Monday, October 13, 2008

Hollywood's Greatest Character Actors and Actresses


They played the best friends or parents of the handsome hero or glamorous heroine, their loyal sidekicks, the bystanders making wry comments and wisecracking from the sidelines. In romantic films and musicals they might play the humorous second leads, the kind of roles that Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers played in their first movies together. In more serious movies they were the slimy villains menacing the hero or heroine. They could be eccentric, flamboyant, or even insane. No matter what role they played, no matter what the movie, their character didn't vary a great deal from film to film. From their first appearance on screen, you knew exactly what to expect. These were the character actors and actresses of the American studio movies of the 1930's, 40's, and 50's.

The roles they played correspond to what E. M. Forster in Aspects of the Novel calls "flat characters" in literature: "Flat characters [are] called 'humorous' . . . and are sometimes called types, and sometimes caricatures. In their purest form, they are constructed around a single idea or quality." Forster goes on to describe how "they are easily recognized when they come in . . . and easily remembered . . . afterwards." Shakespeare's comedies and even some of the tragedies are rich in such characters—Falstaff, the nurse in Romeo and Juliet, the pompous Polonius in Hamlet, Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night—as are the works of Dickens. Mr. Micawber (David Copperfield), Miss Havisham (Great Expectations), Smallweed (Bleak House), Sairey Gamp (Martin Chuzzlewit)—the novels of Dickens are largely populated by flat characters. Similarly, the character actors of the classic American cinema also represent types with a single easily identifiable personality trait, and they too are easily recognized and easily remembered.

The great character actors were more often than not middle-aged or older. Occasionally starring actors would become character actors as they aged, but most often the great character actors started out as such and remained that way for their entire career. Their task was to lend support and, with their unambiguous and more colorful and oversized personalities—the kind of character that is most effective in small doses—supply contrast to the often younger and more attractive stars of the picture.

In recognition of their importance to the industry and their popularity with moviegoers, in 1936 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences created two new award categories, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. For the most part the people nominated in these categories were character actors performing in character roles. The list of nominees and winners from 1936 to 1960, roughly the end of the studio system, reads like a Who's Who of Hollywood's greatest character actors.

These performers were largely a product of the Hollywood studio system. Under contract to one studio, they often made several pictures a year. Typecasting was the rule for these performers. Once the studio's casting directors found a successful niche for the character actor, one that resonated with audiences, the character actor generally found himself or herself playing the same kind of role in the same movie genre in film after film. Why tamper with a successful formula? was the tenet that drove the career of the perennial studio character actor. Powerful directors like Frank Capra, Howard Hawks, John Ford, and Preston Sturges assembled what amounted to their own repertory company of character actors and used them in one movie after another.

Because they were so closely linked with the Hollywood studio system, the end of the era of the career character actor coincided with the decline of the studios in the early 1960's. Too, the increase in sex and violence in the American movies of the 1960's, the blurring of the once clearly delineated boundaries between the traditional movie genres, and the desire of American filmmakers to emulate the more adult and overtly artistic films of Europe made the type of movie that required character actors seem old-fashioned and outdated. Their kind of movie no longer appealed to younger and hipper audiences.

This was especially true of the movie comedy, the genre that gave these performers the bulk of their work. Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot (1959) and One, Two, Three (1961) and the Doris Day movies of the early 1960's were some of the last American movies that were out-and-out comedies untinged with melancholia or serious undertones, the kind of movie that the great character actors were best suited to. The old style of movie comedy seemed effete and anachronistic compared to the darker comic sensibility of films like Dr. Strangelove (1964), The Graduate (1967), or MASH (1970), with their trenchant social and political satire, frank approach to sex, and flippant black humor.

In the 1950's the great character actors who once populated the studio genre movies began to turn to television, where their type of role and acting style were still the norm. By the end of the 1960's the migration to television was nearly universal for those still working.

Taking their place in feature films was a new generation of supporting performers. These actors were comfortable in both supporting and lead roles and did not approach the two types of role differently. They applied the same serious and professional approach to both lead and supporting parts, made determined efforts to avoid typecasting, and attempted to give contours and depth to every role whether large or small.

What follows is a set of personal lists of my own favorite character actors and actresses, both classic and contemporary, along with a favorite role for each, indicated by a *.

