This weekend brings Paul Feig’s action comedy “Spy,” which along with fine, hilarious work from Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne and Miranda Hart includes many gut-busting moments from ass-kicker extraordinaire Jason Statham. That may seem unusual; it shouldn’t. Statham’s first screen role was in “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” where all he did was crack jokes. He was quickly repurposed as one of our last, traditional action gods, forced to use action more than words. Even in the superbly, surreally silly “Crank” films, he’s the growly straight man amidst a tsunami of insanity.
Statham isn’t the only one who should follow the path from straightfaced thespian to occasional goofball, laid by the likes of Ben Kingsley, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and Emma Thompson (who once, around the time of “Howards End,” stole an episode of “Cheers”). In the above slideshow you can see more who should do likewise.