15 Actors Who Should Appear in More Romance Movies

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Romance movies are a genre that has been asleep for almost a decade and is now slowly coming back, thanks to streaming services. The big rom-com blockbusters that made Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, and Hugh Grant movie stars might not exist anymore. Even then, the last few years have seen a revival of the genre, often mixed with others like sci-fi, time travel, and action, making for surprising, unique romantic comedies.

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Audiences are looking for new romantic kings, and since the genre’s evolution, many more actors are becoming intrigued by these kinds of movies that are surprising, unique, and romantic and make the public fall in love with the couple as much as the couple falls for each other. While romances and romantic comedies are often seen as less challenging work, many actors avoidance of them now make them challenging roles for many actors that could show their true range. With that in mind, audiences are wondering who should become the next Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant, or Matthew McConaughey and be a star in romance films? We have some ideas.

Update February 8, 2024. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner so here are even more male actors who should do more romantic comedies and what kind of stories those could be.

15 Jason Schwartzman

Jason Schwartzman is a unique actor and character who, until now, has only felt like a heartthrob in Wes Anderson films. Other than that, he’s always been more of a supporting character for more than two decades, sometimes even in rom-coms. It’s time to give him the lead role and let audiences see what romantic lead Schwarztman is all about.

The Perfectly Imperfect Romantic Lead

His fun, comedic acting would make him the perfect romantic star for indie movies directed by Leslye Headland (Bachelorette), Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said), or even… a Wes Anderson rom-com. Schwarzman is always game, so he wouldn’t recoil at playing a romantic lead who is not perfect at all and has as many defects as qualities, something rom-coms could use a bit more off.

Related: Best Jason Schwartzman Performances, Ranked

14 Bill Hader

Bill Hader used to be one of the funniest parts on every episode of Saturday Night Live. An absolute team player who was also a great supporting character in films like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Superbad. Everything changed after Barry. Hader created, wrote, directed, and starred in the TV series, proving all his talents off-screen and how he’s leading material on screen.

Hader Could Write, Direct, and Star in His Own Rom-Com

The actor was the accessible lead of Trainwreck, but that’s the only rom-com in his resume. He plays surprised and out of his element pretty well, so it makes sense that he’s the character who falls in love first and is trying to keep up with the woman who wants to date him. He could even write it and direct it himself like some old-school directors used to do. The movie would have more of an edge and surrealism, as Barry does, but the actor-writer-director could absolutely pull it off.

13 Christopher Walken

Christopher Walken needs no presentation. He’s been in more than 140 movies, he’s won an Oscar for The Deer Hunter, and has been part of some incredible films like King of New York or True Romance. Walken has also been a Bond villain, one of the best Saturday Night Live guests and even the star of one of the most famous video clips ever made, Fatboy Slim’s Weapon of Choice. What he hasn’t been is a romantic lead.

A Rom-Com About a Man in His Eighties

The actor is on the joke of his eccentricities and how Hollywood sees him, so it would be an interesting challenge for him to play, charming and in love, and he would crush the opportunity. The fact that the actor is 80 years old would also be interesting, making for a different kind of rom-com that we’re used to, where he could play a widower who finds a new meaning in life when he falls in love when he less expected it, one more in the mold of Something’s Gotta Give. Even better, let’s get that team together, let Nancy Meyers direct it, and make his love interest Diane Keaton.

12 Kieran Culkin

Kieran Culkin is an actor with a strange career who, in the last few years and thanks to Succession, has proven how good he can be. Although he has spent most of his career as a supporting player, he has never disappointed when he’s been the lead actor, like in Igby Goes Down or the last Succession season (all the awards he’s won have been as lead actor).

He Should Play Against Type

Although he’s mostly known for playing sarcastic, “in your face” characters, the actor could be very interesting playing against type and inhabiting a character who is much more uptight and lovey-Dowey and is her screen partner who is much more confrontational. Maybe some actresses like Aubrey Plaza or Kat Dennings. Now that he is an Emmy, Golden Globe and Critic’s Choice Award winner this could be an interesting direction for him to take his career.

11 LaKeith Stanfield

If you’re looking for weird yet charming actors in indie movies, LaKeith Stanfield is the guy to do it, as films like Sorry to Bother You or Uncut Gems prove. He also did something similar in Atlanta. Since then, he’s started to get opportunities as the lead, especially in TV, and has proven he can be the center of a movie. The Photograph also proved he’s romantic lead material and that he can have chemistry with anyone.

A Rom-Com Could Show How Great Actor He Really Is

To keep being part of the indie circuit, Stanfield could star in an indie rom-com, where his character is both funny, charming, and a bit weird. A film written by New Girl’s creator, Elizabeth Meriwether, might be perfect for him, as there, the actor could be charming, weird, funny, surprising, unique, and everything in between, proving how good of an actor he really is. His romantic interest could be Lake Bell, with whom Meriwether has worked in the past and who has a very different energy than Stanfield, making for a very interesting chemistry experiment between them.