CLASSIC CHARACTER ACTORS
  1. Walter Brennan. The quintessential character actor, he appeared in more than 200 feature films (many of his earliest performances uncredited) and worked with some of the major directors, including Howard Hawks (in six films), John Ford, Frank Capra, William Wyler, Fritz Lang, and Jean Renoir. He even appeared in an Astaire-Rogers movie (The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, 1939). *The Westerner (1940), as the notorious Judge Roy Bean, successfully combining his usual cheerful folksiness with psychotic megalomania.
  2. Charles Coburn. He made a career of being irascible but lovable. Although he played many dramatic roles, it was in his comedy roles that he really shone. *The More the Merrier (1943), as the mischievous matchmaker Benjamin Dingle.
  3. George Sanders. He was typically unctuous and disreputable, the embodiment of the scurrilous scoundrel . *The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), in which he played a character clearly modeled on Oscar Wilde himself and spouted witticisms taken directly from The Importance of Being Earnest.
  4. Claude Rains. The most versatile of the lot and possibly the most gifted. *Notorious (1946), in which he was quietly menacing but ultimately pathetic.
  5. Frank Morgan. An MGM contract player, he got the part of The Wizard of Oz after W. C. Fields turned it down. *The Shop Around the Corner (1940), as the comically overwrought and suicidal owner of the store where James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan worked.
  6. Robert Ryan. He was one of the character actors who specialized in sinister roles, and his evil was most convincing. *The Naked Spur (1953), as James Stewart's nemesis.
  7. Arthur Kennedy. He could play victims or villains and was equally effective in both modes. *Champion (1949), as the devoted kid brother betrayed by the ruthlessly ambitious Kirk Douglas.
  8. William Demarest. An expert at expressing comic frustration and stubbornness, he made humorlessness seem funny. *The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944), the most memorable of his eight performances for Preston Sturges.
  9. Barry Fitzgerald. The master of Irish blarney, which in Going My Way (1944) reached its fullest expression and earned him an Oscar. *The Naked City (1949), the police procedural/film noir in which he gave one of the least typical performances of his career—and perhaps the most interesting—as the lead detective investigating a murder.
  10. Tony Randall. The poor man's Jack Lemmon, he became best known for assuming Lemmon's film role as the fussy Felix in the TV sitcom version of The Odd Couple. In feature films he was most memorable as Rock Hudson's foil in three Hudson-Doris Day movies. *Lover Come Back (1961), in which he played Hudson's boss and his rival for Day.
MODERN CHARACTER ACTORS
  1. Dennis Hopper. More often nutty than normal, he can be one scary dude. *Blue Velvet (1986), in which he gave an unforgettable performance as the drug-sniffing, psychotic, mommie-obsessed criminal Frank Booth, a character over-the-top even for a David Lynch movie.
  2. Tommy Lee Jones. How can somebody so down-to-earth be such a great character actor? It must have something to do with his intensity and focus and with the feeling that the characters he plays conceal nothing: What you see is what you get. *No Country for Old Men (2007), as the stoical sheriff who just can't understand the sociopathic modern criminal.
  3. Tom Wilkinson. Another actor of great versatility. But like Tommy Lee Jones he's best at playing it sincere. *The Full Monty (1997), as the former factory manager who reluctantly becomes the head of a troupe of male strippers.
  4. Steve Buscemi. He can play a great range of types, but he puts his distinctive stamp on every role. *Ghost World (2000), as the lonely, record-collecting oddball Seymour.
  5. Morgan Freeman. Adept at playing characters of great sincerity, integrity, and gravitas. *Se7en (1996), as the no-nonsense police detective pursuing a psycho killer with Brad Pitt.
CLASSIC CHARACTER ACTRESSES
  1. Thelma Ritter. I once devoted an entire post to Thelma Ritter titled "The Greatest Character Actress." *Pickup on South Street (1953), one of her rare serious parts, as the fatalistic and doomed Moe, a small-time street peddler and police informant.
  2. Agnes Moorhead. She was as cold as the snow outside the window in her debut in Citizen Kane (1941) and on fire as the neurotic Aunt Fanny in her follow-up role in Welles's The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). In the next 30 years she successfully played everything in between. *All That Heaven Allows (1955), as Jane Wyman's loyal friend and confidante.
  3. Eve Arden. The self-sufficient strength of her characters was masked by wry asides and arch wisecracks. And nobody cracked wise better than Eve Arden. *Mildred Pierce (1945), as the troubled Joan Crawford's steadfast friend.
  4. Mary Astor. She could play good or bad, selfless or self-centered, erotic or maternal with equal conviction. *The Maltese Falcon (1941), as Brigid O'Shaughnessy, the archetypal femme fatale of film noir.
  5. Dame May Whitty. The embodiment of the genteel British dowager. *Night Must Fall (1937), as the rich, crotchety old lady manipulated by smooth-talking Robert Montgomery, a psycho killer who carried his victim's severed head around in a hatbox.
  6. Angela Lansbury. She was sassy and flirtatious as the teenaged maid in Gaslight (1944) and touchingly fragile singing "Yellow Bird" in The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945). By the late 1940's she was playing middle-aged women while still in her early 20's. *The Manchurian Candidate (1962), as the most unwholesomely possessive mother ever to appear on the screen.
  7. Elsa Lanchester. She was equally at ease playing normal or eccentric, but nobody did eccentric like Lanchester. *The Big Clock (1948)—one of a dozen movies in which she appeared with her husband, Charles Laughton—in which she made a big impression with very little screen time as a flighty, temperamental artist.
  8. Ethel Barrymore. The archetypal kind-hearted elderly lady. *The Farmer's Daughter (1947), as Joseph Cotten's rather regal mother who befriends and acts as mentor to Loretta Young, the family's Swedish American maid.
  9. Joan Blondell. She was a big star in the early 1930's but spent the rest of her 50-year long acting career in supporting parts. *Nightmare Alley (1947), a sizzling performance as the charlatan psychic and fortune teller in a circus sideshow.
  10. Gloria Grahame. The epitome of the good-bad girl. *The Big Heat (1954), as sadistic gangster Lee Marvin's moll. Who could forget those scenes with the coffee pot?
MODERN CHARACTER ACTRESSES
  1. Anjelica Huston. Her career seriously took off with her Oscar-winning turn in Prizzi's Honor (1985), which she followed up with several amazing supporting performances. *The Dead (1987), in which she played Greta Conroy in her father John Huston's last film, an adaptation of the great James Joyce short story from Dubliners. Her last scene in the movie is stunning and absolutely heartbreaking.
  2. Dianne Wiest. A favorite of Woody Allen, who brings out her funny side. *Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), in which she impersonates the ultimate flake.
  3. Maggie Smith. She won a Best Actress Oscar for 1969's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, but her forte has always been smaller character roles. *A Room with a View (1985), as Helena Bonham Carter's strait-laced Aunt Charlotte, who ultimately reveals herself actually to be a repressed romantic.
  4. Frances McDormand. She also won a Best Actress Oscar (for Fargo, 1996) but like Maggie Smith is at heart a character actress at her best in supporting roles. *Almost Famous (2000), as the hilariously overbearing mother of a teenaged aspiring rock journalist.
  5. Patricia Clarkson. Her amazing range allows her to be equally effective as kooks, strong women, and vulnerable characters. *The Station Agent (2003), a subtle and very moving performance as an emotionally wounded woman yearning for friendship and connection.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
Click here to read my follow-up post "More of Hollywood's Greatest Character Actors and Actresses."

