him with blunt objects as part of their slapstick routine. In "Sir Urchin and Snail Fail", right in the middle of their performance, Snail Fail is revealed to be a dramatic actor who wants their act to be more serious.

Real Life

  • Jensen Ackles is best known for playing the Troubled, but Cute Boisterous Bruiser Dean Winchester on Supernatural and had a tendency even before Dean to get typecast as badasses with daddy issues. He also usually takes the lead in public appearances with his costars- who are friends of his in real life -by mutual agreement, but accounts of him when he's not with friends describe him as somewhat quiet and on the shy side. He's admitted in interviews later in the show's run, after more than a decade spent as Dean, that he's caught himself thinking "what would Dean do here", or otherwise drawing on the character to be a little more outgoing himself.
  • Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Known to be a very shy, sensitive man, prone to episodes of depression. Said in interview: "I'm not a wit. I'm a comedy writer. A wit says something funny on the spot. A comedy writer says something very funny two minutes later. Or in my case, two weeks later." However, he wasn't completely averse to joking in conversation and was known to laugh at his own jokes in a way that was endearing rather than annoying.
  • Woody Allen is apparently unable to tell jokes in Real Life. He cheerfully admits to being a bland, rather mousy person, and many of his colleagues confirmed that. For further, proof see Wild Man Blues, the documentary chronicling his tour as a clarinetist. He isn't "cute" neurotic like in his movies, either; he's really that messed up.
  • Dean Ambrose has fallen into a quippy, comic relief role on WWE programming ever since The Shield broke up, but in interviews, he's flat and reserved since he doesn't like to talk about his Dark and Troubled Past. Steve Austin found this out the hard way during their WWE Network interview
  • Eric André, in stark contrast with the ridiculously surreal, over-the-top, and deranged persona he frequently exhibits on his very own show, is in real life more soft-spoken and reserved, even half-jokingly describing himself in an interview as "depressive and anxious".
  • Bea Arthur, as described by her colleagues, was "shy, reserved and retiring"... something that you don't often see when she plays the title character in Maude or Dorothy Zbornak on The Golden Girls.
  • Rowan Atkinson, famous for his role as Mr. Bean, among other things, is a maddening perfectionist who finds it extremely difficult to be witty spontaneously; as a result, interviews are pretty dull.
  • Dan Aykroyd, the wild-and-crazy Blues Brother among many other outrageously funny characters, in real life claims to have mild autism spectrum disorder. When he's not playing a role he's introverted, quiet, and thoughtful, and when asked to talk about himself can have trouble meeting the interviewer's eye.
  • Andrew Bachelor, otherwise known on TikTok, YouTube and (formerly) Vine as KingBach, is described in interviews as being calm and reserved as opposed to the cartoonish thug stereotype that shows up in his videos.
  • Eion Bailey usually plays suave Deadpan Snarker characters. In interviews, he's far less of a wisecracker than the characters he plays.
  • Lucille Ball, perhaps one of the greatest screwball comediennes of all time, was this behind the scenes. She didn't believe in her ability to improvise, so every gag and physical comedy that she did on I Love Lucy was rehearsed to death till she believed she had it perfected, including practicing blowing up and popping a balloon until "it looked funny". (Dousing her burning fake nose in her glass while it was still attached was one of the very few times she improvised and kept it on film.) Desi Arnaz, on the other hand, was quite funny in real life. In fact, Bette Davis went to the same drama school as Lucille and recalled her being sent home for being too shy and quiet.
  • Julian Barrett of The Mighty Boosh is extremely nervous in interviews, and very quiet indeed when separated from Noel Fielding. Although, in an interview, Noel says Julian is actually really funny, but just doesn't realize it.
  • Roy "Chubby" Brown, in contrast to his blue material, is said to be a humble, down-to-earth man who always makes time for his fans and doesn't swear any near as much as his onstage persona.
  • Onstage, the late George Carlin was animated, boisterous, hilarious, and relentlessly misanthropic. In his interviews, however, he was fairly quiet, and while he retained his famously filthy mouth, cracked relatively few jokes. He also claimed that he actually hated people a lot less than his stand-up would have you believe.
