Sometimes the most memorable part of a film isn’t the lead or even the story – it’s that supporting actor who just blows you away every time they appear. Here are 10 supporting actors who stole the scenes they were in.
1. Robin Williams as Dr Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting
If there’s one guy who always steals the show it’s Robin Williams. It’s just what he does. He’s that damn good.
And although he’s known for his improvisation, there are few times it worked better than in Good Will Hunting.
Not only did he improvise the entire routine about his wife farting in her sleep – causing both Matt Damon and the cameraman to genuinely crack up – he also ad-libbed his final words in the film, “son of a bitch… he stole my line”.
Damon loved it so much he said it was “Williams’ best contribution to the movie” and they kept it in.
2. Mark Wahlberg as Sergeant Dignam in The Departed
Next on our list of supporting actors stole scenes is Marky Mark himself. In a film with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson, it’s hard to imagine anyone stealing their thunder. But Wahlberg hijacked every single scene he was in – so much so, he went on to score an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Not bad for a guy who cursed and insulted his way through a 2.5hr film.
3. Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada
This might be a cheeky one since some people argue that Streep and Hathaway shared the lead. Technically though, Hathaway was the lead, which means we can still include Meryl’s performance in The Devil Wears Prada as a scene-stealer. And it really was.
From the way she commands attention with barely more than a whisper, to the cutting remarks delivered with a tiny self-amused curlicue of irony, Streep’s performance was mesmerising from beginning to end.
4. Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight
Thinking about this performance still gives us chills.
Ledger famously took a “method acting” approach to this role, isolating himself in a hotel room for 6 weeks while perfecting the Joker’s chilling laugh and voice.
It resulted in one of the most iconic, menacing performances of all time though, and bagged him a posthumous Academy Award.
5. Jena Malone as Johanna Mason in The Hunger Games
She may not get as much screen time as a lot of other actors in this trilogy, but boy, does she make her time count.
From her first scene stripping naked in an elevator, to her last promising to cover while Katniss slips away to kill President Snow, Jena Malone played the part of Johanna perfectly.
Sassy, confident, rebellious, strong… and madder than a honey badger on steroids.
6. Rhys Ifans as Spike in Notting Hill
Rhys Ifans is sixth in our list of supporting actors stole scenes. It’s been over 20 years since Notting Hill’s release, but we’re still in love with the hapless-but-lovable roommate who almost scuppers Will’s chance with American actress, Anna.
Rhys Ifans’ character, Spike, is a lights-are-on-but-no-one’s-home kinda guy. Ifans hapless portrayal is just spot on though, delivering epic one-liners with perfect comedic timing.
7. Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds
Waltz was fantastic in Django, but he was iconic in Inglourious Basterds.
In the film, he’s known as The Jew Hunter – and if we said he made our skin crawl it’d be an understatement.
But when an actor really makes you feel something, you can only tip your hat and congratulate them for a job well done – especially when it won them an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Plus, he also received the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival and a Screen Actors Guild Award for his portrayal of Landa.
8. Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas
The most famous (and certainly the most quoted) scene in Goodfellas is when Tommy DeVito (Pesci) jokingly-yet-uncomfortably accosts Henry Hill for calling him “funny.”
Pesci is also responsible for coming up with the premise after he had a similar personal encounter.
His performance earned him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, but Pesci said just five words after accepting the award (“It’s my privilege. Thank you.”), thus delivering one of the shortest Oscar acceptance speeches ever.
According to Pesci, the speech was so brief simply because he didn’t expect to win.
Now that’s funny.
9. Anne Hathaway as Fantine in Les Misérables
Although Hathaway was on-screen for just 15 minutes, she managed to make jaws drop and hearts break with her powerfully devastating performance.
She famously took method acting to the next level by cutting off all her hair and losing 25lbs on a diet that she referred to as “starvation”.
And although they did upwards of 20 takes of the iconic ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ performance, it was the fourth attempt that made the cut. Done in one take with a live vocal rendition, we can’t help but be thoroughly impressed.