10 Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves is an action hero, but he should get more credit for his rom-coms and come back to the genre to prove he still got it. He has been part of some memorable romances. From Something’s Gotta Give to The Lake House, Destination Wedding, My Own Private Idaho, and even John Wick, where if he wasn’t so in love with his dead wife and the pet she gave him, nothing would’ve happened.

Reeves Has Chemistry With Everyone

Reeves has chemistry with everyone and likes to make fun of himself, the perfect ingredients for a romantic comedy. He could use his charming, charismatic self to fall in love with some woman who has been recently divorced or is a long-lost love, that finds his ex-girlfriend in fun, unique circumstances. Whatever the plot, what’s for sure is that he would hit it out of the park, especially if his romantic partner is someone with whom he has worked before; someone like Winona Ryder, Sandra Bullock, or Charlize Theron. After years of being seen as an action hero, it would be nice to see him return to his romantic leading man roots.

9 Brian Tyree Henry

One of Brian Tyree Henry‘s greatest talents is how much he can say with just his face, be it exasperation, giddiness, or confusion (it was a talent Atlanta used for incredible effect). The face we haven’t seen him make that much is “in love”. That’s why a romance film starring Tyree Henry would be so interesting.

He Needs to Lead More Projects

The fact that none of his upcoming projects has that romantic component should also be an indication that this would be a unique way to go while also making him a leading man (he’s still a supporting actor in most of his work). What kind of romance movie would be great for him? Anything because he is just that good of an actor. He has been able to step into a variety of parts in a wide array of films and is often the best part. After many intense movies, a nice, lighthearted romance might be the way to go. Or even give him a more dramatic romance, which is a genre the actor feels comfortable in.

8 Willem Dafoe

Willem Dafoe has made a career of performing strange, weird, unique characters. That’s why playing a romantic lead would be so interesting, as it would be totally surprising. He has done that kind of role a couple of times, in Light Sleeper and Pavilion of Women, and even then, the movies were much heavier than a typical romance film. He’s shown he likes to have fun in films (all his Wes Anderson roles prove so), and him as a romantic lead would be something to see.

He Has an Unconventional Attractiveness

There’s also something to be said about the fact that this year, he’ll be 68 years old, and there should be more romance films about falling in love at that age. With his unconventional attractiveness, his eagerness to push the envelope, and the many great directors he could convince to work on the project, his romantic film would be something to see, that’s for sure.

7 Daniel Craig

Isn’t it surprising that the latest James Bond, a role where he’s a womanizer, hasn’t done that many romances in his career? He should change that. In the last few years, Daniel Craig has proven he likes to have fun and surprise audiences with his roles in Logan Lucky and Knives Out that look and feel nothing like 007. He should do the same with a rom-com.

Craig + Waller-Bridge = the Perfect Rom-Com

Craig has done mostly action and thriller, playing intense characters with brooding personalities. In Casino Royale, he had great romantic chemistry with Eva Green before the action began, so he has it in him as an actor, and a rom-com would go great with that new career trajectory he’s getting into. He has already worked with Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the last Bond movie (she did a pass on the script), so it would be a match made in heaven if both actors made a rom-com penned by her. And even if Waller-Bridge wasn’t interested in acting in it, they could cast Craig’s real-life partner, Rachel Weisz, as the chemistry between the two would be as real as they come. Craig’s roles in Logan Lucky and Knives Out have shown he enjoys doing comedies, so it would be both a treat for audiences and a challenge for him to take on a romantic leading role.

6 Steven Yeun

Most people first saw Steven Yeun in The Walking Dead, where his character’s relationship with Maggie (Lauren Cohan) was one of the few bright, optimistic spots in the whole show. It’s surprising, then, that all of his great performances have come in movies where there’s almost no romance at all. Even stranger, most of his most romantic performances have been voice acting, like Tuca and Bertie.

He’s Having a Fantastic Career

His career is fantastic, so all those choices are working, but audiences would love to see him come back to some more romance-worthy stories. It could be an unconventional romance, something a bit more weird and off-kilter, where the romance has a unique component (something like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or 500 Days of Summer), where he could act the hell out of it, while also showing he has chemistry in spades with his acting partner, and how he can light up when that special person enters the room. While Minari was not a romance movie, seeing the loving relationship Yeun had playing a husband was a refreshing for many audiences and something he should try more of.

5 Michael B. Jordan

Even though one of his first romance movies, That Awkward Moment, didn’t go as planned, Michael B. Jordan should get back in the genre (how a film with Zach Efron, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Mackenzie Davis, and Imogen Poots didn’t work should be a case study for Hollywood). Jordan was named People’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2020 and has the charisma, charm, and good looks to be a rom-com king, and yet he doesn’t appear enough in those kinds of films.