  • Carmella in the ring is either a hammy Alpha Bitch or a fiery Plucky Girl. Leah Van Dale the person is incredibly quiet and reserved. She recalls this counting against her in her initial WWE tryout; she was so focused on getting the moves right, they asked her to show more personality. She then compensated by hamming it up and found her niche playing over-the-top characters.
  • Jim Carrey is very well known for his over-the-top comedy roles as Ace Ventura, The Mask, Lloyd Christmas, The Grinch and, in a bit of Ham and Cheese, the Riddler. In reality, he has battled depression and has stated that his character in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is closer to the real him than any of his other roles. The 2017 documentary Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond has him go into more detail: The "free from concern" onstage/screen persona he developed at the turn of the 1990s to please audiences became something he had a hard time dropping in public appearances when he suddenly ascended to the A-list. Over the course of the Man on the Moon shoot, a key reason he stayed in character as Andy Kaufman (or his various personae; see below) whether the cameras were rolling or not, only dropping it when he was offset, was because he relished the chance to not care about what people thought of him. In the aftermath, Carrey reconstructed what he felt and wanted out of life, and while he can still be a cut-up in public appearances, he's just as often thoughtful and philosophical.
  • Johnny Carson, who for many defined outrageous, outspoken late-night comedy as the iconic host of The Tonight Show and who could effortlessly banter with anyone from A-list celebs to eccentric old ladies who collected potato chips, was a well-known quiet introvert in private who had an extremely small circle of friends and rarely ever gave an interview.
  • John Cena is clownish and animated in the ring, whether he's Pretty Fly for a White Guy or an All-American Face. In interviews he's very soft-spoken and Total Divas shows he's usually The Quiet One. It's doubly ironic since he claims his in-ring persona is just him being himself. His girlfriend Nikki Bella is the opposite - she plays an Alpha Bitch in the ring and in real life is far goofier and more playful.
  • Graham Chapman played highly-animated characters in front of the camera and on stage but he could be extremely reserved and shy when not performing and rarely spoke (but was hilarious the few times he did).
  • Stephen Chow Sing-Chi is an influential Hong Kong comedian, actor, and film director, best known in the west for his slapstick martial arts movies Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle. When not making a film, though, he is reported to be a taciturn and serious individual who rarely if ever smiles.
  • Andrew "Dice" Clay's stage persona is incredibly loud, boisterous and energetic. His real life personality however is much more shy, introverted and modest.
  • Steve Coogan, who played the awkwardly funny Alan Partridge comes across as moody and introverted in interviews, and doesn't seem to enjoy them a great deal.
  • "Yahtzee" Croshaw in his Zero Punctuation videos, is a snarky, caustic Comedic Sociopath. In real life, he's a quiet, awkward man who asks that his fans not interact with him if they see him, and flat-out said that he's not good with people due to his social anxiety.
  • Rodney Dangerfield's wife was always a little annoyed that people assumed her husband was a wacky, boorish slob all the time. In person, he was a normal, well-mannered gentleman.
  • Robert De Niro is an incredibly talented and charismatic actor and can have some of the most devastating comic timing in the room, but in interviews, he reverts way back into his shell, and is a quiet mumbler in real life. Roger Ebert said that the most interesting thing De Niro's ever told him in an interview was "Yeah? yeah."
  • Johnny Depp, despite playing a number of flamboyant comic characters (Captain Jack Sparrow, Willy Wonka, Rochester from The Libertine), comes off in interviews more like Edward Scissorhands; a bit shy and on the quiet side.
  • Christopher Eccleston can definitely be silly and eccentric when he's acting, but he's rather calm and flat while being interviewed. And that's on his good days when he doesn't seem to be suppressing his urge to flip a table and leave. John Barrowman says he takes acting very seriously - even when playing a flippant time traveler. Justified as Christopher Eccleston is mostly known for dramatic roles but took on a role where some comic timing is part of the character. He's also quite introverted and private - it can be difficult to draw him out, but when he met a young autistic filmmaker who was inspired by Eccleston's role in Doctor Who, he was moved to tears.
  • Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding, aka Bob & Ray, were renowned for their ability to improvise subversive, cutting-edge comedy skits — so much so that interviewers wrote entire articles around how underwhelmed they were to meet the same shy, very conventional men in real life. "By the time we realised we were introverts," Bob is supposed to have once claimed, "it was too late to do anything about it."
    • Their mutual friend Andy Rooney put a slightly different spin on this, in the foreword to a book collection of some of their best-known routines:
      "Bob and Ray have three distinct personalities. There's Bob's, there's Ray's and there’s Bob and Ray's. Both Bob and Ray are interesting to meet separately because two duller people you never talked to. Every Sunday morning I meet funnier people down at the news store when I go out to get the paper. If you run into Bob and Ray together, it’s a different matter. Over a year's time they must give away a million dollars worth of comedy material free to people they meet on the street."
  • Chris Farley was mostly known for playing Large Hams with No Indoor Voice, but was actually a shy, soft-spoken Nice Guy who rarely missed Mass. The awkward, mumbling nervous wreck in "The Chris Farley Show" sketches on Saturday Night Live? That was how he really was.
  • Will Ferrell tends to do interviews and promos as the character in his most recent movie because when being interviewed as himself, he is shy and reserved.
  • Harrison Ford is known for charismatic quip-a-minute characters like Han Solo and Indiana Jones, but in real life is famous for being a very reserved, thoughtful man who needs a good interviewer asking the right questions to make his interviews interesting. Even then he has a very dry, understated sense of humour.
  • Johnny Galecki admits to being an introvert who loves being on stage as a character but is uncomfortable appearing as himself. He often comes across as nervous in interviews, reportedly vomited from stage fright before performing with his friends in a band, and can be very withdrawn when approached by fans in public.
  • Gilbert Gottfried was known for his loud, grating voice and his foul-mouthed, vulgar sense of humor as a stand-up comedian and in some of his film and TV roles. Apparently his off-stage and off-screen personality was exactly the opposite of his public persona - many described him as quiet and rather introverted.
  • Eva Green often plays dark and charismatic nutcases - who are often sexually charged. Out of character, she says people would be surprised at how quiet and shy she actually is. She describes herself as a boring, private person - and the dark, sexual roles are a form of catharsis for her.
  • Christopher Guest has said that many people are disappointed when they find out that he's not non-stop hilarious in real life. According to Cary Elwes and Robin Wright, he also doubles as a Mean Character, Nice Actor. He's actually known for coming across as fairly prickly in interviews, though often because he strongly dislikes questions about his personal life.
  • Tony Hancock could be hilarious on stage, TV, and radio, but was notoriously shy and introspective in real life, as witness his rather nervous replies to his Face to Face interview. This introspection was a major factor in his eventual suicide.
  • Mitch Hedberg was known for his quick-witted, non-sequitur brand of comedy that audiences loved. In real life, he was rather painfully shy and suffered from stage fright, which also explains why he wore sunglasses while on stage and his hair in his face.
  • Benny Hill was synonymous with zany, madcap comedy. In Real Life, he was reportedly a private, quiet, reserved man who kept to himself. Michael Caine recalled that while making The Italian Job (1969), Hill got on well with everyone, but didn't socialise.
  • Jerome "Curly" Howard of The Three Stooges fame was a plucky, chatterbox, bumbling clown who excelled at madcap physical comedy on camera. In real life, he suffered from crippling shyness and barely spoke to anyone he didn't know.
  • Danny John-Jules is best known as the sharp-dressed, loud and borderline insane Cat from Red Dwarf, but in interviews, is notably calm and barely raises his voice.
  • Andy Kaufman zig-zagged this trope; while he was by many accounts shy and gentle when he wasn't assuming a persona, he was so fond of playacting whether or not there was a camera filming him that a lot of people who worked with and/or knew him couldn't be sure that shy, gentle nature wasn't deliberately affected to put them off. One of his personas, "British Man", was a parody of this trope: This stuffy fellow claimed to not only be Andy's real self but also insisted on reading The Great Gatsby — all of it — to his audience rather than doing anything funny.
