6 Great Underrated Serious Roles of John C. Reilly

In the last decade or so, John C. Reilly has risen through the comedy ranks.   While Reilly’s been around since the mid 80s most people wouldn’t even realize that.   Lots of people associate him with Will Ferrell and movies like Step Brothers or Talladega Nights.  And while Reilly is certainly funny as all hell, he’s a very good character actor too.

I happen to love when Reilly plays a serious part.   With that in mind I selected six roles that are worthy of a mention.

The Perfect Storm

Playing Dale “Murph” Murphy, Reilly channeled his inner sailor.  He wound up being a pseudo tough guy but clearly someone with a heart.   There weren’t too many funny moments and clearly towards the end you see the emotions roaring out.   He was great in this movie.


This is about as straight as an arrow and goofy role you’ll ever see Reilly in.   Playing a confused and religious cop, he gets mixed up with a drug addicted female with a sordid past.  One whom he’s deeply attracted to.   You see him in serious cop mode but also see him praying to Jesus.  Personally I loved him in this movie.

For Love of the Game

Reilly was the perfect candidate to play Gus, a storied catcher in the big leagues.   I can’t tell you how well Reilly fits into the role of veteran baseball player.  I mean he doesn’t look like an athlete but his mannerisms were perfect for a catcher in that blue collar kind of way.

Casualties of  War

I had to put this movie because it was his first.  You can clearly tell that his acting needed a bit of work but not bad for a first showing.


Reilly isn’t really built to be the star of a movie (unless it’s a comedy) and Criminal proves that.  Still though, his character is extremely likable and you kind of root for him even though he plays a con man.

The Aviator

He does a great job of not overshadowing DiCaprio in this movie and being dorky enough to be a great supporting character.

*He wasn’t bad in Gangs of New York but I thought his accent was horrible so that kind of takes away.   Also gets mention for Hoffa and The Thin Red line.

Similar Posts


  1. I love this guy in serious roles. And I have to agree that in Gangs of New York his accent was horrible but I still loved him in that movie. I also thought he was great in Chicago.

  2. Gangs of New York had terrible accents. Scorsese screwed the pooch on that one, so that film’s flaws is his fault.
    John was good in Hard Eight and Bogie Nights, which were serious. Sort of.

  3. I hate it when people say “List fails without [name of favorite movie/song/whatever]” because that’s stupid, so I won’t say it. But seriously Natty, you absolutely have to include State of Grace on this list. He is one of the high points in an already incredible movie. In fact, up until his star making role in Boogie Nights everyone I knew simply called him Stevie, because Reilly was a “that guy” who nailed that performance so hard.

  4. He also returned to some serious acting in Cyrus, which I thought was a good movie. Not sure it would make the cut for this list.

    I actually thought it was going to be a comedy. It had funny moments, but was definitely serious.

    Speaking of Cyrus, am I crazy, or does Marisa Tomei seem to be getting hotter as she gets older? (w/the exception of The Wrestler)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.