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The 20 Best Scene Stealing Movie Performances

28 April 2013 | Features, Other Lists | by David Zou

Constantin Stanislavski famously remarked that “there are no small parts, only small actors”. A supporting actor must use restraint not to upstage the main actor/actress in the movie. But sometimes even a tiny role in a short scene can shine brighter than the leading role(s) in an entire movie. They may not purposefully steal the whole show, but due to brilliant performance, we remember them along with the movie. Here are 20 greatest supporting performances that easily stole the shows.


20. Benicio Del Toro – The Usual Suspects


Sure, Kevin Spacey has that iconic moment at the end of the film, but Del Toro is effortlessly enigmatic way before that in Bryan Singer’s brain-melting thriller. Examples? Just check out the line-up scene. “Hand-me-the-fuckin-keys-what-the-fuhhh?”


19. Judi Dench – Shakespeare In Love


Bringing a regal reserve and a rattlesnake tongue to the ‘character’ of Queen Elizabeth I, Dench is unforgettable despite only appearing in John Madden’s film for a total of eight minutes. It’s all quality over quantity there, eh?


18. Dean Stockwell – Blue Velvet


An unnerving pimp and druggy who only shows up for one scene of David Lynch’s film, Ben (Stockwell) nonetheless makes one heck of an impact – even Frank (Dennis Hopper) is afraid of him…


17. Val Kilmer – Tombstone


As eccentric but lovable ex-dentist Doc Holliday, Kilmer brings true grit to a gift of a character, fearlessly taking down any bad guy who crosses his path. We could watch that drunken poker game scene on repeat for hours…


16. Orson Welles – The Third Man


He only has three scenes in the entire film, but Welles is spellbinding as Harry Lime, coming equipped with a truly iconic entrance and an unforgettable monologue.


15. Chloe Grace Moretz – Kick-Ass


Foul-mouthed and more flexible than a Romanian gymnast, Hit Girl (Moretz) is, somewhat ironically, the most kick-ass character in Kick-Ass. We bet she steals every scene in the upcoming Kick-Ass 2, as well.

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    Star Wars is the most overrated pile of piss ever. Ledger should be no.1 and waltz no.2

  • Mark Harding

    Keitel was good in PF, but I always thought Jackson was the real scene stealer. And for Caddyshack, Rodney all the way.

  • Pingback: The 20 Greatest Scene Stealing Movie Performances | tMC

  • your mom

    jim carrey will be stealing the show in Kick-Ass 2

  • Red Lagoon

    I was hoping Alec Baldwin – Glengarry Glenn Ross would come first!

  • CE

    But where is Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham?

  • Guest

    I would’ve put Heath Ledger at one. The definition of a true scene-stealing performance is his in The Dark Knight. He’s not in it as much as you’d think, which shows his hold anf intensity over the entire narrative is palpable.

  • Aroreiel

    I would’ve put Heath Ledger at one. The definition of a true scene-stealing performance is his in The Dark Knight. The Joker isn’t it as much as you’d think, but his hold and intensity over the entire narrative is palpable.

  • Geronimo1618

    Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs? *facepalm*

  • Ahnuld

    You picked Harvey Keitel’s Mr. Wolfe over Christopher Walken’s watch monologue? Are you mad?

  • Spongebob

    The line up scene was OWNED by steven baldwin.