15 Times Supporting Actors Stole The Show With Their Brilliant Acting

What distinguishes a superb movie from an okay one? Well, there are quite a few factors. Of course, a compelling plot, a satisfying cinematic experience, or a star actor who performs admirably in the film.
Every movie has a main character that the viewer is supposed to follow throughout the plot, but we often forget about the supporting characters who give the world of the main character more depth. But occasionally, there are times when the audience is drawn to those little characters, and they wind up stealing the show. Furthermore, you wouldn't have expected certain A-list actors to play these supporting roles, which can make it ten times more alluring.
It takes a fantastic performer to make secondary characters stand out in such a significant way, so when fans spot examples of this, it can be a tremendous joy. These supporting actors stole the show in lesser roles, whether it was because of a particularly humorous character, a hard-hitting performance with little screen time, or just a standout character. Read on to see who these talented actors are.

#1 Sigourney Weaver - 'The Cabin in the Woods'

Supporting Actor Steals The ShowSource: Lionsgate

In The Cabin in the Woods, the main characters learn that they are all being used as sacrifices in a macabre experiment in which a variety of terrifying animals are hunting them down. Like fish in a barrel, they are. Two of them escape the game near the end of the film, breaking into the underground control tower where everything is being controlled. They encounter "The Director," the person in command of the entire insane situation, at this point.
Finding the ideal candidate to fill this position was crucial. It had to be a certain caliber of actor who also had a well-known association with the horror subgenre. Sigourney Weaver was the ideal choice for the role, according to director Drew Goddard. She is adored by horror aficionados for her portrayal of Ellen Ripley in the four original Alien movies. She also possesses the acting talent to create The Director into a character we instantly recognize as a formidable force to be reckoned with. Weaver plays the unexpected part with a strong sense of authority, ensuring that the dramatic conclusion of The Cabin in the Woods has the appropriate impact.

#2 Gary Oldman - 'Hannibal'

Supporting Actor Steals The ShowSource: MGM

One of the most horrifying aspects of Hannibal is the appearance of the villain. Or perhaps we should say the faceless. The only victim of the infamous psychopath Hannibal Lecter still alive is Mason Verger (Anthony Hopkins). Verger managed to live, but the experience left him crippled and with a terribly damaged visage. He is now seeking retribution as a result.
Verger is finally revealed to us, but it's hard to determine who's portraying him. Gary Oldman is concealed beneath that makeup. Even though the actor may not be totally recognizable, his signature passion and propensity for playing characters that are notably out of the ordinary are present. This bitter man is very chilling in his hands.
IGN questioned Oldman about his decision to remain uncredited, and he responded, "We assumed that because I'm unofficially the man of many faces—you know, of Beethoven, Sid Vicious, Dracula, and Lee Harvey Oswald—that I would be—I'm playing the man without a face. So we simply played around with it a little. We believed it would be fantastic. He acts rather anonymously and has no face or name."

#3 Kevin Spacey - 'Seven'

Supporting Actor Steals The ShowSource: New Line Cinema

Following two detectives named Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and Mills (Brad Pitt), David Fincher's Seven centers on a serial killer who fashions his grandiose crimes after the Seven Deadly Sins. A shocked Kevin Spacey enters a police station and identifies himself as "John Doe," shocking both of them as well as the audience.
Seven does not give us a detailed introduction to the antagonist up front, in contrast to many films about psychopaths. We don't know who specifically they are looking for, just like with Somerset and Mills. Indicating Spacey's involvement in any of the promotional materials or the movie's opening credits would have given audiences a heads-up because they would have been waiting and expecting him to appear. By keeping him out of it all, viewers may virtually feel the detectives' surprise.
The best way to express it, in Spacey's own words, was for Total Film to quote him as saying, "I'd just done Swimming with Sharks, The Usual Suspects, and Outbreak, a big Warner Bros movie. I knew that if any of those Movies did well, my profile would be... different. How would that affect my billing in Seven? If I'm the third-billed actor in a movie where the top two billings are trying to find somebody and they don't find that somebody until the last reel, then it's obvious who that somebody is."