69 comments:

D├ęsiree said...

where's J.T. Walsh? any mention of great character actors that doesn't include him is bunk.

tontonolivier said...

Nice piece. I am just adding your excellent blog to the blogroll of my very modest cinephile blog, started 2 months ago. Yesterday, I just wrote about 4 character actors, much more obscure than the ones you listed, who all appear in NORTH BY NORTHWEST. In case you read french, here's my address :
http://waldolydecker.blog.lemonde.fr/

Freddy said...

Also, I would like to add: Gary Oldman, Jeffrey Wright and John Hurt.

For the ladies, Holly Hunter, Glenn Close and Helen Mirren.

R.J. said...

Excellent piece, even though almost every actor and actress you mention is also a star. I would have chosen people such as John Harmon, Virginia Gregg, and Robert J. Wilke, all actors who, after the collapse of studio system, made television worth watching.

Vicky said...

How about Ned Beatty and Charles Durning? Both great.

KJax said...

I predict Ben Foster will eventually make this list. He plays creepy/evil/eccentric like no one else in "30 Days of Night" and "3:10 to Yuma".

ber said...

Cate Blanchett?

Justin said...

I don't think that Character actors really exist in the 21st century. But I'd say that Steve Buscemi is the closest. But these two deserve mentioning:
M. Emmet Walsh
Harry Dean Stanton

georgette said...

