Oh THAT Guy…or possibly Gender Inequality in Bit Parts

If I have a mutant ability, it is my ability to identify obscure actors in small parts on TV and in movies.  I have often wished there were some sort of job available.

Here are some actors I enjoy with some of my favorite appearances.

Alan Tudyk

I’ll start with the youngest on the list.  You might know him as Heath Ledger’s red-headed friend from A Knight’s Tale.  Also, he gave a great performance in 3:10 To Yuma as Doc Potter.  Quirky and content to remain in the background, this guy is excellent and under-appreciated.  Of course Firefly and Serenity fans love him already.  For the uninitiated, get on Netflix Instant right now and stream the episode “Briar Rose” from the television show Dollhouse.  I mean now.  Incredible and, in my opinion, his best work that I’ve seen.

James Rebhorn

Continuing up the age spectrum…This guy is like my cinematic security blanket.  It’s a fair bet you’ve been watching him since you were a kid.  Did you see Disney’s Blank Check?  He was the dad.  Did you see Independence Day?  He was the sniveling Secretary of Defense.  If you watched Meet the Parents, he was the fiancé’s father.  I don’t think a guy that tall has ever been less prominent.  I guess I’m a minority in liking the Seinfeld finale, but as the prosecuting attorney, he basically took us through the series’ history, which got me into the show in the first place.  The best recommendation I could give you involving James Rebhorn is to tell you to rent (or acquire from the cheap DVD rack at Target) the Michael Douglas film The Game.  He has a small but integral part.

Brian Cox

Here is one of the absolute busiest actors in Hollywood.  He’ll be in at least 6 films this year alone, not to mention a television series and voiceover work for a decently popular video game.  Blessed with a permanent scowl that makes him instantly dislikable if not downright despicable, he’s often cast as a villain or some sort of antagonistic authority figure.  His roles include Ward Abbot in the first two Bourne movies, William Stryker in the second X-Men, Richard Morgan in The Ring, Uncle Argyle in Braveheart, and Agamemnon in Troy.

Pete Postlethwaite

Too bad The Town couldn’t have been his last film released, but alas, there is Killing Bono.  Oh well.  This titan passed away this year, but he left a ton of great roles to remember him by.  You have a slim chance of recognizing him by name, but his face is unforgettable.  He was in Romeo + Juliet, Amistad, Clash of the Titans, and The Lost World: Jurassic Park.  Playing the extremely intimidating killer florist in The Town will be what I remember him for, as well as his appearing in some of my favorite films ever: The Constant Gardener, The Usual Suspects, and Inception.  Whoever did the voice work for the guy giving you hitman missions over the phone with the distinctive accent in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was definitely trying to impersonate Pete’s Kobayashi character from The Usual Suspects (go watch that movie).  Why else would you pronounce “employer” as “employer?”

I was racking my brain to think of female bit part actors with as long a list of parts, but it seems girls are either in lead roles or just there to be pretty or funny.  Anyone know of any actresses who have made a career out of bit parts?


About yeshuabendavid

I've been called Mr. Oblivious (I like the backstory to that one), Bible Boy, Christian-Man (MAN, Man, man...), Media Man, Tech Guru, but mostly Josh--took my blog name from my favorite nickname, which my music students used to call me. If you write what you know, then I should blog about music, basic songwriting, movies, video games, great-yet-cancelled TV shows, Kmart video game scams, complaining about the government, and waiting too long then watching great girls get snatched up.

Posted on May 27, 2011, in movies, TV. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Micah Lovell

    Dude. I’m right there with you. I like Rebhorn’s work (The Game is one of the better movies that NO ONE has seen) and I’m a big Postlethwaite fan.

    I think Allison Janney is the primary actress who came to mind.

    Amy Ryan and Melora Hardin I always thought were great character actors, but Ryan has become so prominent lately, she’s a borderline A-lister. The same goes for Elizabeth Banks.

    And aside from a lead role in “The Musketeer,” Mena Suvari has usually taken solid bit parts for movies and TV.

    Also, Ellen Pompeo, pre-Grey’s fit that role.

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