#4 Matt Damon - 'Interstellar'

Supporting Actor Steals The ShowSource: Warner Bros. Pictures

When Matt Damon appeared in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, audiences were astounded. He portrays Dr. Mann, a marooned astronaut who is willing to undermine Cooper's mission in order to save himself (Matthew McConaughey). A star of Damon's stature would often be the center of attention, yet he received no credit, was not seen in the film's trailers, and skipped the promotional tour.
The intention was to deceive audiences, which explains why this happened. Damon has a well-deserved reputation for taking on heroic or good-guy roles. His character in Interstellar isn't necessarily malicious, but he's stressed out enough to act murderous and self-serving. Nolan anticipated that viewers wouldn't think that, adding drama to Mann's actions. The filmmaker remarked, "I adore the notion that when people see him, they immediately think, "Oh, it's Matt Damon." It will be all right."

#5 Bill Murray - 'Kingpin'

Supporting Actor Steals The ShowSource: MGM

In the early 1990s, Bill Murray starred in a number of blockbuster films, including Groundhog Day and What About Bob? The fact that he played a minor part in Kingpin, a 1996 bowling comedy directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly of Dumb & Dumber fame, caught everyone off guard. He portrays Ernie McCracken, a professional bowler who accidentally loses Roy Munson's hand (Woody Harrelson) hand during a botched hustle.
Due in large part to the fact that the majority of Kingpin is about Munson and an Amish genius (Randy Quaid) that he fosters, Murray was referenced in advertisements but was not given much attention. Murray's character vanishes after the first few minutes, only to reappear in the final act when Munson competes in a championship match and faces off against his former foe.
The Caddyshack actor reportedly accepted the position on a whim. The Farrelly Brothers believed it would be difficult to cast him in the supporting part, but Quaid offered to get in touch with him because he had collaborated with him on Quick Change. Indeed, three weeks later, Murray showed up on the set, delightfully improvised all of his lines, and had the audience in fits of laughter due to McCracken's terrible combover.

#6 Tom Cruise - 'Tropic Thunder'

Supporting Actor Steals The ShowSource: DreamWorks Pictures

In the early 1990s, Ben Stiller made a Tom Cruise impersonation on his Fox sketch comedy program. Cruise joined the cast of Stiller's Tropic Thunder as Les Grossman, a vulgar, balding movie studio head with a surprising fondness for hip-hop dancing, so it seems he didn't take it too personally.
To be very honest, the actor at the moment needed a public image makeover. He had gotten a lot of bad press for things like famously jumping on Oprah Winfrey's couch, making contentious Scientology claims (like criticizing Brooke Shields for taking psychiatric medication to treat postpartum depression), and losing his production deal with Paramount, which was his previous employer. His comeback part was kept a surprise because trumpeting his appearance in the movie would have turned off certain viewers.
Many ticket buyers didn't realize it was him until his name appeared in the end credits because it was impossible to recognize him behind the makeup and bulky outfit as it was. However, Cruise as Grossman was the star of every scene he was in.

#7 Henry Winkler - 'Scream'

Supporting Actor Steals The ShowSource: Dimension Films

Henry Winkler has always dabbled in the film while being most recognized for his work in television. Nobody expected to discover Wes Craven in the horror film genre when he created the original Scream. Winkler portrays Principal Himbry, who is hacked to pieces in his office by the Ghostface, a killer in a mask.
Aside from the shock of seeing "the Fonz" in a slasher movie, moviegoers were blown away by the actor's appearance since it isn't just a goofy pop culture cameo as it first appears to be. Winkler is there to become one of Ghostface's first marks, not to carry the torch to the next group of teen idols. No one in their right mind anticipated seeing Henry Winkler in a role like that, so Himbry's brutal demise carries a punch. The incident then developed into one of the most recognizable "kills" in the whole Scream series.
When the producers decided to concentrate on the younger cast members instead, Winkler consented to forego an on-screen credit.

