Pedro Almodovar Says Daniel Day-Lewis Can't Do Comedy (And Neither Could Marlon Brando)

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by Kevin Jagernauth
May 6, 2013 9:22 AM
24 Comments
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3-time Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis is known for his intensely focused, meticulously researched performances that mark him as one of the few actors of his generation who can truly claim to fully transform themselves from role to role, movie to movie. There is no doubt that he is a dramatic powerhouse, whether he's earnestly arguing for the abolition of slavery in "Lincoln," threatening to slice up whoever gets in his way in "Gangs Of New York" or embodying someone stricken with cerebral palsy in "My Left Foot." His talent can't be denied, but can he tell a joke on the big screen? At least one major director doesn't think so.

Currently doing the press rounds overseas for "I'm So Excited," Pedro Almodovar told The Yorkshire Post that while he admires Method actors, they don't have the chops to be funny. “To me 'Saturday Night Live' seems like cabaret, the cradle for decades of the best American comics. The Actor’s Studio, however, with all the respect and admiration it deserves, seems just the opposite to me," he explained. "Brando, a comedy actor? No. And he tried it. He even sang and danced in 'Guys and Dolls,' stiff as a board, but Brando was too self-aware. I don’t know if Montgomery Clift ever actually tried it but I can’t imagine him. Or James Dean. Or Daniel Day-Lewis." 

“I don’t debate his greatness but no matter how thin he is, Daniel Day-Lewis can’t manage to give the slightest sensation of lightness," Almodovar candidly stated. But surely, there must be someone who bucks the rule? Someone who managed to get the highest dramatic training, yet could still be effortlessly light and funny? Well, there is: “Marilyn Monroe is still the exception. Adopted by the Strasbergs, she managed to overcome the weight of the Method.”

So what do you think? Is Almodovar being too harsh on DDL, or does the actor have a big comedy up his sleeve? We'll say this -- he did get some genuine laughs with his acceptance speech this year. Weigh in below.

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24 Comments

  • Justin | September 1, 2013 8:45 AMReply

    Gene Wilder: Method Actor.

  • hannah | May 9, 2013 12:03 AMReply

    I mean..DDL was really funny in Lincoln. Lincoln was a funny person, and DDL captured that totally. I'm not sure he's Will Ferrell, but able to do a comedy? Probably.

  • Dan | May 7, 2013 6:58 PMReply

    Er has he seen There Will Be Blood? Or the numerous interviews where hes funny? I think he probably could do a comedy but depends what comedy hes talking about? Like The Hangover? Why would DDL do something like that and why would we want to see it? I think Christian Bale is an example of a method actor who can do serious drama and comedy, he is hilarious and serious at the same time in American Psycho.

  • Lou | May 7, 2013 11:57 AMReply

    No. Brando could not do comedy. He was stiff. He had a couple of great moments in Missouri, which was a dramatic film, but that was all. In the Countess of Hong Kong he was terrible. The great Meryl Streep, whom I love, drives me nuts in comedies since she has the tendency of laughing/giggling excessively. She was insufferable in Mama Mia and It's Complicated. But, for instance, Jack Lemmon and Walther Matthau were great in Odd Couple and equally great in The Days of Wine and Roses and Charlie Varrick, respectively. Being hilarious and being 'light' do not necessarily come as one same package.

  • kb rai | May 7, 2013 4:10 AMReply

    its pretty obvious he has not heard of THE FRESHMAN - where brando was hilarious or TEA HOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON...even in guys and dolls - marlon was the epitiomy of cool and swagger

  • Ryan | May 7, 2013 1:08 AMReply

    DDL is freakin' hilarious. How about the end of There Will Be Blood...had me in tears laughing! Almodovar is brilliant, but comparing DDL with miss Monroe and then topping it with "DDL can't do comedy" is nuts. Nothing against Monroe (she was great), but acting-wise she isn't in the same league with DDL. Sorry Pedro, but you are wrong...*presses button and launches your ass off the bridge....."

  • Eoin Daly | May 6, 2013 11:06 PMReply

    Just because Lewis does not do full comedies like Bridesmaids or even SNL does not mean he is not funny. He is funny in every one of his films and I agree that he is funny in real life as well but I like that Lewis picks great projects over bad ones and while most of them are not slap stick comedies does not mean he can be funny without having to try bad sex or fall over. I actually think he is quite funny in Room With a View.