  • Hugh Laurie, who suffers from depression, comes across as extremely quiet and insecure when not given a script. This was most notable during the first episode of QI when Stephen Fry thought it would be very nice to have his best friend on the panel for the show's introduction... whereupon Laurie said about ten words total. Interestingly Fry has said that, in private, Hugh is actually the funnier, smarter one of the two; Hugh denies this.
  • Jordan Lennon of The Nutters fame plays the fiery Dublin Skanger in most of his roles - and even Jake is quite over-the-top when Surrounded by Idiots. Out of character, although prone to cursing a lot, he's much softer spoken and exaggerates his accent and voice for roles.
  • Jon Lovitz has played some of the most absurd characters on television, but in interviews, he is extremely quiet, even to the point of mumbling, and hardly ever makes any jokes. An interview on MTV Live at the height of his popularity shows how seriously boring he can be to talk to without a character to play.
  • Christopher Lloyd made a career of playing loopy, over-the-top characters like Reverend Jim Ignatowski and Doc Brown, but in real life is very shy and laconic. According to Bob Gale's commentary on the Back to the Future Part III DVD, when he tried to do promotional interviews on talk shows, he froze up and had to be gently coached by the interviewer; and in a New York Times interview, he just sat there silently, leaving the interviewer resorting to piecing together statements by Lloyd's costars. Robert Zemeckis says it took the entirety of shooting the first Back to the Future movie just for Lloyd to strike up a conversation with him (keep in mind as well that it took twice as long to film that movie as originally scheduled, because they had to re-shoot almost the whole thing due to the replacement of Eric Stoltz with Michael J. Fox).
  • "Wild and Crazy Guy" Steve Martin is so painfully shy when not performing that when a fan walks up to him in public he typically hands them a card which says: ”This certifies that you have had a personal encounter with me and that you found me warm, polite, intelligent, and funny.”
  • The Marx Brothers played merry hell with this one. Groucho and Harpo were straight examples. Off-screen, they were both introverted and shunned raucous nightlife. Harpo was especially noted as being soft-spoken and shy; Groucho preferred to spend most of his leisure time reading to make up for his limited formal education. Zeppo is discussed below as an inversion - in real life, he was the funniest Marx brother.
  • Jason Mewes is best known as the wildly animated and swear happy first half of Jay and Silent Bob. In interviews, however, he is incredibly shy and mostly monosyllabic. Kevin Smith, on the other hand, is anything but silent when not playing Silent Bob.
  • George Miller is known for Filthy Frank, in which he plays the eponymous character in a Gross-Out Show that aims to offend basically every demographic under the sun and has surprisingly deep but surreal lore. However, George is a lot more soft-spoken in real life as exemplified in the now-deleted video "FILTHY FRANK EXPOSES HIMSELF", in which George plays himself and talks about himself at-length, and does not like to talk about the show on his personal social media accounts (partly because he fears that his association with the show could negatively impact future job prospects). In fact, his next project, his music persona Joji, is a lot more serious and somber in tone.
  • David Mitchell and Robert Webb of That Mitchell and Webb Look and Peep Show fame, both invoke this and invert this respectively. While Webb tends to play snarky, quick-witted characters and Mitchell is The Stoic and reserved Straight Man in their act, Webb has commented that it's the opposite when it comes to hosting or being a panellist on Panel Shows, where he is more shy and quiet and Mitchell is more laid back and prone to unleashing scathing retorts and rants at a moment's notice.
  • Colin Mochrie is renowned for being perhaps the most hysterical and out-there member of the Whose Line Is It Anyway? cast. Still, when Mochrie's offstage or doing interviews, he's quite mellow and humble.
  • Chloë Grace Moretz's Star-Making Role was playing the foul-mouthed tween girl assassin Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass at the age of twelve. Her Establishing Character Moment, in which she drops the C-bomb before slaughtering a horde of mooks, sparked outrage from Moral Guardians when it was used in a preview clip. Offstage, Moretz was so straitlaced that she couldn't even bring herself to say the film's title out loud, instead referring to it as "the film" in interviews and "Kick-Butt" in private. This is probably why, even though her films haven't gotten any less graphic now that she's an adult, she's still seen as a role model for teenage girls.