10. Leonardo DiCaprio as Arnie Grape in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
Although Depp plays the lead role in this film and does so admirably, it’s Leonardo DiCaprio’s depiction of an autistic teenager that steals every scene.
The fact is, DiCaprio’s performance as Arnie Grape is simply sublime. From the improvised ‘nose flick’, the subtle hand gestures and mannerisms, to the way he blinks just that little bit slower and ever so slightly out of sync.
This is the kind of talent that you just can’t teach. You either have it or you don’t.
And that’s our list of ten supporting actors stole scenes. Are there any we missed out that you would like to have seen on the list? If so, leave us a comment below.
More from our movies pages HERE.
No Time To Die – Review
No Time To Die is the 25th instalment in the official James Bond series. It’s the VERY long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s Spectre. The 6-year gap between the two films is only matched by the same gap between Timothy Dalton’s last outing in 1989’s Licence To Kill and Pierce Brosnan’s debut in 1995’s Goldeneye. Here’s our review of No Time To Die.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the film, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
Of course, there are mitigating factors in that enormous gap. Namely COVID. Which made No Time To Die the first major film to delay its release due to the pandemic. Although, this film has had a difficult gestation irrespective of the global situation in the last 18 months. As soon as Spectre was released the speculation over Daniel Craig’s future in the role began. With him initially suggesting he would rather slash his own wrists than play the iconic spy again. He did a mea culpa on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show in August 2017, where he confirmed he would appear as Bond for a fifth and final time. The original director and writer, Danny Boyle and John Hodge, left the project a year later over creative differences. Cory Joji Fukunaga took over as director. While Bond script veterans Robert Wade and Neil Purvis took charge of the screenplay – with a sprinkling of magic from Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Originally slated for release in April 2020, at long last, we finally get to see Daniel Craig’s denouement as 007. His portrayal of Bond has been very much in keeping with the character of Ian Fleming’s original novels. His performances have certainly followed the dramatic lineage of Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton. Rather than the lighter portrayals by Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. Yet his Bond has displayed a vulnerability only really demonstrated with any plausibility by George Lazenby in his solitary outing as 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The deference to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is presented in stark relief throughout this 2h43min epic. Making this the longest Bond film in the series. As this was the first film I’ve seen at the cinema since before the pandemic, I was already excited before I even sat down. As a massive James Bond fan as well, I was close to apoplexy! I felt a tangible shiver go down my spine as the iconic gun barrel sequence appeared before we see James cruising around Italy in the classic DB5 with Madeleine Swann at his side. This anticipation was clearly felt by other cinema-goers. They have made No Time To Die break the UK box office record for the biggest opening weekend. It took almost £26m, breaking the record previously held by Skyfall.
I’m not going to spoil the plot for those who’ve not seen it. I had made a conscious decision to avoid spoilers before I went.
A step up?
This film is another shot in the arm for those who see Craig as the definitive Bond. This was aided by a refocusing of the Bond canon after the main tropes of the series were stretched to breaking point by the invisible cars and melting ice palaces of Die Another Day. And then stretched still further by Madonna’s cameo as a fencing instructor. Daniel Craig was given leeway to truly regenerate James Bond for the 21st Century. The stripped-back nature of Casino Royale, without most of the supporting characters that have been a staple of the series like Q and Moneypenny. Gave him licence (pardon the pun) to explore the deepest and darkest recesses of the Bond psyche. Some well-drawn female leads and villains really allowed Craig’s Bond to spar with them with depth and genuine emotion.
That exploration continues and grows in No Time To Die. We get to see an ageing, truly world-weary Bond, whose past he appears unable to escape. This leaves him in a state of almost constant angst. Paradoxically though, we also see him truly relaxed at times. In a way I can’t recall ever seeing James Bond in any of his previous cinematic outings.