  • wes | May 6, 2013 2:25 PMReply

    While I admire and respect Almodovar, I think he doesn't know what he's talking about here.

  • DG | May 6, 2013 12:26 PMReply

    Bedtime Story is a great movie and Brando is funny in that (I kind of think that movie could work as a remake/update if they got the right cast, maybe Owen Wilson in the older playboy role). Daniel Plainview makes me laugh out loud at certainty times but obviously is not traditionally funny. I think DDL could easily be funny or fit into an ensemble comedy but there's no way he could pull off a comedic lead a la Will Ferrel, Paul Rudd, Kristin Wiig, Adam Scott, etc.

  • kb rai | May 7, 2013 4:12 AM

    bedtime story has a remake - dirty rotten scoundrels with steve martin and michale caine

  • MDL | May 6, 2013 12:15 PMReply

    Daniel Day-Lewis had a light touch in Lincoln, which even had him tell a couple of jokes. I have no doubt that he could do comedy - and well. He's just not typecast that way. But who cares? Don't we have enough comedians?

  • Duddi | May 6, 2013 11:22 AMReply

    I've seen DDL in only one "clean" comedy so far, and that was "Starts and Bars" which was awful even thou it had its little moments, and DDL's performance wasn't bad at all, he was acceptable... But i understand why he never got back to that stuff, because he's better at more serious genre. And about Brando comments that Almadovar did, I would say that he was good in comedy either. I've seen this movie with Brando "The Tea House ofthe August Moon"" in which I think it's the best comedy performance from Brando (Also The Freshman and A Countess from Hong Kong, Bed Time Story come in mind as comedy movies that he did and he's good at them).

  • Alan B | May 6, 2013 11:27 AM

    DDL didn't go back to straight comedy because no one wants to do comedy. Major film directors rarely do it anymore, and most comedy stars DEPSERATELY want to do drama, instead. If Scorsese wants to do his first straight-up comedy since the '80s, then DDL might be interested. Yes, Almodovar is returning to comedy, but it's been a while since he did one, too.

  • cattt | May 6, 2013 11:22 AMReply

    TWBB and Gangs have a few funny bits, thanks to Day-Lewis.

    Speaking of Gangs of NY: Di Caprio can't do comedy.

  • Alan the Car Salesman | May 6, 2013 11:13 AMReply

    Dustin Hoffman? Jack Nicholson?

  • Drew Morton | May 6, 2013 9:40 AMReply

    DDL did a pretty good job at this year's Oscars.

  • simone | May 6, 2013 11:10 AM

    I found his joke pretty lame. I don't understand what was so great and funny. it looked embarrassing to me. it's very irritating to see people treating him like God, while everyone hates Anne Hathaway's speech, which was fine.

  • Lou | May 6, 2013 9:39 AMReply

    Bravo Almodovar. As I commented on this site in the past, it is easier for a comedic actor to excel in a dramatic role than the contrary.

  • dmso | May 6, 2013 9:38 AMReply

    I guess Pedro has never seen A ROOM WITH A VIEW.

  • Zach | May 6, 2013 2:24 PM

    2nd, or 3rd, or whatever it's up to. A great role with great comedic bits that more than establishes that Day Lewis can bring the funny. I love Pedro, but he's talking out of his ass on this one.

  • Dianne | May 6, 2013 1:33 PM

    The humor Daniel Day-Lewis has brought to such grim roles like Bill the Butcher and Daniel Plainview show a thread of comedic genius. What about the humor in Lincoln, the storytelling and jokes. The fly-swatting scene in Room With a View hilarious. He was also very funny in "Stars and Bars." I can think of several humorous scenes in My Left Foot as well. What about the bottle scene in My Beautiful Laundrette during the party. I think he has shown himself to have great ability for humor and comedy that I have laughed at more than most of the comedians on screen today.

  • Jane | May 6, 2013 11:48 AM

    He was the funniest thing in that movie and he was fabulous from start to finish. He also threw in a bit of pathos when he lost the girl. Great performance.

  • Davey | May 6, 2013 10:30 AM

    That's what I thought when I read it, too.

  • Alan B | May 6, 2013 10:08 AM

    DDL swatting the fly is a GREAT piece of physical comedy. That could have been such a broad moment, but his ability to play this sequence entirely IN CHARACTER is a testament to his versatility.

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