9 Supporting Actors Who Stole The Movie

They weren’t the stars. But they shone brightest...

 

Last Tuesday, totalfilm.com’s DVD Club watched The Fugitive with the followers of @tfdvdclub on Twitter.

Given that the film features a scene – and, generally, movie – stealing performance from Tommy Lee Jones, we've rounded up our favourite film-thieves.

They weren't top of the bill, but once they appear, the show's all about them...

The Film: The Fugitive (1993)

The Film Thief: Tommy Lee Jones (Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard)

Heist Moment: That iconic, much imitated speech (see “memorable line”, below). All swagger and cool efficiency.

You just know this tough-as-old-boots Federal Marshall is a no-nonsense tracker dog in human form and from the minute he shows up, he dominates every scene he’s in.

Hell, he was so cool, they built the sequel around him.

Memorable Line: “What I want from each and every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in that area. Checkpoints go up at fifteen miles. Your fugitive's name is Dr. Richard Kimble. Go get him.”

Tea-Leaf Trivia: Jon Voight and Gene Hackman were both offered the Gerard role before Tommy Lee.

Next: Cuba Gooding Jr[page-break]

 

The Film: Jerry Maguire (1997)

The Film Thief: Cuba Gooding Jr (Rod Tidwell)

Heist Moment: Freshly fired sports agent Maguire (Tom Cruise) desperately thumbs through his Rolodex, trying to find clients who will stay with him.

One of the few who take his call is American football player Tidwell, who proceeds to draw out his agreement, forcing Maguire to prove both his loyalty and his ability to keep Tidwell earning.

It’s a comic, redemptive star turn - one that earned Cuba Gooding Jr an Oscar.

Memorable Line: “Anyone else would have left you by now, but I'm sticking with you, and if I have to ride your ass like Zorro, you're gonna show me the money!”

Tea-Leaf Trivia:Former football player Tim MacDonald (who played for the same team as the fictional Tidwell – the Arizona Cardinals) is credited with coining “show me the money”.

Next: Alec Baldwin[page-break]

 

The Film: Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

The Film Thief: Alec Baldwin (Blake)

Heist Moment: David Mamet’s brutal critique of cold-call sales culture is smart and compulsive before Baldwin shows up.

With Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey and Jack Lemmon in the cast, it's hardly hurting for solid talent.

But Baldwin’s cascading, incinerating cameo as the superstar salesman who 'motivates' the group of hangdog real-estate drones sucks in the rest of the movie like a black hole.

Memorable Line: “We're adding a little something to this month's sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired.”

Tea-Leaf Trivia: The character wasn’t in the original, Pulitzer Prize-winning play – it was created especially for Baldwin.

Next: Ed Norton[page-break]

 

The Film: Primal Fear (1996)

The Film Thief: Ed Norton (Aaron Stampler)

Heist Moment: Switching between multiple personalities – mild Aaron and psycho 'Roy' (spoiler alert – he’s a liar, and Roy’s real!), Norton neatly nicks the pic from the fumbling hands of Richard Gere's defense attorney with a career-making turn as an accused murderer who's much more than meets the eye.

Memorable Line: "I got you. You the lawyer. Well, you sure fucked this one up, didn't you, counsellor? Looks to me like they're gonna shoot ol' Aaron so full o' poison it's gonna come out his eyes!”

Tea-Leaf Trivia: Norton, ever committed to character, turned up at the audition with the Stampler character fully formed, stutter and all.

Next: Tom Cruise[page-break]

 

The Film: Tropic Thunder (2008)

The Film Thief: Tom Cruise (Les Grossman)

Heist Moment: Tropic Thunder is full of great comic work – it’s tough to choose between Robert Downey Jr’s Kirk Lazarus or the mentalist effects expert Cody, played by Danny McBride.

But Cruise, as studio chief Grossman, swaggers through the film with bizarre, white-boy hip-hop attitude, in a fat suit and bald hairpiece, running away with every scene he invades.

Foul-mouthed and obsessed with the bottom line, he's easily the most effortlessly funny thing in a film that, elsewhere, is trying way too hard to be funny. And that’s before his dance in the credits...

Memorable Line: “Now I want you to take a step back... and literally fuck your own face!”

Tea-Leaf Trivia: While some believe Les is a parody of Viacom/Paramount honcho Sumner Redstone (who ditched Cruise’s production company from the studio), he looks more like Ben Stiller’s producing partner Stuart Cornfeld...

Next: Mark Wahlberg[page-break]

 

The Film: The Departed (2006)

The Film Thief: Mark Wahlberg (Sean Dignam)

Heist Moment: The focus was, understandably, on Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson, but Wahlberg made more of an impact with much less screen time.

Playing a pugnacious staff sergeant who helps recruit both Damon and DiCaprio into the undercover life, Wahlberg sustains a tirade of abuse and creative swearing that really, really ought to have won him the Oscar.

Memorable Line: “Your fuckin'' family's dug into the Southie projects like ticks. Three-decker men at best. You, however, grew up on the North Shore, huh? Well, la-di-fuckin'-da! You were kind of a double kid, I bet, right? Huh?”

Tea-Leaf Trivia: Wahlberg based his performance on coppers who had arrested him in his wild younger days.

Next: Penelope Cruz[page-break]

 

The Film: Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008)

The Film Thief: Penelope Cruz (Maria Elena)

Heist Moment: With her arrival on the scene built up by ex-husband Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), Cruz’s Maria turns up fresh from a suicide attempt - fiery, doomed, unstoppable, impossibly glamorous and the sexual catalyst that sparks up a crowd-pleasing threesome with Bardem and Scarlett Johansson.

Memorable Line (To Bardem): “You'll always seek to duplicate what we had. You know it.”

Tea-Leaf Trivia: Cruz nabbed an Oscar for the role, making her the latest in a long line of Woody Allen supporting actresses to take home the gold (including Mira Sorvino and Dianne Wiest).

Next: Matt Damon[page-break]

 

The Film: Team America (2004)

The Film Thief: “Matt Damon"

Heist Moment: In Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s merciless puppet spoof of American political attitudes to war and "peace-keeping", there are plenty of indelible rubbery turns, including Alec Baldwin (as head of FAG – the Film Actors Guild) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (who gets his own song).

But, despite only having one repeated line of dialogue (see below) the strangely mutated Damon is the film.

Memorable Line: “Matt Damon!”

Tea-Leaf Trivia: The puppet wasn’t supposed to look so warped. It just arrived that way. Parker and Stone – who had planned to make him seem intelligent – decided, in their words, to send him “retarded”.

Next: Heath Ledger[page-break]

 

The Film:The Dark Knight (2008)

The Film Thief: Heath Ledger (The Joker)

Heist Moment: At the end of the opening bank-job, the single surviving robber tears off his mask to reveal a cadaverous, smirking creature seemingly oblivious to the death and danger. ("I believe whatever doesn't kill you simply makes you... stranger.")

From then on, despite Christian Bale's conflicted Batman, despite Aaron Eckhart's complex Harvey Dent... the film is all Ledger's. Corrupting, subverting, forever dancing on the edge of panic and perversity...

The Oscar was a gimme and Ledger's cinematic legacy became immortal.

Memorable Line: "Madness is like gravity. All it takes is a little push..."

Tea-Leaf Trivia: Ledger based the Joker on a mix of Alex from A Clockwork Orange and Sex Pistol Sid Vicious.

 

Don't forget to check out next week's DVD Club movie, Ben-Hur. It kicks off at 8pm on Tuesday (May 19th). Full details here.

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