Zach Galifianakis became a household name after his career-making role in The Hangover, but he was making appearances in highly praised movies long before that. It was smaller roles in critically acclaimed films like Up in the Air that eventually led the way to the superstardom he’s achieved today. He also garnered critical acclaim for his supporting role in last year’s Birdman. His next movie — Masterminds — is scheduled to be released in U.S. theaters September 30th, 2016. Here’s a look back at eight movie roles that made us love Zach Galifianakis.
1. The Muppets
Galifianakis made a cameo in both The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted as Hobo Joe, a human character that is the only person in the audience as the Muppets begin their telethon to save The Muppet Theater. Later on, he pretends to be an usher of sorts, offering to show audience members to their seats for five dollars. The Muppets movie was a box office success, grossing a worldwide total of over $165 million and earning a 96 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Galifianakis reprised his role in Muppets Most Wanted to observe the wedding between Miss Piggy and Kermit.
2. Up in the Air
Galifianakis only appears briefly in the 2009 American comedy-drama film as Steve, one of the particularly volatile employees fired during the onslaught of company layoffs conducted by Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick.) It’s a small but unforgettable role, as his character retaliates by pouring bleach into the office coffee pot. His performance proves Galifianakis’ ability to do a lot with only a short time on screen. The film earned six Academy Award nominations and glowing reviews, with a 91 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
3. Puss in Boots
The actor voiced the character of Humpty Alexander Dumpty in this 2011 animated kids movie, a spinoff of the movie Shrek. In the film, his character plots to retrieve golden eggs from a special goose. Critics praised his performance, claiming he stole the show from both Banderas and Hayek, who voiced the other animated characters. His character was called one of the most intriguing animated characters in quite some time. The movie has an 84 fresh percent rating and $149.2 million in North America.
4. The Hangover
His infamous and unforgettable role in the 2009 comedy film made Galifianakis a household name. He plays Alan Garner, Doug’s (played by Justin Bartha) socially inept future brother-in-law that comes along to his bachelor party. The movie earned generally positive reviews (a 79 percent fresh rating) for its comedic approach, with Galifianakis’ performance in particular generating tons of buzz. The role earned him many new fans, especially among the younger demographic, and he eventually won the MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance. The film spawned two sequels, The Hangover II and III.
This 2008 satirical comedy stars Galifianakis alongside Judy Greer, as George Washington Winsterhammerman, an employee in a dystopian future at the largest and most profitable business called the Jeffers Corporation. As his name suggests, Winsterhammerman is also a descendant of George Washington. The film reportedly displays a different side of Galifianakis than the more in-your-face comedic chops he showed off in The Hangover. It was released after premiering at several festivals and earned mixed reviews, currently holding a 70 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
6. Youth in Revolt
The 2009 rom-com features Galifianakis as Jerry, the deadbeat boyfriend to mom of the protagonist, Nick (Michael Cera.) Galifianakis was given little screen time, as his character dies of a heart attack. While critics claimed the role didn’t quite make full use of his potential, the movie still earned decent reviews, with a 66 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It went on to gross $19.6 million worldwide.
7. The Campaign
The 2012 political comedy film stars Galifianakis alongside Will Ferrell as two North Carolina residents competing for a seat in Congress. The movie earned $104.9 million at the box office and received relatively positive reviews, with a 65 percent fresh rating and Galifiankis earned individual praise for giving his character a sweet and grounded element in an otherwise over-the-top plot line.
Galifiankis stars as “Weird” Wally in the cross-genre film from director David Twohy and co-screenwriter Darren Aronofsky. His character is one of the only five crew members who remain alive on board a submarine on patrol in the Atlantic Ocean in 1943. While the 2002 World War II horror film only earned a little over $600,000 at the box office, the movie gained fair reviews, with critics praising the strong acting on the part of the ensemble cast “full of experienced character actors.” It currently holds an approval rating of 64 percent.