Above: Peter Stormare in s scene from The Big Lebowski. Photo is screen shot from YouTube video.
Major movie stars with standout acting skills are one in a million these days, when you think about it. The most successful actors know how to chew the scenery in the morning before working the red carpet in the evening. But the true warriors of film and television today are those who blend so seamlessly into their roles, we don’t even think about how important they are to the business themselves and how different the landscape would be without them. These actors make a difference because of their consistency and range, but they rarely get the recognition they deserve. Here are just a few of the best.
Known for his distinctive Scottish twang, a voice that has been utilized countlessly for animated pictures like Brave and Open Season, we mustn’t forget Connolly’s distinctive live action work in pictures such as The Boondock Saints and The Last Samurai. And definitely don’t miss him paired up evenly with Judi Dench in Mrs. Brown.
Dewitt is an indie golden child known for her subtlety and charm, which have made her a vital part of Hollywood today. Her star-making role as the title character in Rachel Getting Married propelled her to even more opportunities in pictures such as Your Sister’s Sister and The Company Men.
Dowd is one of those indispensable actors who makes you say “Oh I remember her, she is in everything.” She sure is. Dowd has made an undeniably powerful impact on films such as Garden State and Marley and Me, and finally got a chance to flex her bigger dramatic muscles as the unfortunate restaurant manager in Compliance.
An actor who deftly toes the line between movie star and artist, Foster’s emotional range and natural style never seem to earn him the credit he deserves. Go back and give him a watch in Lone Survivor, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, and especially as the powder keg soldier in The Messenger.
She has become known for her hilarious turns on Arrested Development and Archer, but Greer has some serious acting chops that go far beyond “comedienne”. She made a splash in The Village and 13 Going on 30, but gave a serious tour de force performance as the deceived wife in The Descendants.
The young actress just recently came onto the scene and has an undeniable chameleon quality that allows her to play nearly anything. Larson gave consistently strong supporting turns in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Spectacular Now, and Don Jon. But don’t miss her bravura performance in Short Term 12.
I will never understand why the Weinsteins never campaigned for her groundbreaking role as the cinema owner in Inglorious Basterds during Oscar season. Regardless, Laurent’s quiet power on screen has made her truly memorable. Make sure to also check her out in Beginners and Enemy.
A member of the unspoken “Mike Leigh Acting Troupe”, Marsan’s comedic and dramatic range cannot be denied. He created fantastic performances in films such as The World’s End, Vera Drake, and of course as the emotionally distraught driving instructor in Happy-Go-Lucky.
Here’s a fun fact: did you know Ray McKinnon has an Oscar? He won for writing and directing the short film The Accountant after becoming a go-to actor for films that called for strong character actors who could pull off southern. Check him out in Apollo 13 and The Blind Side, but particularly as the loving father in Mud.
Another new star on the film scene, Seimetz’s future in the business already looks bright. Her subtle, natural performances made her a force to be reckoned with last year alone in Upstream Color, You’re Next, and Pit Stop.
A dynamite character actor of film and television (and a personal favorite), I cannot think of anyone more underrated than JK Simmons. He is known for playing Peter Parker’s boss in the original Spider-Man franchise, but don’t miss his distinctive dramedy skills on display in Juno and Up in the Air.
There is truly no one like Timothy Spall, another character actor whose distinctive voice and look have given him opportunities to show his incredible range in The King’s Speech, Topsy-Turvy, and as Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter series.
He made several smaller supporting turns in action flicks in past years, but his star power and skill just recently came into light, particularly after his incredible performance on House of Cards. Make sure to check him out in Non-Stop and C.O.G., but do NOT miss his scene-stealing performance as Ernest Hemingway in Midnight in Paris.
Does your film need a really great villain? Hire Peter Stormare. His brooding, frightening presence always has something more happening underneath the surface, and this distinctive feature has given him powerful turns in films such as Chocolat, Constantine, and most memorably as the quiet hitman in Fargo.
Mark McCarver was born and raised in Houston, Texas and has been involved in theater and film since he was a kid. He spent the past few years acting and directing across Texas before moving to Washington, DC in the fall of 2012 to get a taste of the East Coast’s entertainment industry. Mark holds a BA in Drama from Trinity University and trained at the Syracuse University – London Drama Program and Shakespeare’s Globe. He is a company member with Half Mad Theatre in Washington.