7 Actors Who Showed Up For A Single Scene, Then Stole Lightning Of The Movie

Just getting cast in one scene may be a lot of work. Not only do these roles have to compete with the protagonist's development, but the one-scene wonder is usually meant to advance the plot and provide some dazzling spectacle. If it weren't done right, viewers might forget they were in the film. However, these moments can become project highlights or historical adds if executed properly.
The criteria for inclusion on the list are straightforward: a performer must steal the show in just one scene and disappear forever. In this way, great performances from films like Almost Famous (2000) starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) starring Matthew McConaughey, in which each actor only had a few moments, can not survive the chopping block. Even so, plenty of short films may make us cry, laugh, or scratch our heads in astonishment after just a single viewing.

1. Bill Murray - Zombieland (2009)

Actors Who Showed Up For A Single Scene, Bill Murray - ZombielandSource: Zombieland

To put it bluntly, Bill Murray is such a great actor that he ends up dead by his hand in Zombieland (2009). Technically, Ghostbusters' Jesse Eisenberg shoots him in the head with a shotgun, but that's only because Eisenberg was so convincing as a zombie.
This protracted cameo couldn't have been delivered better by anybody else, yet he was reportedly brought on after a long list of A-listers (including Patrick Swayze) declined. The scene's humor centers on Murray's deadpan delivery, and he shines in part he was born to portray.

2. Adrien Brody - Midnight in Paris (2011)

Actors Who Showed Up For A Single Scene, Adrien Brody - Midnight in ParisSource: Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris, a 2011 film directed by Woody Allen, is a visual treat. The director's homage to the past is one of his finest works, thanks to the meticulous attention to detail and the excellence of the ensemble.
The performances of Corey Stoll as Hemingway, Tom Hiddleston as Fitzgerald, and Marcial Di Fonzo Bo as Picasso are all highlights of Midnight. Still, Adrien Brody's Dal is the most intriguing character. Dal's encounter with modern man Gil Pender allows him to officially join the list, even though he was technically spotted at a party earlier in the film.

3. Vanessa Redgrave - Atonement (2007)

Actors Who Showed Up For A Single Scene, Vanessa Redgrave - AtonementSource: Atonement

Atonement, Joe Wright's 2007 romantic drama, is awash with nostalgic flashbacks. Through the perspective of a naive young writer, we learn of the sad love affair between a working-class guy (James McAvoy) and an upper-class woman (Keira Knightley) (Saoirse Ronan). However, the story is not as straightforward as the premise would lead you to believe; the lines between fact and fiction blur, and the shifting viewpoints build to a very unsettling climax.

4. James Badge Dale - Flight (2010)

Actors Who Showed Up For A Single Scene, James Badge Dale - FlightSource: Flight

Flight's script from 2012 referred to James Badge Dale as a "gaunt young man." Despite being technically accurate, it does a great disservice to his brilliant work in this one sequence. While coping with the side effects of cancer and chemotherapy, the protagonist meets a scarred pilot (Denzel Washington) and a fellow patient (Kelly Reilly) in the hospital stairwell. Nonetheless, the upbeat character takes a puff from a borrowed cigarette and then spouts a stream of consciousness that leaves his fellow actors and the audience speechless.

5. Christopher Walken - Pulp Fiction (1994)

Actors Who Showed Up For A Single Scene, Christopher Walken - Pulp FictionSource: Pulp Fiction

Professionally speaking, Christopher Walken is a "one-scene wonder." He has mastered the art of the cameo from his earliest days on, as evidenced by his appearances in films like Annie Hall (1977) and True Romance (1993), and this is most clearly on display in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994). Walken reteams with the writer-director for the weirdest and most uplifting wristwatch yarn ever put to film, and he is given a lengthy monologue to deliver in one take.

6. Viola Davis - Doubt (2008)

Actors Who Showed Up For A Single Scene, Viola Davis - DoubtSource: Doubt

All of the actors in Doubt (2008) put up a master class in dramatic performance. The 28 Oscar nominations earned by Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams fuel the film's contentious plot. But it is Viola Davis, in an extremely brief eight-minute sequence, it is Viola Davis who not only steals the show but also hits at the heart of this heartbreaking story. Davis co-stars with Streeter's Sister Aloysius, a nun who tells Mrs. Miller that her son may or may not be the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of the parish priest.

7. Alec Baldwin - Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Actors Who Showed Up For A Single SceneSource: Glengarry Glen Ross

Alec Baldwin has only ever been consistently great for brief periods. He's a character actor stuck in a leading man's physique, and his best performances require his being overbearingly bold or loud. David Mamet recognized Baldwin's potential and wrote a whole sequence about him dropping by to inspire the sales team in his stage adaptation of Glengarry Glen Ross. Just seven minutes in, it's already the most impressive single act.
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