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15 Famous Character Actors

by rushfan
fact checked by dickensgirl

Character actors are the unsung heroes of Hollywood. These are the guys you see in everything, you know their face, but you can’t quite place their name. Character actors have built their careers around small, yet distinctive roles. So – here are 15 of the best!


Diane Wiest


Diane Wiest has enjoyed a successful career on stage, television, and film. She might be best known for roles in Parenthood and Edward Scissorhands, and she has become better known for a series of anxious, insecure women who seem to be taxed to the breaking point just getting through the day.


Dan Hedaya

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Hedaya had a minor role in Oliver Stone’s Nixon and later played Nixon himself in Dick. He was a junior high school teacher for many years before deciding to pursue acting full-time.


Jeffrey Jones

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Who can forget Jeffrey Jones in Beetle Juice or as the principal in Ferris Bueller’s Day off? Sadly, Jones became a registered sex offender in 2003, after having been accused of hiring a 14-year-old boy to pose for sexually explicit photographs, and pled guilty to a felony charge.


Daniel Stern

Daniel Stern

Acting since the age of seventeen, Stern got his start in off-Broadway productions and has built up quite an impressive list of movie credits. He starred in City Slickers and Home Alone.


Donal Logue

Donal Logue

I was surprised to learn Donal Logue attended Harvard and studied at the British-American Drama Academy in London. Logue starred in Blade and Jerry Maguire, among other things.


James Cromwell

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Cromwell has played a US President four times – fictional President Fowler in The Sum of All Fears, fictional President Newman in “The West Wing”, Lyndon B. Johnson in the TV movie RFK, and George H.W. Bush in Oliver Stone’s film W.


Brion James

Brion James

A veteran of over 100 television and 120+ movie roles, James is best remembered for roles such as the replicant Leon in Blade Runner, Gen. Munro in The Fifth Element, Big Teddy in Cabin Boy. He died of a heart attack in 1999.


David Morse

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Morse is frequently cast in book-to-movie/television works by Stephen King, and I personally enjoyed his performance in The Langoliers. He claims that out of all of the films he’s done, his favorites are The Green Mile, The Crossing Guard, The Indian Runner, and The Rock.


Harry Dean Stanton


Stanton served in WWII before beginning his acting career. He also fronts a band called “The Harry Dean Stanton Band” which regularly performs in the Los Angeles area. He starred in Alien, Repo Man, Paris, Texas, and other films.


Vincent Schiavelli

Vincent Schiavelli

Vincent Schiavelli, selected in 1997 by Vanity Fair as one of the best character actors in America, made over 120 film and television appearances. Aside from his acting career, Vincent was the author of three cookbooks, and has written numerous articles on food for magazines and newspapers. He died of lung cancer in 2005. He starred in Blade Runner and Tomorrow Never Dies.


Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson Debate

Fred Thompson was a United States Senator representing Tennessee from 1994 through 2002. He has played the same character, District Attorney Arthur Branch, in five different series: “Law & Order”, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”, “Law & Order: Trial by Jury” and “Conviction”. He also ran for president in 2008! Fred ’08.


Stephen Root

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Root has developed a cult following since his performance in Office Space and says people often give him red Swingline staplers.


Hank Azaria


Most famous for being one of the principal providers of voices on The Simpsons, he became better known through his appearances in films such as The Birdcage, Godzilla and Along Came Polly. As well as Moe, Wiggum and Apu, Azaria provides the voices of Comic Book Guy, Carl Carlson, Cletus Spuckler, Professor Frink, Dr. Nick Riviera, Lou, Snake, Kirk Van Houten, the Sea Captain, Superintendent Chalmers, Duffman, the “Wise Guy” and numerous other one-time characters in the Simpsons.


Edie McClurg

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Edie McClurg is usually typecast as a middle-aged, somewhat stubborn and dimwitted Midwesterner. She has a Master of Science from Syracuse and taught radio at the University of Missouri/Kansas City for eight years. She starred in Natural Born Killers, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Mr. Mom.


Curtis Armstrong


Probably most well-known for playing Booger in Revenge of the Nerds, Armstrong also had a recurring role on Moonlighting.

Contributor: rushfan

fact checked by dickensgirl