  • Zero Mostel was said by his family to usually be very quiet and shy, only to explode into the life of the party when given a character to play.
  • Richard Mulligan of Soap, according to castmate Jay Johnson, was an extremely serious, methodical actor. Although Burt's physical comedy looked improvised and off-the-cuff, it was actually painstakingly plotted and reworked by Mulligan.
  • Michael Palin is universally known offstage as 'the nice Python', and comes across in his published diaries as remarkably sane and well-grounded for a man who has spent his performing career being very silly indeed.
  • Kal Penn and John Cho, both play this straight and invert it. Penn, who plays loose, freewheeling Kumar in the Harold and Kumar movies, has stated his real-life personality is almost exactly the reverse. Cho, his other half in the films, is relaxed and freewheeling—the opposite of his straitlaced Asian everyman in the films.
  • Paul Reubens was soft-spoken when not playing Pee-wee Herman. During a promotional interview for Mystery Men, he managed to get through the first few minutes without saying a word.
  • James Rolfe, famously known as the creator and role behind the Angry Video Game Nerd, is noted to be a well-mannered, collected, thoughtful guy when he’s not the nerd who yells and curses at a video game on a regular basis.
  • Jerry Sadowitz is an absolutely ferocious performer onstage in terms of both performance style and offensive material. Offstage, he is said to be a quiet man who is nowhere near as abrasive as his stage act.
  • Ross Scott of Freeman's Mind and Ross's Game Dungeon is known for yelling loudly when voicing Gordon Freeman in the former and making snarky remarks, obscure references, and non-sequiturs in the latter. In actuality, Ross is pretty quiet and thoughtful and doesn't really make jokes outside of his works.
  • Peter Sellers — from The Goon Show, the original Pink Panther movies, Dr. Strangelove, etc. — was known for this. His friends thought he was kind of weird and quiet but as soon as he was given a character to play he was super-animated and hysterical. Directors described him as not having any real personality of his own — which made him a perfect actor. Friends, family, and costars tend to agree that his character in Being There, Seemingly Profound Fool Chance the Gardener, is the closest analogue to who he actually was as a person. In fact, that's why he wanted to play the role.
    • In his The Muppet Show appearance, he's told by Kermit the Frog that he can relax and act like himself when he's not onstage. He replies with the now-iconic quote, "There is no me. I do not exist. There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed."
    • Sellers invoked this trope in an interview: "I'm a classic example of all humorists - only funny when I'm working." In a different interview, Sellers reeled off a variety of voices and characters; when the interviewer then asked if Sellers was using his real voice, Sellers looked lost and muttered, "I don't know."
    • His The Goon Show colleague Spike Milligan was equally serious off stage. People who have met him state he would sooner discuss mental health than joke around. And he wrote some amazingly sensitive poetry.
  • Wallace Shawn, who is perhaps well known for playing goofy oddball characters like Vizzini, Grand Nagus Zek, Stuart Best, and Rex, is a self-proclaimed stoic—in an interview about The Princess Bride, Shawn claimed that he completely lacks a sense of humor and only manages to be funny because he tries to perform as his funnily written characters as best as he can. If you're used to his funny roles, it's quite jarring to see him in something quiet like My Dinner with Andre, where he's basically playing himself. He also writes incredibly dark, serious, and often politically charged plays; if you think of him as a guy who mostly appears in kids' movies, plays like A Thought in Three Parts (which contains eye-popping amounts of onstage sex) and The Designated Mourner (which is about political murder) will surprise you.
  • Michael Showalter is known for being pretty serious and aloof in real life, a complete 180 from his work on shows like Stella and The State.
  • Mochrie's Whose Line co-star Ryan Stiles is much the same- hilarious in his acting roles and while on stage, but reserved, thoughtful, and calm when being interviewed.