#8 Jason Statham - 'Spy'

Supporting Actor Steals The ShowSource: 20th Century Fox

Although it wasn't a secret that Jason Statham starred in Spy, most promotional materials kept his specific role in the movie a mystery. After all, he was an A-list action star who nearly always starred in gritty productions. His fighting scenes were highlighted in the trailer's shots, maybe to balance out Melissa McCarthy's secret agent character's lack of skill. He appeared to be playing a brief cameo supporting part as a joke.
When they saw Spy, they discovered something startling: Jason Statham is hilarious. The actor plays a role that is much more than just a cameo; he is a whole character and a humorous one at that. With a sardonic spin on his tough-guy persona, Statham can demonstrate a sense of humor that he hasn't often been able to do on-screen. His unexpected comedy abilities received acclaim from both critics and viewers.
He explained to USA Today why he chose to play second banana than being the star of his own film: "I don't always go toward the comedy subgenre. I've never really had the chance to engage in something like that. Yes, I have, although many of the scripts aren't all that excellent. As a result, the game modifies a little bit when you acquire something from (writer/director) Paul Feig."

#9 Will Ferrell - 'Wedding Crashers'

Supporting Actor Steals The ShowSource: New Line Cinema

John and Jeremy (Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, respectively) keep mentioning "Chazz Reinhold" throughout Wedding Crashers. When it comes to showing up uninvited and leaving with a woman on his arm, Chazz is reputed to be the consummate wedding crasher. He is an example of our hero. When the story is at its lowest point, John seeks advice from Chazz, only to find him to be a destitute, pitiful character who lives with his mother and shows up to funerals rather than weddings.
Will Ferrell fit the bill for the lengthy appearance that director David Dobkin was looking for? His name and appearance were omitted from all promotional materials in order to prevent giving away to the public that the Anchorman comedian was in Wedding Crashers. Despite this, test audiences saw a problem as soon as the scene started. Dobkin said, "The craziest thing happened, which is that when Will comes walking down those steps as Chazz, you cannot see him, and there [was] an audible reaction of people starting to laugh and have this reaction to the character before you even see that it's Will. I can never explain it, and I remember showing it to Owen later and being like, 'How do they know? What is it that they think is about to happen here?'"

#10 Emma Watson - 'This is the End'

Supporting Actor Steals The ShowSource: Columbia Pictures

A group of comedians is confronted with the literal end of the world in the comedy This Is the End. Starring in it are Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, and Seth Rogen. Numerous other well-known figures make brief appearances at first, only to perish in hysterically bizarre ways once the end of the world arrives.
The lads learn midway through the movie that Emma Watson, who played Ron Weasley in Harry Potter, has also managed to survive. The female then takes on a crucial supporting role in the traditionally male-centric narrative, providing Rogen and the company with a surprising character with whom to interact. Despite not having a reputation for humor, Watson more than holds her own against her humorous co-stars, delivering a lot of smart lines and verbal jabs like it's nothing out of the ordinary. The part gave her a completely different perspective while also allowing her to make fun of the spotless reputation she developed while portraying Hermione Granger for such a long time.

#11 Robin Williams - 'Dead Again'

Supporting Actor Steals The ShowSource: Paramount Pictures

In the movie Dead Again, Kenneth Branagh plays a private eye named Mike Church who tries to assist Grace, who has amnesia (Emma Thompson). She has been seeing images of a past life in which her spouse killed her. Early on, Dr. Cozy Carlisle, a discredited psychiatrist who now works as a stock boy in a grocery store, offers advice to Mike and Grace. He tells Grace to keep hypnotizing herself since it might help her remember the trauma that triggered her memory loss.
Robin Williams himself played the role of Dr. Carlisle. If it was shocking to see the well-known comic appear in a spooky thriller, that was the point. The sequence with Carlisle essentially sets up everything that occurs in the rest of the movie because of the advice he gives. Branagh, who also served as the director, needed someone to ensure that the audience was alert and focused. Williams undoubtedly accomplished that by giving the persona a Peter Lorre-like air.