What about Eugene Pallette? Surely a prince among character actors.

underexposure said...

I agree with Desiree that J. T. Walsh is definitely worthy of inclusion. Great list,of which I agree with all of your choices (certainly a rarity for me). Max Von Sydow, Strother Martin, Jack Hawkins, Teresa Wright, Harry Dean Stanton & John Turturro should be considered. Joan Allen & Judi Dench (or are they more leading ladies?) Good lead off with Thelma Ritter & Walter Brennan. Nuff said by me

S.D. said...

I agree with a lot of the ones mentioned on the original lists, or at least those with whom I’m familiar (not sure I ever saw anything with Joan Blondell or Dame May Whitty). I also think several posters mentioned some excellent ones (how could any modern list not include John Hurt and J.T. Walsh?). And to poster Justin, Walsh and Stanton are Ebert’s all-time faves as well. He even called one of his one pieces of critic’s lingo “The Stanton-Walsh Theory”, which states that no movie featuring either actor could ever be completely awful.

To all those mentioned, I’d like to add:

modern: Ian Holm; Hal Holbrook; Christopher Walken; Chris Cooper; Mos Def; Benicio del Toro; Toni Collette; Jason Robards Jr.; Jack Warden; Kate Reid; Geoffrey Rush (leading roles can also be character roles); Catherine Keener; Tony Shalhoub; William H. Macy; Teri Garr; Richard Crenna; Bryan Brown; Joan Cusack; Paul Dooley; Joe Pantoliano; Tony Roberts; Paul Sorvino; Sab Shimono; Delroy Lindo; Al Freeman Jr.; Ray McAnally; Beau Bridges; and I could go on and on….

classic: Erich von Stroheim; Peter Ustinov; Robert Shaw; Melvyn Douglas; Donald Crisp; and of course, since the article mentioned “Some Like It Hot”, how could you not include Joe E. Brown (“Well, nobody’s perfect.”)?

Anonymous said...

Um, Stephen Root? That guy is a gem and a pleasure to watch slip completely into a roll.

Sean said...

What, nothing about the current reigning champions, Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly???

fett said...

No Edward Everett Horton? No S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall? No Peter Lorre or Sydney Greenstreet? Fie I say. Fie.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the onerous omission of J.T. Walsh.

You also left out Walter Huston, Jack Weston, Jeff Corey, John Fielder, and the late, great Charles Lane.

In the modern canon you left out Bill Riehl, Richard Jenkins, Gary Oldman, Michael Jeter, Roy Dotrice, and John C. McGinley among others.

I've fergotten some myself, but these should've been givens. GIVENS.

Phony Gwynn said...

William H. Macy?

MAVIS said...

CHARLIZE THERON?? Did anyone watched "Monster"(2003)?? seriously, that role of hers has got to be one of the best acting in the history of cinema!

Brian said...

really? any list like this, that doesn't have Daniel Day-Lewis on it, is void of all merit

Anonymous said...

What about Aline MacMahon? She basically stole the scene whenever she was onscreen. She could play a tired, world-weary type and wisecrack with the absolute best of them. But she always seemed to hold the moral center of whatever film she was in. Check out The Mouthpiece, Gold Diggers of 1993, and Heat Lightning to just see some of her great work. She was a great actress who should not be forgotten.

Anonymous said...

This list simply cannot exist without mention of the greatest character actor of all time, Peter Lorre. Also, one of the finest character actors working today lives most of his life disguised as a leading man: Brad Pitt. I would argue his best roles are his character roles (12 Monkeys, Fight Club, True Romance, and most recently Burn After Reading).

Anonymous said...

You left out Charles Winninger, whose greatest screen role was as Captain Andy in the 1936 film version of "Show Boat", a part he had also played onstage in the original 1927 Broadway production and the 1932 revival. His other best-known role was as the drunken doctor in the Carole Lombard screwball comedy "Nothing Sacred". He is a highly underrated actor, but he was equally as good in drama as in comedy.

Other roles he played - Judy Garland's father in "Little Nellie Kelly", Mickey Rooney's father in "Babes in Arms", and Jeane Crain's father (who likes rum in his mincemeat pie) in the 1945 "State Fair".

Brian said...

Chris Cooper? Stephen Root? Paul Giamatti?

Anonymous said...

What about Christopher Lloyd?

Melanie said...

Robert Donat? Goodbye, Mr. Chips? Please tell me you remember this.