  • Jimmie Walker aka J.J. "Dy'no' mite" Evans from Good Times. He has been a successful stand-up comic throughout the decades but he prefers to take his image in a totally different direction from the buffoonish character that made him famous. He is very calm, introspective, and candid in interviews. Much of this might be attributed to the popularity of the J.J. character causing a rift between fellow cast member Esther Rolle who felt that the J.J. character was sending the wrong message.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic is one of the most lasting comedians in entertainment, but has noted in interviews that because of his stage name people expect him to be crazy at all times. He is generally a friendly guy and cracks jokes at times like anyone else, but besides his music, he is never outlandish or "weird." He has also stated that it takes him a while to come up with the really funny stuff, citing that as the reason why there's generally a four-year gap between his albums.
  • Gene Wilder, in contrast to his loud, over-the-top onscreen performances, was in real life an extremely quiet and soft-spoken man.
  • Frank Zappa made (mostly) humorous music, but took it utterly seriously, scoring his compositions as if an orchestra was to play them, spending hours mixing his work for the perfect sound quality, and regularly replacing musicians if he felt they weren't good enough. He treated his music like a business. Steve Vai, who worked with Zappa in the early 80s, has said that he wasn't sure if he was in the band at first because Zappa didn't give him any indication at his audition.

  • Greyworm is a stoic, no-nonsense loyal guard who literally doesn't know what a joke is (admittedly his upbringing barred him from knowing about such things). His actor, Jacob Anderson aka Raleigh Ritchie loves Mario Kart, gushing about cat videos, and is one of the most popular guests on Guest Grumps for just how funny he is.
  • Tom Baker has managed to invert this trope while playing a batshit insane comedy Large Ham grotesque on Monarch of the Glen. The producers noticed he seemed dissatisfied with the part and asked him why. He responded that he thought he was a lot more interesting than the character. And the producers agreed.
  • Christian Bale is known for being an intense method actor who almost always plays serious characters. He describes himself as a man with a sick sense of humour. The reason he practices Method Acting is because he has a bad habit of corpsing and has apparently ruined multiple takes of American Psycho, of all things, by laughing behind the camera.
  • Sasha Banks plays a ruthless humourless Alpha Bitch in the ring. Outside it, she's very goofy and geeky. The skits she did with Team BAD and the New Day are far closer to her real-life persona.
  • Kate Beckinsale is a glamorous beauty who was at first known for playing humourless Action Girls - most notably the cold and aloof Selene in the Underworld (2003) franchise. Offscreen she's a huge prankster and apparently carries a pantomime horse costume when travelling to amuse herself.
  • David Boreanaz's most famous role was the brooding vampire Angel on the Buffyverse. Onset, he was notorious for doing anything to get his castmates to laugh, up to and including exposing himself. There were even times when he and Sarah Michelle Gellar pranked each other by eating garlic and other bad-smelling things before kissing scenes.
  • Adrien Brody has a tendency to play solemn, stoic characters who perpetually seem to be at the verge of tears or flat, dull characters in independent films. He accepted his Academy Award by planting The Big Damn Kiss on Halle Berry, and appeared at the next year's ceremony to present the Academy Award for Best Actress with breath spray in hand.
  • Henry Cavill. While he plays an intense and serious Superman, Cavill himself is easygoing and even playful and comes across as very charming and humorous in interviews.
  • Emilia Clarke's Star-Making Role as an Emotionless Girl in Game of Thrones. Further Action Girl roles followed. Out of character however, she geeked out at getting to meet Matt Le Blanc and has poked fun at the entire world seeing "the good bits". She describes her character in Me Before You as closer to her real personality.
  • George Clooney is well known for playing the charming, sophisticated leading man and is one of Hollywood's biggest stars. He's also infamously Hollywood's biggest prankster routinely playing (often immature) jokes on his fellow cast membersnote  in stark contrast to his more suave on-screen characters.
  • Misha Collins plays the humorless angel Castiel on Supernatural but on Twitter, Facebook, and at conventions, he's always joking and trolling the fans. He mentioned once that the alt-version of Castiel from the Apocalypse World universe, a hippie stoner who has orgies, is disturbingly similar to his actual personality.