#12 Edward Norton - 'Kingdom of Heaven'

Supporting Actor Steals The ShowSource: 20th Century Fox

Edward Norton portrays King Baldwin, the king of Jerusalem who suffers from leprosy, in Ridley Scott's epic Kingdom of Heaven. King Baldwin wears a mask since his illness has left him with deformed facial features. Norton made the decision to leave his name off the credits, despite the fact that it would have drawn viewers given his fascinating character.
He did so because he felt that keeping his involvement a secret would help to make the story more mysterious. He clarified, "Because Orlando Bloom's character constantly hearing about him, I didn't want to be billed. There is this apprehension and great mystery about him. It's the whole point."
Norton had good intuition. People would have known what to anticipate if they had known who was going to play King Baldwin in advance. Without such information, we are left wondering how this much-discussed figure will act when he finally sees and, more importantly, hears, the enigmatic monarch.

#13 Melissa McCarthy - 'Central Intelligence'

Darla McGuckianSource: Warner Bros.

The comedy Central Intelligence is about spies, but it's also about how people from your past can have an impact on you even after they've left your life. Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson play former friends from high school who reconcile after the latter forces the former to participate in a risky CIA assignment.
Throughout the movie, it is revealed that Darla McGuckian, a classmate, was the object of Johnson's character's intense teenage crush. When the conclusion, which is set at the protagonists' high school reunion, rolls around, we don't necessarily expect to see this character on screen. Melissa McCarthy appears out of nowhere to take up the part. One of the comedic high points of Central Intelligence is her overly passionate kiss with Johnson, but the sincerity with which she portrays Darla also finishes the film on a note of sweetness, providing Johnson's character the validation he's long craved.

#14 Robert De Niro - 'American Hustle'

Supporting Actor Steals The ShowSource: Sony Pictures Releasing

The movie American Hustle boasted of starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams. A fifth famous performer, whose brief appearance in the movie was kept a secret, did appear, though. Victor Tellegio, a mobster who speaks Arabic, is portrayed by Robert De Niro.
Of course, the actor had previously performed brilliantly in a wise role, but this role was unique. "He appreciated the fact that this individual spoke Arabic," director David O. Russell said, "which just so happens to be one of the real things in the story. There was a mobster who spoke Arabic, but the truth is stranger than fiction. A group of gangsters served as the inspiration for [Tellegio]. De Niro put a lot of effort into carefully developing this character. He desired to carry out an endeavor that was novel for him.
The possibility for spectators to naturally witness De Niro take on a recognizable sort of character and tackle it in a completely fresh way was preserved by keeping the actor's part a secret.

#15 Chevy Chase - 'Hero'

Supporting Actor Steals The ShowSource: Columbia Pictures

The characters in Stephen Frears' parody Hero from 1992 include a jerk (Dustin Hoffman) who saves a group of survivors of an aircraft crash, the erroneous hero (Andy Garcia) and a TV reporter (Geena Davis) who is trying to find out the truth. In a supporting role, comedian Chevy Chase plays Davis's employer, Deke, a shouting, suspender-clad J. Jonah Jameson type.
Chase was well-known at the time for big-budget physical comedies like Fletch and the Vacation movies. He told biographer Rena Fruchter that he took the small part because he wanted to try a different acting style. He even changed the way he looked by putting his hair in a backward ponytail because "I didn't want to look like Chevy Chase." The actor asked to remain uncredited to save his fans the disappointment of anticipating the type of humor for which he was well-known in Hero.
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