Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Memorable Supporting Actor Performances We Love

When we think of our favorite movies, we usually remember the main characters and the actors who play them. It makes sense because they are the ones that get the most screen time and the stories revolve around them. 

But every once in a while there is a performance by one of the supporting characters that is so special that he or she steals the show. Sometimes even a minor character can be memorable. Here are few performances from those who were not the main characters, but became favorites nevertheless!


Emily Watson in Miss Potter, playing Millie Warne. In fairness, this is probably considered a starring role, but she wasn't one of the headline characters. In a departure from the serious roles Emily often plays, in Miss Potter, she's a quirky sister/best friend. She is so completely charming and likable that sometimes I watch the movie when I see it on the cable channels just to see her performance. 

Emily Blunt in The Devil Wears Prada, playing Emily. This is a supporting role, but for me she stole the movie, which is a considerable achievement since Meryl Streep is one of the main characters. And Emily is playing a character who isn't particularly likable. She's snobbish and rude. But she does a great job of making the character three-dimensional, so that by the end of the film, you like her as much as you don't like her. 

Burghart Klaussner in Bridge of Spies, playing Harald Ott. This is a very small role and I'm not even familiar with the actor. But his performance as a Russian bureaucrat is so nuanced that I remember it even though it's only a small part of the film. It's a scene where he's supposed to answer a phone but he picks up the wrong one. His reaction is so realistically awkward that I will never forget it. In a film filled with great performances from a lot of amazing actors, I was surprised to find myself drawn to a small role played by someone I had never seen before!


John C. Reilly in Chicago. He's the last actor I'd think of to cast in a singing role—let alone playing the sympathetic "cellophane man." He's usually cast as someone who's run afoul of the law in some way. I've always loved his acting. 

Helen Mirren in Gosford Park. In my view, any movie is elevated by having Helen Mirren in it. That said, here she plays the head housekeeper in Gosford Park—the "upstairs/downstairs" predecessor to Downton Abbey. Mirren's acting is sharp and precise, and I never fail to cry along with her in a climactic scene toward the end of the movie.

Hugh Grant in Sense and Sensibility. To me, Hugh Grant played Edward Ferrars (Elinor's love interest) as Jane Austen envisioned him. Quite a feat—partly because the starched-shirt Edward isn't anything like the Hugh Grant we've grown accustomed to in the movies. 

Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine—playing Cate Blanchett's sister. 
Sally Hawkins is one of my favorite actresses, from her excellent portrayal of Anne Elliot in Jane Austen's Persuasion, to being nominated for Best Actress as the star of Happy-Go-Lucky, to this movie where she plays an American working-class woman in San Francisco, trying to make a go of it.

I see that three of my four choices are British. I do love British actors and actresses (including Emily Watson, mentioned above by Mara). I must see Miss Potter!

Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars in "Sense and Sensibility"

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