It Would Be an Acting Challenge for HIm

It would be fun seeing him get nervous, awkward, and with lovely eyes with a partner as good and charismatic as him, while it would also be a challenge for him, as falling in love believable on screen is also an acting talent. Something the actor hasn’t always been able to do. Jordan told All Hip Hop: “I’ve usually kind of strayed away from love stories in the past, (…) I couldn’t tap into real emotions in that type of way that could really connect with the character.” After that, he did A Journal for Jordan, and while a box office bomb it shows that Jordan can do more then intense action movies.

4 Dev Patel

Dev Patel got his start on Skins with a more than comedic part, while everyone around him had romantic stories, and the closer he’s been to a rom-com was in Slumdog Millionaire. Since then, he’s had an impressively eclectic career where he’s been a medieval knight, David Copperfield, and the tech guy in The Newsroom. Even if he’s dashing and charismatic, he hasn’t played the lead in any story where he falls in love, and he should change that.

He Could Lead the Next Rye Lane

The English actor has proven he can be as funny as he can be charming, making him the ideal lead for a romantic comedy. Until now, he’s always been doing his own thing with great indie directors, so maybe he could follow those instincts here and work with someone like Raine Allen-Miller, whose Rye Lane might be one of the most underrated rom-coms in the last few years, and where the actor could be everything a lead romantic actor must be and much more. Patel certainly has the looks of a romantic leading man, and it feels like he has untapped potential. No filmmaker has given him his own version of Notting Hill or You’ve Got Mail but someone should change that.

3 Jesse Plemons

Jesse Plemons doesn’t look or feel like a movie star, and yet he has already worked with Martin Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson, Shaka King, Jane Campion, and Charlie Kaufman. The actor has a big sense of humor and is always ready to make fun of himself with unique characters, like the one he played in Game Night.

A Realistic Romantic Lead

For all those reasons, Plemons would be a very fun addition to romance movies. He would give his spin on this sometimes clichéd world while also giving a sincere, unique performance. Plemons has the looks of every man, something that romantic leads like Tom Hanks and Billy Crystal had, and Plemons could be a modern-day successor. Maybe he could team up with his wife, Kirsten Dunst, and make a romantic comedy for the ages with their sensibilities and points of view. Whatever romance film he appears in, what’s for sure is that Plemons would make it better while also being a more realistic romantic lead than most actors who spend more time in the gym than in the real world.

Related: These Are Jesse Plemons’ Best Performances, Ranked

2 Oscar Isaac

Oscar Isaac is charm personified. Any other actor playing Llewyn Davis in Inside Llewyn Davis would’ve made audiences hate the character, but Isaac made them empathize with that disaster of a person because of how he played him. The actor has been the internet boyfriend for so long that every film he appears in is instantly memefied for images of him, even when he’s on an alien planet in Dune, has many personalities in Moon Knight or his life is falling apart in Scenes of a Marriage.

The Actor Loves Playing One-Half of Unique, Complicated Couples.

The actor is attracted to playing unique, complicated couples (usually with Jessica Chastain) like in Scenes of a Marriage or A Most Violent Year, so a romance movie isn’t a stretch for him. He should try one with some more comedy, as he’s proven he’s also great at it. What about a film where he falls in love with someone who has been a Platonic friend for years? That would give him some meat in the bone acting-wise while also making him swoon-worthy for audiences. Isaac could challenge himself with a lighter role while also delighting his legions of fans, who certainly wouldn’t mind a relaxing, cozy romance with him in the lead role.

1 Timothée Chalamet

Timothée Chalamet might be Leonardo DiCaprio for Generation Z. His popularity is also about vulnerability, something he showed in spades in Call Me by Your Name. Although he’s already in the franchise game with Dune and Wonka, Chalamet has also used his fame to work with some incredible directors in unique roles like Bones and All (not a romance, but there he showed how he can have chemistry with anyone). Call Me by Your Name was an unusual film, but it was in part a romance film, showing Chalamet can do those kinds of films while also giving them a different flavor than most.

A Unique Romantic Lead

For all those reasons, we believe Chalamet could do great work in a romance movie, making his vulnerability part of his character; maybe this time, he could be the one who focuses on his job as an architect (men in rom-coms are always architects) to find a soulmate, while all his friends are settling, getting married and having kids, as a role reversal of most 2000s rom-coms. Little Women was the best proof of Chalament having the swagger, charm, and wow factor that audiences want from a romantic leading man. Wonka showed his range in a more whimsical role and stepped outside of his intense character comfort zone. Like DiCaprio, he might have tried to escape his heartthrob image, but it might be time for him to embrace it.

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