The title of the role sounds pretty innocuous but has the power to overtake the entire film. A supporting role is written from a point of view that it never overpowers the main. But at times, the writer gives a deeper depth and understanding to that supporting cast, which was just meant to stay on your screen for a little while, making it an integral part of the film. In fact, that role leaves such an impression on your mind that often you remember that particular character when you think of that film. But for someone to steal the spotlight from the protagonist, you require an actor of that calibre who becomes the real star. Today, we bring you 10 memorable supporting characters who shifted the focus on themselves from the lead in iconic films.
1. Christopher Walken, ‘The Deer Hunter’ (1978)
The movie, which is famous for Meryl Streep’s first Oscar nomination, also had Christopher Walken, whose performance was praised by the critics. Walken went on to win an Oscar for the Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Nick, a soldier who loses his memory in an accident during the Vietnam War. From there, Nick goes on to become an expert in Russian Roulette. A rather eccentric character that was played to perfection by Walken.
2. Gregory Peck, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (1962)
(c) Brentwood Production
Atticus Finch was named as the greatest movie hero of the 20th Century. What’s the surprising point here? Finch, played by Gregory Peck, wasn’t even the lead of the movie! He swept awards for the Best Actor in 1963, but in reality, the leads of the film were Finch’s kids, Scout and Jem. Finch in the movie is a lawyer, whose ideals demand that everyone is treated equally and that one must stand for what they believe in.
3. Robin Williams, ‘Good Will Hunting’ (1997)
(c) Lawrence Bender
Matt Damon played the lead in this soul-wrenching flick, however, the actor who stole both spotlight and hearts from the rest was supporting actor Robin Williams. His acting prowess as Dr. Sean Maguire, a psychology teacher who helped Will Hunting deal with the trauma of his abusive past, earned him an Academy Award for the Best Supporting Actor, and his performance earned plaudits from viewers.
4. J. K. Simmons, ‘Whiplash’ (2014)
As Terrence Fletcher, the ruthless jazz instructor who showed signs of being an abusive teacher with the desire to create brilliant musician through behaviour bordering on violence, Simmons won the Oscar for the Best Supporting Actor in 2015. Miles Teller played the lead actor in the movie but didn’t receive as much critical acclaim as that received by Simmons.
5. Daniel Bruhl, ‘Rush’ (2013)
Daniel Bruhl played the famous Formula One driver Niki Lauda in the sports action drama. While Chris Hemsworth, the lead actor was praised for his fine acting, Bruhl’s enactment of the pain Lauda went through post his brutal accident earned him applause from not only the critics, but the legendary Niki Lauda himself!
6. Jeff Bridges, ‘Hell or High Water’ (2016)
Maurice Hamilton’s display by Jeff Bridges garnered support from the critics and viewers as he went on to win the Academy Award for the Best Supporting Actor. His role as that of a police officer, who is on the verge of retiring but yet uses his experience to foil the robbers’ plans was engaging.
7. Jared Leto, ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ (2013)
(c) Voltage Pictures
Matthew McConaughey grabbed the world’s attention by winning the Academy Award for the Best Actor for Dallas Buyers Club. Despite this, it was Jared Leto who caught the attention of the critics with his stellar performance as Rayon, a transgender who’s suffering from HIV. The performance won him multiple awards, including the Academy Award for Supporting Actor.
8. Heath Ledger, ‘The Dark Knight’ (2014)
Who can forget the iconic Joker, played by Heath Ledger in what sadly turned out to be his final movie? ‘The Dark Knight’ introduced us to a darker, calculative Joker. One that was never seen in the earlier versions of the ‘Batman’. Ledger, who passed away later, was posthumously awarded the Academy Award for the Best Supporting Actor the following year.
9. Morgan Freeman, ‘Seven’ (1995)
(c) New Line Cinema
As a retiring detective, William Somerset, Morgan Freeman used all his experience to try and catch the criminal with the help of Brad Pitt in ‘Seven’. While it did well enough at the Box Office and was praised by the critics, Freeman’s effort was appreciated by all and earned him applause across viewers.
10. Kevin Spacey, ‘The Usual Suspects’ (1995)
(c) Germarcy Pictures
In the Bryan Singer-directed mystery, Kevin Spacey stood out with his performance, winning an Academy Award for the Best Supporting Actor. Playing the role of Roger “Verbal” Kint, Spacey managed to pull off the challenging role of a con-artist with cerebral palsy.