Top 10 Actors You Forgot Were Rom-Com Leads

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Top 10 Actors You Forgot Were Rom-Com Leads

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Sammie Purcell
We bet you forgot these actors were rom-com leads. Our countdown includes Edward Norton, Nicolas Cage, Ralph Fiennes, and more!
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Top 10 Actors You Forgot Were Rom-Com Leads


Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 actors you forgot were rom-com Leads.

For this list, we’ll be looking at leading men who showed their capacity for love in big-screen genre films. However, these actors have seen their romantic roles get overshadowed by their other work.

Did we remember to include your favorite romantic wild card? If not, let us know which forgotten role you love in the comments below!

#10: Edward Norton
“Keeping the Faith” (2000)


It’s hard to think of Edward Norton as a romantic comedy lead. Although he can be very funny, his dry humor usually lends itself to much darker movies like “Fight Club.” So, you might be surprised to learn Norton starred in a rom-com in 2000. “Keeping the Faith” follows two unconventional romantic leads. The first is a priest played by Norton and the second is a rabbi played by Ben Stiller. Although they’re both in love with the same woman, their respective belief systems keep getting in the way. Not only did Norton star in this sweet romantic comedy, but he worked behind the scenes too by making “Keeping the Faith” his directorial debut. Amen to that!

#9: David Duchovny
“Return to Me” (2000)


Scully, you’re not going to BELIEVE this! Near the end of “The X-Files” first incredible run, David Duchovny, A.K.A. Agent Fox Mulder, tried his hand at the rom-com game. “Return to Me” stars Duchovny as a widower who starts dating a woman played by Minnie Driver. Unbeknownst to him, his new love interest received his late wife’s heart in a transplant. Considering Duchovny’s two most famous roles are Mulder and Hank Moody on “Californication,” it’s quite a change of pace to see him in a light and uncynical romantic comedy like “Return to Me.” But, in our professional opinion, he does a great job. Case closed.

#8: Chiwetel Ejiofor
“Love Actually” (2003)


This Christmas classic is filled with big names who would go on to become superstars after the movie was released in 2003. Standouts include Andrew Lincoln as the kinda creepy “to me, you are perfect” guy, and Keira Knightley as the married woman who’s subject to his awkward advances. But you might have forgotten who stars as the third character in that love triangle – Chiwetel Ejiofor. Most people remember him for his serious roles in grim pictures like “Inside Man,” “Children of Men,” and of course, an Oscar-nominated turn in “12 Years a Slave.” Ejiofor’s strong performances have made for an acclaimed and memorable career. But we’ll never forget when he appeared in arguably the most famous British ensemble rom-com of all time.

#7: Chris Evans
“The Nanny Diaries” (2007)


While most people recognize Chris Evans as Captain America today, he was once known by another, albeit less well-known moniker – “The Harvard Hottie”. Before Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans teamed up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they starred in this romantic comedy together. “The Nanny Diaries'' features Johansson as Annie, who takes on a job as a nanny for a wealthy family. While on the job, she strikes up a relationship with Evans’ “Harvard Hottie”, who lives in the same building. Although the two have great chemistry, we still find it a bit strange to see them on screen together when they’re not fighting aliens, running from the law, or in mortal danger. Honestly, we half expected Thanos to show up.

#6: Nicolas Cage
“Moonstruck” (1987)


For moviegoers of a certain age, the first thought they have when seeing Nicolas Cage is that he’s about to steal the Declaration of Independence. But before he was in the business of stealing historical documents, he starred in a really wonderful romantic comedy with Cher, no less. “Moonstruck” features the famous singer as Loretta, an Italian-American woman who falls in love with her fiance’s brother Ronny, played by Cage. The two actors give absolutely magnetic performances. Directed by Oscar nominee Norman Jewison, the movie was wildly successful and managed to win a few Oscars. Maybe Cage should make movies where he steals hearts more often.

#5: Chris Rock
“Top Five” (2014)


Chris Rock is an “SNL” alum, stand-up comic, and...a romantic comedy star? While “Top Five'' might lean a bit more on the comedy side of things, it still definitely fits the bill as a love story. In addition to writing and directing the film, Rock stars in the picture as a comedian named Andre Allen. “Top Five” follows a New York Times reporter played by Rosario Dawson doing a profile on Allen. The two spend the day wandering New York City, talking about life and relationships, and falling in love. We already knew Rock was funny, but his work in this film proved he could also lay the romance on thick.

#4: Sam Rockwell
“Mr. Right” (2015)


In recent years, Sam Rockwell has become highly acclaimed for his work in Oscar-y movies such as “Vice,” “Richard Jewell,” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” A lot of these movies, especially “Three Billboards”, have him acting in pretty brutal scenes. So, it might be surprising to learn that Rockwell also starred in an absurd romantic comedy before all those grounded roles. In 2015, Rockwell played opposite Anna Kendrick in “Mr. Right,” a movie about a woman who finds out the guy she’s dating is also a hitman on the run. The movie didn’t do super well at the box office or with audiences. However, the chemistry between Kendrick’s Martha and Rockwell’s hitman character was great. We think you should give it another shot!

#3: Ralph Fiennes
“Maid in Manhattan” (2002)


You may know Ralph Fiennes from one of his many iconic roles. He starred in the award-winning “The English Patient” and made a seriously terrifying turn as Voldemort in the “Harry Potter” franchise. But you might not remember that Tom Riddle himself once led a rom-com. And this wasn’t just any not any rom-com—this particular film featured J-Lo herself. In “Maid in Manhattan,” Fiennes plays a man running for Senate who falls in love with a maid at his upscale hotel after he mistakes her for a wealthy guest. Fiennes is really charming in this film. However, it’s still hard not to think about the fact that Voldemort is in a rom-com.

#2: Paul Bettany
“Wimbledon” (2004)


Now for another Marvel star who cut their teeth on a romantic comedy! Before Paul Bettany ever donned a cape as Vision, he starred in this sporty rom-com with another superhero movie alum, Kirsten Dunst. Bettany plays Peter Colt, a past-his-prime British tennis star who meets and falls in love with Lizzie Bradbury, the American star on the rise. The movie itself received middling reviews. However, Bettany brought tons of British charm and proved to be an effective romantic lead. It’s sort of ironic that this charming guy went on to play one of the most socially awkward Marvel heroes.

#1: Tom Hardy
“This Means War” (2012)


In 2012, Tom Hardy gave us an iconic performance when he played Bane. But audiences probably forgot that a lesser-known Hardy film called “This Means War” also came out that same year. The romantic comedy stars Hardy and Chris Pine as two spies who compete for Reese Witherspoon’s heart. It’s incredibly tough to visualize Tom “I was born in the darkness” Hardy as a rom-com star today. And it was just as hard for audiences to accept at the time. Despite featuring three compelling leads, the movie flopped. But you know what? We’re just glad we got to see Tom Hardy play a role where he doesn’t have to wear a mask.
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