10 Best Movies Where The Supporting Actor Steals The Show

Split image showing Patsey, Sgt Hartman and Hannibal Lecter

Ordinarily, lead actors are expected to carry most of the movie’s weight and impress audiences more than most other cast members. However, there have been a couple of occasions where the actor whose character was meant to help out ended up being the best part of the motion picture.

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Several factors contribute to a supporting actor performing better than the lead. These range from the talent of the person cast to the actor being given better material to work with. So, which are some of the movies where the best-paid actor was outclassed?

On the subject of 12 Years A Slave, sensitive subject matter is discussed about the plot. Please proceed with caution.

10 Robert De Niro Is Legendary As A Younger Version Of Vito Corleone

The Godfather Part II

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The Vito Corleone character is a major reason why installments of The Godfather trilogy are all considered some of the best-made gangster movies, and even though Marlon Brando has his fingerprints all over the character in the first movie, De Niro does even better in the sequel. Through the younger Vito, f to see how the Corleone crime family was formed in the early 1900s.

While Al Pacino has some incredible lines as the main character, Michael Corleone, his scenes don’t bring about as much excitement as those of Vito. From assassinating Don Fanucci to starting the Genco Pura oil importation as a front, a twenty-something-year-old Vito heavily puts in work, and De Niro brilliantly brings out the character’s enthusiasm and relentlessness while he is at it.

9 Lupita Nyong’o’s Patsey Remains Strong Despite The Oppression

12 Years A Slave

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Patsey cries after being whipped 12 Years A Slave

Nyong’o’s performance still awes fans to this day because her character only appears for less than 10 minutes in a movie that runs for over 2 hours, yet she puts a permanent stamp on the proceedings. Add the fact that this was Nyongo’s first appearance in a Hollywood movie, and there’s even more reason for applause.

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Like many revered movie characters, Nyongo’s performance is defined by one scene. In it, she urges her slave master to keep whipping her. Apart from slavery, the theme of sexual abuse gets dissected through her characters, leaving audiences both enraged and relieved that such a dark era has now passed.

8 Javier Bardem Is In Top Form As The Villain, Anton Chigurgh

No Country For Old Men

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Anton Chigurh smiles as a paratrooper in No country for old men

Javier Bardem is more known for making one of the most thought-provoking villain speeches in Skyfall, but his incredible performance in No Country For Old Men made him easily land a Bond role. In the Coen Brothers movie, Bardem overshadows Josh Brolin by perfectly projecting the stern and sadistic nature of the hitman, Anton Chigurgh.

Unlike other villains that prefer toying with words, Bardem’s character is economical with them, preferring to inflict pain than engage in endless chatter. As such, the actor’s skills are best seen through his facial expression, specifically his smile and poise. Additionally, Chigurgh’s preference for using a captive bolt pistol makes him seem quite badass.

7 Eva Marie Saint Creates The Template For Bond Girls

North By Northwest

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Eve seduces Thornhill in a train in North By Northwest

A good number of the greatest Bond girls have borrowed a thing from Eva Marie’s character in the Alfred Hitchcock espionage movie North By Northwest. After all, the movie came out a few years before the first Bond project, Dr. No, was made.

As the spy Eve Kendall, Marie Saint outperforms Hollywood’s golden boy, Cary Grant, whose character she is tasked with seducing. Like Vesper Lynd or Madeleine Swann, Kendall is more than a damsel in stress. She is ever steps ahead of everyone she associates with and never fails to figure out a way to get herself out of danger. The well-executed seduction sequence inside the Chicago train is also something not even Bond girls can match.

6 Tommy DeVito Remains Joe Pesci’s Greatest Character


<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>“I’m Funny How, Funny Like A Clown?” quote by Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas

In Goodfellas, Joe Pesci’s character, Tommy DeVito, is not only not a “made man” (mafia member that has taken the Cosa Nostra oath) but also dies way before the credits start rolling. Despite this, he remains the most talked-about among the movie’s long list of gangsters.

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Part of this has to do with Pesci’s tense “Funny how?” scene, where he intimidates the main character, Henry Hill, for labeling him a funny person. Even more remarkable is that Pesci actually improvised most of the dialogue in the scene. On top of that, Tommy DeVito’s death is so brutal that it remains engraved in the minds of audiences for a long time.

5 R. Lee Ermey Is A Recruit’s Worst Nightmare As Sgt. Hartman

Full Metal Jacket

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Sgt Hartman yells at recruits in Full Metal Jacket

Having previously served as a military drill instructor in real-life, Ermey couldn’t have landed a better role than Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket. The character appears in the first part of the movie as the officer tasked with training recruits at a boot camp before a mission in Vietnam.

Hartman takes every opportunity he can to terrify the junior officers. As he is busy barking and ridiculing, audiences can’t help but get the feeling that Ermey is actually playing himself. While his death at the hands of a recruit is the ideal punishment for his meanness, the second half of the movie ends up boring without him.

4 Dwayne Johnson’s Luke Hobbs Changes The Franchise For The Better

Fast Five

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson's characters square it off in Fast Five

Fast Five is not only when the Fast & Furious franchise truly gets good but also when Dwayne Johnson’s career begins to skyrocket. The actor brings some life into the proceedings thanks to his role as the DSS agent Luke Hobbs, who has to stop Dominic Toretto and his crew.

Thanks to Johnson’s appearance, Vin Diesel gets competition for the muscular tough guy spot which only he had held before. He is good here too, but Dwayne Johnson dazzles more because he is granted better action sequences and dialogue. His physique makes him command every scene he is in too.

3 Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Keeps Tormenting The Protagonist

Silence Of The Lambs

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Hannibal Lecter speaks from his prison cell in Silence of the Lambs

The image of Dr. Hannibal Lecter smiling is one that fans of all genres are familiar with, but it’s Anthony Hopkins’ performance that truly makes the character iconic. No other would have arguably made a better Hannibal since the actor’s voice is fitting for the character that never seems to worry at all despite being locked up.

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What’s more impressive about the villain is that his appeal is based on legend than action. Audiences barely see him commit any of the murders he has been locked up for. Instead, they only learn how long his streak has been through dialogue. Hopkins’ choice of words, coupled with how he intimidates the protagonist, makes it easy for audiences to root for him.

2 Christoph Waltz Is Ruthless And Cunning As A Third Reich Official

Inglorious Basterds

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Hans Landa sitting at a table in the opening scene from Inglorious Basterds

Hollywood late-bloomer Christopher Waltz gets to prove his mettle in the alternate history movie, Inglorious Basterds, where he stars as a high-ranking Nazi officer tasked with capturing Jews in France. And right from the opening scene, it’s clear that his performance will be flawless.

While Brad Pitt’s character is the stereotypical guerilla fighter out for blood, Waltz’s Colonel Hans Landa dishes out a couple of incredible monologues and is a better decision-maker than everyone else. He is so intelligent that he even makes a deal with the Basterds to spare his life at the end of the money, despite having a long list of atrocities.

1 Heath Ledger’s Posthumous Oscar Sums Up His Performance

The Dark Knight

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>The Dark Knight - Heath Ledger as the Joker holding up the Joker playing card

Heath Ledger’s unexpected death still hurts DC fans, as he would have undoubtedly continued as the Joker for years to come. Too big are his shoes that other actors who have played the character ever since have found it hard to fill them.

In The Dark Knight, Batman gets overshadowed in his own movie as the Joker bosses the proceedings in all the key scenes and comes up with some of the greatest superhero movie quotes. Ledger also gets the Joker’s laughter and tone right, making sure the villain is as menacing as fans have always known him to be.

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