In Hollywood film industry, supporting cast is also given equal importance as the main lead in the film because the filmmakers believe that a film’s success depends on upon the overall contribution of each and every member of the unit. Hence, there are many occasions in the history of Hollywood where supporting actors or actresses were praised better than the main lead of the film.
Today, we are trying to honor some of the best supporting roles enacted by the finest actors in Hollywood, who over the years have proved that no role is big or small and it’s all about the passion for cinema and the actor’s expertise to bind the audience during his or her screen presence. While most of these actors never got their fair share of success as the main lead, they did leave their impact in all their movies and remained the film’s supporting pillars for the most part of their careers.
Before we move on the list, you must understand that the difference between Main Lead actors and Supporting Characters in a particular movie is not about seniority or popularity of the particular actor. Also, unlike Bollywood, Hollywood doesn’t discriminate between positive and negative characters and treats them equal as an integral part of the movie.
Hence, out and out negative character of the film could be the main lead in the movie while the main protagonist may play the supporting role. The only way the characters are classified into the main lead and supporting cast is by their screen time and most importantly, if the whole movie is weaved around a particular character leading the audience throughout the film, then that’s the central character of the film.
But, today it’s all about the supporting cast and how well some of these actors have played smaller but equally important characters on the big screen and successfully stole the limelight from the central character of the film.
We have sorted out some of the best supporting actors and actresses who actually stole the show from the main lead in their films. Check them out as below:
Best Supporting Actors Outshines Lead Characters
Brad Pitt as Jeffrey Goines – 12 Monkeys (1995)
You might be wondering how is Brad Pitt on the list! Well, 12 Monkeys was released in 1995 It was based on Time Travel when Brad Pitt was not a big star he is today and the film’s central character was played by Bruce Willis. However, the portrayal of Jeffrey Goines was so brilliantly done by the young Brad Pitt that the actor received praise and accolades from everywhere. Playing the role of a mental asylum patient, Brad Pitt enacts a brilliant display of madness throughout the film. However, as you go through the whole movie, you realize that the character is not just a supporting one but something of much more importance.
Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit-Girl – Kick-Ass (2010)
Kick-Ass is a 2010 black comedy superhero film that displays the fantasy of every teenage superhero fan and desires to become one to fight crimes. Although, the main lead of the film is played by Aaron Johnson as Dave Lizewski, the character of ruthless vigilante Hit-Girl played by Chloe Graze Moretz completely blows your mind. Whether it’s her fighting skills, scare-free attitude or wit, the Hit-girl will keep you glued to your seats while she is on the screen.
J.K. Simmons as Terence Fletcher – Whiplash (2014)
Whiplash is a 2014 film about the relationship of a young ambitious Jazz student, Andrew Neiman played by Miles Teller and his arrogant, abusive music teacher Terence Fletcher played by J.K. Simmons. The film is also about the triumph of Andrew towards his goal against the pressure and abuse of his master, yet the scenes displaying the anger of the music teacher keeps you intrigued throughout the movie as well as makes you feel for the main lead Andrew in the film. Owing to the depth and brilliant act by J.K. Simmons, he grabbed the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in the film.
Christopher Walken as Nick Chevotarevich – The Deer Hunter (1978)
The Deer Hunter is a 1978 epic war drama film that talks about the story of Russian-American steel workers in Pittsburgh during the Vietnam War. Although the movie has brilliant performances by actors like Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, John Savage and others, it’s the magnificent act by Christopher Walken in a scene where he plays Russian roulette in an iconic fashion, which over the time became the trademark sequence of this 1978 classic.
Edward Norton as Aaron Stampler – Primal Fear (1996)
Well, all the actors on the list have displayed great acting skills and impressed the audiences throughout their career; however nobody has matched to the brilliance of Edward Norton in their debut film. Norton plays the sociopath Aaron Stampler in the 1996 crime thriller Primal Fear, who is shown having multiple personality disorder due to the abuse he faced at the hands of his father. Owing to the demands of his character, it is very thrilling to see Norton switch between an easy going, stuttering Aaron Stampler and the evil, violent sociopath Roy. Besides his brilliant take on these two different characters, the film is even today recognized as the one with the most disturbing and most importantly surprising ending.
Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter – The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Anthony Hopkins is well-known for its versatile acting in various different avatars. However, his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter can give anybody a shiver through the spine as he plays the famous cannibal and serial killer in the American history. The finesse in his portrayal is so enticing that nobody can actually believe that he could be a serial killer but as the movie progresses and by each scene involving Hannibal Lecter, you realize how cruel and dangerous the man could be. Although he gets the screen space in 1/5th of the film, he makes a mark with his soft pitch voice and curious eyes.
Melissa McCarthy as Megan Price – Bridesmaids (2011)
Bridesmaids is a 2011 comedy film about two best friends, one of them is soon to be bride Lillian played by Maya Rudolph while the other is Annie Walker played by Kristen Wiig, who is asked to be her best friend’s Maid of Honor. Although the whole movie revolves around Annie Walker’s character’s personal life and her responsibilities as the Maid of Honor, there’s another character of Megan Price played by Melissa McCarthy that keeps you busy with her antics throughout the film. Despite being just another character in the film in support of the lead actors, McCarthy is successful in making her presence felt in this 2011 hit romantic comedy.
Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly – The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
The Devil Wears Prada is a comedy drama film starring Annie Hathaway in the lead roles as Andrea Sachs, an ambitious college graduate, who comes to New York with big dreams and starts her journey becoming the co-assistant of powerful fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly played by Meryl Streep. Although the movie is about Andrea, the ruthless and arrogant character of Miranda Priestly steals the show. The popularity of her performance can be determined from the fact that many such bossy women characters were based on Miranda Priestly.
Christian Bale as Dicky Eklund – The Fighter (2010)
If you have watched the 2010 biographical sports drama film The Fighter, then you must have also longed for a big brother like Dicky Eklund from the movie. Played by none other than our favorite Batman, Christian Bale, the character of Dicky is quite inspirational as he pushes his younger brother hard towards becoming the champion fighter he failed to be. The film is also interesting as it shows the relationship course of two brothers, how they bond, and then part ways and in the end gets united for a common cause. Bale received an Academy Award for his portrayal of the mentor brother in this 2010 sports drama. The Fighter is one of the Best Boxing Movies ever.
Heath Ledger as The Joker – The Dark Knight (2008)
If you are an avid Hollywood fan like me, then you must be wondering why is Heath Ledger’s Joker last on the list. Well, I just love to save the best for the last. Also, the character portrayal of The Joker by Heath Ledger deserves a special mention as well as a special tribute as this is one performance that left a mark in the history of cinema. The character of Joker has been played several times in the past but Heath Ledger gave a new dimension to this character. The persistent effort and dedication behind the preparation of this character was so intense that the actor went into depression and eventually committed suicide just after the film’s release. Despite his death, Heath Ledger was awarded the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor that year posthumously.
Also Read : Best Films of Nolan
Over to you!
Well, we have only picked up the list of those characters which outplayed the main lead of the show. However, there are chances that we might have missed your favorite pick in the list above. If that’s the case, then feel free to mention them in the comments section below.
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