Biopics are always praised for their lead actor or actress’ realistic or unique portrayal of the subject, but what of the supporting cast? Sure, we do recognize their efforts, they might even receive an Academy Award, but rarely are they honored with something as prestigious as an online comedy list.
It’s time to rectify that. Here are some of the more talented, memorable, or uncanny portrayals of people who were important enough to be featured in a movie, but not important enough for that movie to be about them.
10. Josh Brolin as Dan White in Milk
It would be really easy to play a person like Dan White one-dimensionally. As a self-proclaimed defender of family and religion against homosexuals and pot smokers in the city of San Francisco, it’s not hard to picture a scowling suit driven to murder out of prejudice and frustration. Brolin didn’t make it so simple, however, and Dan White comes across as an honest-to-god human being with human being troubles. He’s not just some hate puppet, but a man who is quite simply not from the world he was thrown into, and didn’t know how to deal with the rejection of that world.
Of course, none of that makes his actions justified – but at least we can see the mental wheels turning that led him down the terrible path he took. We see that there are no monsters, only monstrous acts.
9. Gary Oldman as Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK
Gary Oldman is a man known for his extremely wide range, and while makeup plays a big role in that, it really comes down to talent. Lee Harvey Oswald is a great proof of that, because there’s next to no physical transformation here. He just looked the part, so it was just a matter of performance. It’s not unlike when he played Sid Vicious; all they had to do was spike up his hair and voila, uncanny resemblance. Does that mean that Sid Vicious and Lee Harvey Oswald also look alike? Let’s go with yes.
And it’s not like Oldman just put on an accent and went to work – he actually traveled around the U.S. meeting people who knew Oswald in order to take on the character. As he put it, he became a ‘detective’ on the matter, hearing both sides of the conspiracy from people who knew the assassin and/or patsy personally.
8. Crispin Glover as Andy Warhol in The Doors
You know – I have no idea what Andy Warhol was like in real life, but gun to my head I would have to guess that he was exactly like Crispin Glover, because Crispin Glover is insane. In a good way. It just fits, right? That red phone in the movie that talks to god? How much do you want to bet Glover just brought that thing from home?
“Hey Oliver, can I use my god phone for this scene?” “Sure Crispin, just don’t go near me and you can do whatever you want.”
I mean… have you heard his album? It sounds like a Muppet nightmare. A friend of mine noticed that his copy had a phone number in the liner notes, and when he called it someone picked up. He explained where he got the number and the meek voice on the other end replied, “So how did you like my album?”
7. Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln
It’s funny – unless you are a historian you probably have no idea who Thaddeus Stevens was until watching this film, let alone what kind of a man he was. It didn’t matter, all that mattered was getting to watch Tommy Lee Jones do what he does best: act like a ridiculously charismatic scrooge. Just a big ol’ lovable grump, like an old cat on a porch that hates being petted, and yet you can’t stop petting for that reason.
6. Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator
100 million dollar budget, all-star cast, Scorsese-directed – this film put a whole lot of effort into being forgettable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad film by any stretch, but when you go through the list this one always gets skipped.
One thing that did not get lost to time, however, is Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn. Miss Galadriel perfectly captured the late actress’ eccentricities down to the voice. They even look alike.
It’s one of those performances that must be a caricature, and yet is not. Hepburn never wavered from expressing every weird truth she felt, such as the hope that there’s no afterlife but the quiet pleasure of rotting in the ground, not having to “rake anymore leaves.” The point is valid, for there isn’t a single person on this earth who hasn’t wished to cease existing while raking a yard.
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