Other than that....great list.

Anonymous said...

So, I just rewatched Hitchcock's Rebecca the other day, and had forgotten that George Sanders is in it. He pops up midway through, "unctuous and disreputable" indeed. He's always so fantastic, easily stealing scenes from greats like Olivier, Bette Davis, and others.

matt said...

I always enjoyed Clint Howard popping up in some interesting roles.

Allie said...

Oliver Platt.
Theresa Russell.
Hope Davis.
Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Kevin Bacon.
Laura Linney.

Anonymous said...

More votes for Emmett Walsh and JT Walsh - also - Dennis Hopper was sniffing amyl nitrate - not nitrous oxide - it is a kind of important fact...

Jeri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeri said...

My favorite character actor is Edna Mae Oliver. She could play repressive spinster better than anyone, but could be hilariously funny, too.

keltron5 said...

Jennifer Coolidge; she makes any movie, even crap ones better just by being in them.

Yolanda B. said...

Gary Oldman, Tim Roth, J.T. Walsh. 3 of the best Modern Character Actors.

R. D. Finch said...

So many great suggestions. I wish I could have included them all, but I had to set a limit of some kind. Many, many of those suggested were seriously considered. Some of them didn't make the final lists because they're really more lead actors than supporting actors, and others didn't because I concentrated on actors with a fairly large body of work. A few others didn't make it because I don't feel familiar enough with their work to make a judgment call. But most of them weren't included simply because there wasn't enough room; I could easily have chosen 20-25 for the classic and list and 10 for the contemporary list. In the end, as always, it came down to personal choice. Thanks again for all the thoughtful reactions.

Micha said...

Great list...
I'd love to see Gillian Anderson in there. In her post X-Files career, she has managed to establish herself as a versatile character actress I think.

Marshall said...

C'mon, Victor Argo, understated genius.

Anonymous said...

What about Meryl Streep?

Anonymous said...

Richard Jordan. He could be really slimy and despicable, or he could be mind-blowing heroic. The man could play ANYBODY.

Anonymous said...

Where the hell is Warren Oates? If anyone defined character actor in between the old days and the modern era, it was this guy.

Alice said...

Timothy Carey, of the Killing and Paths of Glory (and World's Greatest Sinner, which I have not seen)

crumit said...

Robert Ryan a character actor? Some of the actors you mention I would categorize as leading men. The women, too. Mary Astor and Ethel Barrymore were great actresses in any role they played, leading or supporting.

Character actors? How about Edward Everett Horton, Ned Sparks, Eugene Palette, Franklin Pangborn? What about Hattie McDaniel, Joyce Compton, Zazu Pitts, and the wonderful Florence Bates? These are all true character actors who deserve to be remembered for their underrated contributions. Their equals no longer exist.

Jessica Fowler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Nice list but a few character actors I enjoy watching are: Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm, Robin Williams(in his dramatic/thriller roles), and Cate Blanchet

Anonymous said...

Robert Downey Jr- Charlie Chaplin?

That should be on there for sure

Anonymous said...

Some of my favorites from the classic period...Alan Hale Sr.; George Tobias; Ben Johnson and John Qualen...

Anonymous said...

oh, and Ward Bond, can't forget him...

Anonymous said...

Is a character actor one that plays only one type of role, or an actor that can play a variety of roles? I'm seeing both types in the posted comments. The article seemed to be leaning towards actors typecast into one type of role in film after film. I don't think every supporting actor necessarily fits this description. If we're talking about a limited variety of roles, I'm not sure Walter Brennan actually qualifies. He played roles of villains, sidekicks and mentors in equally prominent films. I would have to agree with Charles Coburn and Eugene Palette fitting the description. My vote for quintessential character actor would have to go to Gabby Hayes. The same guy in every movie. No one's mentioned Andy Devine yet either.

Anonymous said...

GARY OLDMAN...fukin hacks as if you dont add this guy.

Kim H said...

Interesting article, dude but I must dissent. The greatest character actress of all time is Agnes Moorehead. You place her @ a cool second behind the sublime Thelma Ritter, but I think that the "roles" should be reversed. Thelma had her "moments", especially in her work w/Hitchcock, but AM could {@ did} play everything.Moreover Aggie was a true star of every medium, {Orson Welles called her the greatest radio actress ever, & Bette Davis thought that SHE, not Ritter, was Hollywoods premier character "star".} Also, Agnes was able to "make the jump" to television stardom on "Bewitched", something Thelma {sadly} wasn't able to do. Sorry dude, but the real character actress "crown", belongs to Agnes Moorehead :)

Anonymous said...

