20 Character Actors Who Should Get More Leading Roles

14. Miranda Richardson

Miranda Richardson – Spider

Miranda Richardson is a true chameleon. Her energy on screen is unrivaled by most yet Hollywood still hasn’t figured out how to utilize her talent. Her biggest role in a well-known film was the David Cronenberg mind bender Spider where she played Ralph Fiennes mother and stepmother. It’s difficult to explain but long story short it’s meant to show Fienne’s character’s fractured state of mind and his flashbacks to his childhood trauma.

The film was a twisted gem that displayed the complexity of her emotions. One of her most famous roles is as Queen Elizabeth in the Blackadder series. She played the character with a screeching and manic energy that made her out to be a teenager rather than a royal.

You’ll see her pop up as a supporting role in films like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 1 and Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire as the reporter Reeter Skeeter. Her eccentric on screen personality is difficult for Hollywood to harness but given the right role like in Spider she can excel in any role.


13. Mark Addy

Mark Addy - Game of Thrones

This list could be populated with Game of Thrones actors. That show has a brilliant ensemble of some of the best character actors around. Mark Addy played Robert Baratheon, the cantankerous king in season 1.

Addy is an intriguing actor. Appearance wise he is a bit like an English equivalent of John Candy. In the U.S, Addy is known for the sitcom Still Standing where he plays a working class dad in Middle America named Bill Miller. It’s a typical sitcom setup where Addy and his wife played by Jami Gertz are the parents in a home where the kids are the responsible ones.

What makes Addy’s role remarkable isn’t so much the character but his ability to speak with a near perfect American accent. Many who watched the show had no idea Addy is a Brit. Those who knew him before as the loveable Dave in The Fully Monty were more shocked to hear his accent change.


12. Steve Zahn

Steve Zahn - Rescue Dawn

Playing the comic relief tends to get actors pigeonholed for a long time. Zahn has encountered this and despite playing more dramatic roles he is still seen as the goofy sidekick. Being in the infamous flop Sahara doesn’t help.

When the audience associates an actor with a specific image it can be tough for them to find success outside that. Zahn works well as the comedic side character but seeing him in Werner Herzog’s film Rescue Dawn dispels this image. Seeing the turmoil his character Duane goes through where he is captured during the Vietnam War in Laos is heart breaking.

This should have been enough to cast Zahn in more substantial roles and while the HBO series Treme where he played Davis showed how his natural goofy charm could be utilized in a more dramatic series, he still tends to play the sidekick. This is definitely not a bad thing since he excels at it but seeing him in more dramatic films would be interesting.


11. Imogen Poots

Imogen Poots - 28 Weeks Later

How important is a name to an actor’s success? Many have stage names but often the most successful have names that Hollywood can market. Imogen Poots is quite a unique name and she has the on screen personality and versatility to match it. 28 Weeks Later is the film many know her from where she played Tammy.

That was one of her earliest roles and she infused the character with a vulnerability that made her compelling. Hollywood still seems to be figuring out how to cast her. She had a supporting role in the Fright Night remake as Amy and as Ellie in the Zac Efron comedy That Awkward Moment.

Unfortunately her characters tend to be short changed in the depth department due to a limited screen time or less focus. Once she gets a leading role though Hollywood will realize she has just as much promise as any other actress.


10. Lee Pace

Lee Pace - Pushing Daisies

Sometimes it’s baffling why certain actors don’t get more leading roles. Pace is right on the cusp of becoming a big name. In fact he barely qualifies for this list since he has been getting a lot of big roles recently such as the villain Ronan in Guardians of the Galaxy. His portrayal of that character added way more personality than the material provided but that’s a good example of his charisma at work.

The best display of his abilities is the film The Fall where he plays Roy Walker and The Masked Bandit. It’s difficult to stand out in a film so dominated by visual splendor but he manages to rise above that and be just as interesting as the rest of the film.

The best example of his emotional depth is in the TV series Halt and Catch Fire. That series has been consistently underrated since its first season. Here he plays Joe MacMillan who is a Don Draper esque businessman who will do anything to turn a struggling computer company from underdogs to champions. He is a very cold presence who isolates himself from others to ensure his success but throughout the series we see the cracks forming in his armor and Pace plays the role brilliantly.


9. Robert Patrick

Robert Patrick - Terminator 2

Sci-Fi can be both a blessing and a curse to actors. It has given many actors some fantastic roles but many don’t get cast in other substantial non-sci fi roles after that. It’s not because they are less talented, far from it but they tend to get stuck in that sci fi realm which unfortunately leads them down the road of cheesy B movies and made for DVD films.

This seems more common with TV Sci fi actors than film actors. Robert Patrick has built a strong career even after playing the iconic T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Most still known him for that role and it is a great film to be associated with but delve into his back catalog and you will find he has surprising range.

He maintains a consistent detached demeanor but has shown emotional range in films like Fire in the sky where he played Mike Rogers, the best friend of the main character Travis Walton who claims to have been abducted by aliens. Here he has to bear the majority of the emotional weight and despite the story not being specifically about him he becomes an essential part of a disturbing story.

He has gotten a fair amount of TV work recently in shows like Scorpion, From Dusk till Dawn the series and Last Resort. Perhaps this is the best display of his talents but hopefully he will be cast in another big film soon that shows that he has a lot of substance and depth beneath his stoic appearance.


8. Ben Foster

Ben Foster - 3 10 to Yuma

Ben Foster is a rare actor who usually steals the show from the lead. He is magnetic in 3:10 to Yuma where he plays Charlie Prince who is tracking down Russell Crowe’s character Ben Wade. His fate as Prince becomes just as enthralling as what happens to Wade. He has a great combination of everyman charm and intensity, which makes him impossible to pigeonhole since he never plays the same role twice.

Every now and then he gets a chance to play a leading role like in The Messenger where he played Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery who has to inform the families of soldiers that their loved one has died. There’s no doubt that he has the ability to be a lead considering how he usually outshines the leads in most films he is in.