  • Daniel Craig is widely known for playing James Bond, who despite being a Deadpan Snarker is generally very intense and a Perpetual Frowner. In contrast, Craig described himself as a giggly man with a self deprecating sense of humour, who cracks very easily as seen in interviews.
  • Adam Douglas, to contrast The Nutters (mentioned above), plays the Only Sane Man and self described himself as the boring character. In real life, however, he's known for being funny and goofy - and considered one of the funniest members of the cast. Contrast his and Jordan Lennon's separate interviews on the Actors' Life Podcast; Jordan remains serious and stoic throughout most of his, while Adam is energetic and constantly cracking jokes.
  • Speaking of the Marx Brothers, Margaret Dumont, who was frequently cast as snobby widows that acted as the (very) straight woman to the brothers' zaniness. Despite urban legend, she got the joke just fine, and during her appearance with Groucho on Hollywood Palace, she could be seen Corpsing at Groucho's ad-libs.
  • Chris Evans plays Captain America, who while not entirely humorless is not the wisecracking comedian type compared to his peers. This performance has made many forget that Chris Evans started off mostly in comedic roles or as the comic relief and it can be a bit jarring to watch the man be jovial and crack jokes during interviews after watching him as a stone-faced soldier for a while. And while Cap has only mustered a chuckle at best, Evans' tendency to burst into laughter during interviews has reached memetic status.
  • Orlando Bloom's most famous roles are those of stoic, serious heroes like Legolas, Will Turner or Balian of Ibelin. But watch any commentary or behind-the-scenes interview with him and the man comes off as very energetic and jovial, often joking with the cast and crew.
  • Michael Fassbender is known for gritty and intense characters. In interviews, he's a Genki Guy and has no shortage of jokes.
  • WWE ring announcer Lilian Garcia was very serious on-screen and usually portrayed as a timid and quiet person. Off-screen, however, as a glance at the numerous talk shows she's hosted on After-Buzz will demonstrate, she's a very bubbly and animated person. Far more energetic than how she was portrayed on-screen.
  • Judy Garland was famed for playing The Woobie in just about everything, and the press had an image of her as this tragic depressed figure. Offscreen however she was rather The Pollyanna and reportedly have a great love for fun and silliness. One reporter recalls her casually calling up the White House to sing "Over the Rainbow" for the president's birthday during an intermission.
  • Vanessa Hudgens finds herself playing Brainy Brunette, Girl Next Door, or moody teen roles. In interviews, she's a bubbly Genki Girl who can barely sit still.
  • Christopher Judge as Teal'c in Stargate SG-1. He's extremely stoic on screen, and his character laughed out loud exactly once during the show's ten-year run, but in the blooper reels, he's the one making immature jokes off the lines and giggling.
  • Keira Knightley usually does serious period films as a Proper Lady speaking in an I Am Very British voice. Outside she describes herself as "a real scruff", and always jokes around in interviews. On the Pirates of the Caribbean commentary she cheerfully points out the scenes where her bra wasn't padded. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is closer to her real personality.
  • Jennifer Lawrence typically acts in serious films such as The Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook but is known to be spontaneous and hilarious in Real Life. Case in point - she was the biggest contributor to The Swear Jar on set, and cheerfully describes her Femininity Failure when she tried to be an Ambercrombie model.
  • Damian Lewis is best known for intense authority figures such as Major Dick Winters and Sgt. Nicholas Brody, is actually very witty and goofy in real life. When he appeared on The Graham Norton Show, he cheerfully told stories about sleepwalking and peeing in the street - not to mention shamelessly geeking out at the news that he'd been invited to the White House for dinner. On the Band of Brothers anniversary interviews he revealed that he got the part while hungover from a huge drinking spree the previous night.
  • Peter Lorre: Known for playing the first serial-killer on screen and many more, he was renowned among the Hollywood community of the time for his scathing wit, and, when given the rare chance, as a great comedic actor.
  • Becky Lynch was mostly portrayed on NXT as a serious ambitious competitor to the point of being the only sane woman surrounded by more exaggerated characters around her. With her retool into a steampunk babyface and move to WWE's main roster, the fact that she's actually a total goofball and Pungeon Master finally became part of her character and it was well-received.