The issue with that exploration is that a number of characters then have their screen time cut. Moneypenny is reduced to little more than a cameo. And Remi Malek’s Safin is almost secondary as he features in the opening moments as his story is told, but then disappears for what seemed like an eternity. He of course reappears but he almost seems a mild irritation within the plot and merely a conduit to allow us to see the climax of Daniel Craig’s Bond era. It’s a disappointing underuse of a terrific actor. One with a captivating screen presence, who could have been one of the most menacing Bond villains of all time. That said, the influence of his dastardly but highly sophisticated plan is felt by all of the main protagonists. Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld continues to wreak his havoc with malevolent glee from his cell. He again revels in the chaos of his twisted sibling rivalry with Bond.
Lea Seydoux is wonderful again as Dr Madeleine Swann, picking up where she left off in Spectre and giving Bond as good as he gets in every way imaginable.
There are new characters who definitely cut through. Ana De Armas is utterly charming in her relatively brief time on-screen as Paloma, while Lashana Lynch takes no nonsense from Bond as Nomi. She also gives us a potential indicator as to the future direction of the franchise. Which has been the subject of much discussion in all quarters. That debate has even made its way into the political sphere with even Boris Johnson weighing in on what gender the next actor to play 007 should be.
Hans Zimmer’s score is classic Hans Zimmer, adding power and bombast to the usual mix of stunning scenery and brilliantly choreographed stunts. He brilliantly weaves nods to previous entries in the Bond musical tapestry throughout his score. While his cues are always thunderous, they never overpower the action on screen, but do add a sonic rumble that I don’t think has been heard in a Bond score for quite some time. I found Fukunaga’s direction a bit mixed, with some of the cinematography unnecessarily showy. Some of the tracking shots almost gave me motion sickness while some (admittedly beautifully composed) shots of the scenery seemed to have made the edit purely so as whoever the drone operator was could demonstrate their skills.
The film is much too long, although at no point did I check my watch. It’s not that any of the plot points are superfluous, more that the pacing is a little slow in places. Some of the dialogue feels cliched and clunky, making what is a great story feel a tad generic. Which doesn’t do anyone justice. However, there were some excellent jokes, and I laughed out loud several times. You don’t have to be a 007 super fan to get some of the self-referential humour that they seem to enjoy sprinkling throughout the film.
Billie Eilish’s theme song is a worthy addition to the collection and certainly sits comfortably within the top half of the ‘Bond Theme Chart’. It’s definitely more memorable and evocative than Sam Smith’s ‘Writing On The Wall’ for Spectre. Her voice trembles at times as you can almost feel she recognises the significance of singing the theme for Daniel Craig’s final appearance in the franchise.
It was also very pleasing to see that this film has moved with the times and reflects the world of 2021 with its portrayal of women. Every single female character had a genuine purpose and important role within the plot. While of course, the female actors playing those roles are all irrefutably glamorous and attractive. There was genuine respect and no objectification of women.
I came out of the screening with mixed emotions. Glad to be back in the cinema on one hand, sad that Daniel Craig’s stint ordering Martini’s was over on the other. I was pleased that such a good climax had been created to bring this era of Bond to a close, and all its story arcs had been brought to conclusions. I’m also excited and apprehensive in equal measure for the future of such an iconic film series. But I was disappointed with some of the characters not getting the necessary screen-time to truly develop their characters. Surprisingly, I was almost tearful at the final few moments, especially as the credits rolled.
Overall, this is a loving homage to the James Bond series, past and present. It’s a solid if unspectacular film in its own right, but the performances of Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux, as well as the Bond history it wraps itself in, elevate it beyond that.
It’s not Craig’s best Bond film, as Skyfall is almost untouchable in my opinion, but it does bring closure to his tenure in the tuxedo in a manner that should please Bond fans across the board. It also tantalises us as to what the 6th age of Bond will look like. Let the intense speculation begin!
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 7/10
Thank you for reading our review of James Bond No Time To Die. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out who we think could be the next James Bond and why HERE.
Read IMDB information about No Time To Die HERE.
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