What about the late great Brion James? When's the guy gonna get some recognition?

Laura said...

Alec Guinness was a well-established character actor before Star Wars changed his life.

Dennis J. said...

I did a double-take when I saw this article on IMDb. My own Website is King Spud's Movie & TV Pages, but the 9 Pages that get googled most is GREAT CHARACTER ACTORS which I created in the 1990s. It lists many of the actors mentioned to be missing from this Web. S.Z. "Cuddles", Sakall, Franklin Pangborn, TV character actors like Frank Sutton, Lew Parker, Don Knotts and over 650 others, complete with bios, filmographies, photos, etc. I don't know if it's legal here, but my URL is http://www.dougmacaulay.com/
kingspud/ks_index_gca.html
The easiest way to navigate through it is to use the Index. BTW, I have a Link on IMDb also.

Anonymous said...

Joan Blondell was the waitress in Grease-"I hate to tell you this-but your hair looks like an Easter egg!"

RockNStroll said...

James Woods should be on any list of modern character actors.

Anonymous said...

Virginia O'Brien

Anonymous said...

How about Alan Rickman???

Anonymous said...

Raymond Massey?
Good list otherwise, but I see a lot of good suggestions in the comments too.

Anonymous said...

Hardly anyone will recognize this guy's name, but EVERYONE will recognize his face: Tracey Walter. Maybe not the greatest actor who ever lived, but he deserves to be on the modern list.

Anonymous said...

Leaving out Peter Lorre and Gary Oldman is criminal, they are unquestionably two of the best ever.

gene of aquitaine said...

so many to list..don't forget Rip Torn, Margo Martindale, Kathleen Chalfant,Lois Smith,Geoffrey Lewis,Ann Dowd and Lisa Bains

Anonymous said...

Do Tommy Lee Jones and Morgan Freeman really count as character actors? They both frequently carry films and they are household names. I always think of character actors as being the actors that everybody recognizes, but most people don't know their names.

Anonymous said...

Excellent essay and all comments posted. Here's a few to add to the list--not all from Hollywood, but cannot forget their great work:

Ernest Borgnine, Joe Flynn, Liam Dunn, Donald Pleasence, John Meilion, Charles 'Bud' Tingwell, Chips Rafferty, Jack Thompson, James Finlayson, Charlie Hall, Mae Busch, Billy Gilbert, Arthur Housman, Henry Brandon, Snub Pollard, Alwyn Kurts, Daphne Pollard, Hank Worden, Monty Woolley, Cecil Kellaway, Michael Pate, Raymond Bailey, Nancy Kulp, Sharon Tate (only 6 movies, spectacular in all of them),Joi Lansing, Edward Binns, Forrest Tucker, Samuel L. Jackson, Ellen Corby, Darren McGavin, Geoffrey Keen, Bert Bailey, Emil Sitka, El Brendel, Eric Blore, John McGiver, Martin Balsam, Roy Roberts, Gale Gordon, Mary Wickes, David Tomlinson, Donald Sinden, Sid James, Margaret Dumont, John Mills, Leo McKern, Trevor Howard, many, many others!

Angel said...

Wow I barely know some of actors and actresses on the list. For me the greatest actress if Meryl Streep. She's one great versatile actress I've ever known. Watch latest movies in HD @ http://www.yayvideo.net

Anonymous said...

where the eff in Daniel Day lewis??

Anonymous said...

Yea, DDL?

I mean, as far as charachter acting goes. He is def. one of the best. I mean; My Left Foot, Room with a View, Unbearable Lightness of Being, My Beautiful Laundrette, Gangs of New York??

We're all just used to it but think about it. Can you beleive one guy played all those charachters??

Anonymous said...

Merl Streep? Cate Blanchett?

Kellyanne said...

What about Vincent D'onofrio? Phillip Seymour Hoffman and William H. Macy are great too.

Anonymous said...

I think some don't know what a character actor is.

Chris Cooper?
Michael Jeter?
Judy Greer?

Anonymous said...

Brad Dourif

Anonymous said...

Has everyone forgotten Rod Taylor?He Along with Chips Rafferty & Michael Pate hailed from Australia back in the 50's when the country wasn't the flavor of the year.