  • E.G. Marshall of 12 Angry Men fame. Very frequently he was typecast as no-nonsense, businesslike characters. Behind the scenes, however, Marshall had a notoriously mischievous sense of humor, especially when refusing to reveal what his initials stood for (his stock response: "Everybody's Guess"). He could also be found pulling pranks on his co-stars and ad-libbing profane jokes and non-sequiturs while filming the 70's medical drama The Bold Ones: The New Doctors.
  • Zeppo Marx's movie persona was always a bland Straight Man and romantic hero, but off-screen he was said to be the funniest of The Marx Brothers. Being the youngest of the Marx Brothers, he also grew up watching his brothers perform and could impersonate them perfectly to the point that if he was ever called on to fill in for one of his brothers during a show, the audience wouldn't be able to tell the difference (it helped that the brothers looked damn near identical out of makeup and costume; in one group photo taken in 1915 the only real indicator of who's who is their height).
  • Roger Moore was known for being just as witty in Real Life as he was onscreen, with heapings of Self-Deprecation. When he wasn't making dry quips, he would sometimes play pranks.
  • Greg Morris played the serious, even-tempered Barney Collier on Mission: Impossible. TV audiences would never figure that Morris was the cast's practical joker who tried to make his co-stars break up during shooting and traded pranks with the cast and crew of Mannix (who shared production facilities with M:I).
  • Jared Padalecki is best known for playing the quiet, broody Sam Winchester in Supernatural, but like his costars Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins above, his public persona couldn't be more different in real life. He is the single biggest prankster on set, he's chatty and cuddly, and is generally likened to a giant puppy. Sharp-eyed viewers have noted that Padalecki and Ackles act more like the other one's character, down to Padalecki knowing more about cars than Ackles.
  • Pedro Pascal has sternly dedicated starring roles on Narcos, The Mandalorian, and The Last of Us, with a usually deadpan or macabre sense of humor. Outside of his performances, he enthusiastically gravitates his humor towards non sequiturs, self-deprecation, and physical comedy.
  • Keanu Reeves developed a reputation for being The Stoic and essentially a pioneer of Dull Surprise in The '90s. Watch any interview with him, especially in The New '10s, and you'll see an extremely lively and friendly man that you can't imagine ever killing anyone with a pencil.
  • Former WCW commentator Tony Schiavone was always the cold, snarking Straight Man to Bobby Heenan at the announce table, but in real life, Tony is very boisterous and has a great (though juvenile) sense of humor, especially on his "What Happened When" podcast.
  • Brent Spiner as Data — a completely emotionless character played by an utter goofball of an actor. On the same series, the uptight, honour-obsessed Klingon warrior Worf was played by easygoing and laid-back Michael Dorn, who has also described himself as a bit of a giggler. On Star Trek: Voyager, Tim Russ played Tuvok who was even more of a Spock than Spock, while the cameras were rolling. The rest of the time, he was playing childish, ridiculous, and hilarious practical jokes on the rest of the cast from Day 1. Check out this video of him comically overselling getting stunned by a phaser.
  • Grey DeLisle tends to get typecast as the bad girl who is usually hyper sadistic. The real Grey is a delightfully silly person to talk to and surprisingly dorky at times.
  • Kristen Stewart is known as the Dull Surprise Bella Swan in Twilight and it became an internet meme. Offscreen she's a jokester.
  • Ming-Na Wen plays Melinda May, the frosty, no-nonsense secret agent with a dark past on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., when in reality Wen is a Dirty Old Woman and the goofiest member of the cast.
  • Cara Gee gained recognizability as the hardass Belter commander Camina Drummer in The Expanse. But if you watch the behind-the-scenes videos, she's the goofiest one in them. Similarly, Wes Chatham, who plays the brooding Amos, is pretty laid-back offscreen.
  • Kate Winslet in movies is usually serious (aside from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). In real life, she's a funny hilarious lady, who apparently keeps her Oscar in the bathroom to allow any visitors to play with it.