In the movie business, it’s often assumed that the best actor should play the best role. This is where the initial divide between a “lead” and “support” was born. The lead actor should carry the story, where the supporting roles are just there to, well, support the story.
Sometimes, things don’t quite turn out that way. Sometimes a supporting actor is so good that the supporting role changes the dynamic of the movie entirely. Somehow they become a very important part of the movie and often one of the more memorable roles. Let’s take a look at some Hollywood movies where the supporting role ended up being better than the lead.
Anthony Hopkins, The Silence Of The Lambs
Let’s not be foolish here – this is the textbook example of a supporting actor (Anthony Hopkins) stealing every scene he’s in and making the story about him. No disrespect to Jodie Foster of course, but how can you compete with Anthony Hopkins?
Javier Bardem , No Country For Old Men
If there’s something Javier Bardem can do well, it’s play a seemingly remorseless killer. His role as the villain in this movie is very much in tune with his ghastly expressions and deep, warm voice.
Christoph Waltz, Inglorious Basterds
Christoph Waltz is amazing, but we’d never have thought he’d be this good. He absolutely steals the show in Tarantino’s war movie and is probably the most likable Nazi, well, ever.
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
As bleak as Heath Ledger’s unfortunate demise was, that’s how memorable his role as the Joker will be. Perhaps not the Joker that’s most in tune with the comic book material, but at least this was one that proved a worthy foe to Batman throughout the entire movie.
Robert De Niro, The Godfather Part II
It’s no wonder Robert De Niro was very often cast for mafia-esque movies after his passage through Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather II. He’s one of the best, and it’s sad to see him being reduced to playing comedy movies alongside Zac Efron now.