Dave Chappelle is known as one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time, and with any successful career in stand-up, there tends to come a career in acting. Chappelle is among the likes of Jim Carrey, Chris Rock, and many others that were able to make the transition from comedy to acting on both television and the big screen.
While Chappelle prefers the role of a stand-up comedian, he had plenty of roles that have kept him busy over the years. Here’s a look at some of Chappelle’s best acting performances, many of which come from when he was still a rising comedian.
The first, and to this date, the only time, that Dave Chappelle has had top billing in a feature film came in 1998 in the stoner comedy film “Half Baked”. Starring alongside Jim Breuer, Guillermo Diaz, and Harland Williams, Chappelle played Thurgood Jenkins, a janitor that had was easily the most grounded out of his weeded-out pals.
The film didn’t receive great reviews from critics, but it did do pretty well at the box office, making $17.5 million on a budget that was less than half of that. “Half Baked” would end up becoming more of a cult classic, and in the years since it was released, the overall view of the film has been much more positive. However, writer Neal Brennan said that the negative reaction upon its release caused a drift between him and Chappelle temporarily and almost ruined their careers.
The Nutty Professor
Released in 1996, the comedy film “The Nutty Professor” stars Eddie Murphy as a morbidly obese scientist named Sherman Klump that’s attempting to woo a woman named Carla played by Jada Pinkett-Smith. However, Klump catches the attention of comedian Reggie Warrington while the two are on a date, with Warrington played by Dave Chappelle.
Chappelle launches one fat joke after another, causing Murphy’s character to come up with a weight-loss potion. After taking the potion and becoming Buddy Love, though, Klump gets his revenge on Chappelle’s character by stealing his spotlight at the comedy club.
While most of the acting roles for Chappelle have been straight from the comedy genre, he’s mixed it up a bit every now and then. One of his more serious roles came in the 1997 film “Con Air” starring Nicolas Cage, with Chappelle playing the role of ‘Pinball’ Parker. While there were some serious criminals involved in the movie, Parker wasn’t one of them.
Parker was a low-level inmate, which Chappelle used to play a character that wasn’t heavy-handed or the “alpha” of the group. Chappelle appears in several scenes, getting about five minutes of screen time with a few memorable interactions with the main characters.
Martin Lawrence was on a tear during the late 1990s and early 2000s, and one of his biggest hits was “Blue Streak”, starring alongside Luke Wilson as Miles Logan, a diamond thief who poses as a detective after breaking into a police station. Chappelle’s character, Tulley, is someone that’s owed a lot of money by Miles, making for a great scene.
While in an interrogation room, Lawrence’s character tries to get Chappelle to stop talking, so as not to blow his cover. The result is one of the funniest scenes in the film, while Chappelle also gets involved in a shootout with Lawrence and Wilson earlier on in the movie. Fans of the movie certainly remember lines like “You didn’t use to be so violent!”
A Star is Born
“Con Air” was an action film, but there were a lot of comedy elements involved, especially for Chappelle’s character. That was not the case, however, for “A Star is Born”, which was a straight-up drama that marked a huge change of pace in Chappelle’s acting resume.
The Oscar-winning film starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga earned over $436 million at the box office, with Chappelle playing the role of George “Noodles” Stone, a musician who was also Cooper’s character’s (Jack) best friend. The casting took a lot of chances, and it paid off beautifully.