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.
Hogwarts Houses For MCU Characters
Since its conception, Hogwarts houses have been a deciding factor in getting to know people. How someone answers “what Hogwarts house are you in?” can tell you a lot about a person. But where do some of our favourite MCU characters shape up when faced with the sorting hat?
Tony Stark/Iron Man- Ravenclaw
While Tony could be argued for almost any of the houses, Ravenclaw suits him best. Most of his development comes from the pursuit of knowledge. Aside from being one of the smartest characters in the MCU, he is constantly learning and improving upon his technology. He tends to approach large problems from a strategic and pragmatic standpoint, especially in his later films. Admittedly he can be brave and somewhat self-servingly ambitious. But who he is at the end of his arc and the way that he solves problems points to Iron Man being in Ravenclaw.
Steve Rogers/Captain America- Gryffindor
Is it even a question? Steve Rogers is definitely a Gryffindor. From day one, he has always strived to do what’s right. And he subtly wants a bit of glory for it too. He’s a natural leader and has always rushed into danger without a thought. He is undoubtedly driven by bravery and righteousness and is through and through a Gryffindor.
Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow- Hufflepuff
Natasha is tricky. She could truthfully swing in any direction. It may seem strange to put a spy in Hufflepuff, but if nothing else, Natasha is loyal. She cares deeply for those close to her and has shown that she’s willing to die for them. Her characterization throughout the MCU has been lacking, but her solo film has shown her to be fiercely loyal.
Bruce Banner/The Hulk- Ravenclaw
Another Ravenclaw. Similar to Tony, Bruce is very intelligent. While he seems to be less inclined to want to fight battles than Tony is, he is constantly learning. His relationship with the Hulk can even be characterized this way. By a desire to learn how to control him, then to understand him, then to become him. His arc is one that is driven by knowledge.
Thor is always looking to prove himself. Even though he can lift the hammer, he is constantly looking for validation that he is worthy. He’s not usually afraid of much, and when he is, he faces it anyway. What makes Thor a Gryffindor though is his desire to be the hero. He’s not in Slytherin because he doesn’t desire to rule. He’s not ambitious, he just wants validation.
Peter Parker/Spiderman- Gryffindor
Peter is another hard one. He’s intelligent like Bruce and Tony, which could throw him into Ravenclaw. He’s loyal to his friends, which could put him into Hufflepuff. But at his core, Peter is in Gryffindor. The proof is in one of his first lines in the MCU. In Civil War, he tells Tony, “if you can do the things I do, and you don’t, then bad things happen because of you. (paraphrased)” He feels that because he’s special, he has to act. And unlike Steve and Thor, Peter is almost always afraid. He faces his challenges in spite of that. And while he wants to have a normal life, and a typical High School experience, he selflessly puts himself on the line. Once again, Peter is not looking for recognition, he’s just trying to do the right thing.
Dr Strange- Ravenclaw
Lots of Ravenclaws in the MCU. For Dr Strange, there really isn’t any other option. He is completely driven by the pursuit of knowledge. And while recognition came with that, we see with his journey into the mystic arts that his true motivation comes from learning. He’s a very similar character to Tony Stark, and both of them are textbook Ravenclaws.
Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch- Hufflepuff
Like Natasha, Wanda is driven by her relationships. She is faithfully loyal to her brother, then Vision, then her family. She is definitely motivated to protect and care for those she loves. Including creating an entire alternate reality to be with them! Wanda is brave and intelligent, but at her core, she is loyal.
Finally, a Slytherin. Once again, was there any other option? Loki is characterized by his cunning and ambition. He wants to rule. And he doesn’t get there by rushing into battle. He gets there by being sneaky and clever. Loki is a Slytherin through and through.
Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel- Slytherin
This may not feel like the obvious choice for Carol, but she definitely portrays characteristics of a Slytherin. She’s the best, and she wants people to know it. She’s confident and clever, and she likes attention. We don’t know her very well yet, but from what we’ve seen, she seems to relish in the attention her efforts provide. She is good, helpful, and ambitious.
T’Challa/Black Panther- Hufflepuff
T’Challa is also driven by loyalty. But while he is protective of those he loves, his true loyalty is to Wakanda. He’s not king because of ambition, he’s king out of duty. Everything he does is through the lens of “what is best for Wakanda?” While it’s a bit unconventional, his loyalty to Wakanda characterizes him as a Hufflepuff.
Scott Lang/Ant-Man- Gryffindor
At first, it appears that Scott would be in Hufflepuff. After all, he is very motivated by his relationship with his daughter. But if he were truly 100% driven by that, he would have made different choices. He would not have betrayed Hope and Hank and teamed up with Captain America without their permission. He also would not have stolen from his company and landed in jail in the first place. But both of those above decisions do characterize him as a Gryffindor. He wants to be in the action, and he doesn’t always consider the consequences. Scott isn’t really looking for recognition and is not that ambitious, but he does want to be involved in the big events. He wants to help people, and he bravely faces battles. Sometimes without discretion.
Do you agree with our picks for these MCU characters in Hogwarts Houses? If not or if we’ve missed any out, leave us a comment below.
Check out our review of Black Widow HERE.
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