Supporting Actors Who Stole The Show

It's not always the name at the top of the poster that we remember. Meet our favourite supporting characters.

There's an old actor's adage that says the real gold is in the supporting roles. In Hollywood that goes double. A sufficiently cunning actor can take a small part in a movie and imprint themselves on the audience's memory, stealing the limelight from an A-lister.
It's not polite, but it is funny, and some of the greatest moments in movie history have come from these ruthless larcenists. We've listed our favourites and added your suggestions to our rundown of supporting actors who stole the show.

Mark Wahlberg in The Departed

He was handed the coolest character in the film. But Wahlberg hit a home run with this wise-guy detective all the same, giving no ground and gritting his teeth in defiance as the rat-hunt escalates.

John Turturro in The Big Lebowski

Turturro steals practically every movie he appears in, from Miller's Crossing to Transformers, but he's never been more outrageously larcenous than he is here as the loathsome, snake-hipped, paedophile bowling champion Jesus Quintana. In a film stuffed with brilliant star turns, he still walks away with it.

Kate Hudson in Almost Famous

Cameron Crowe's lovesong to 70s rock'n'roll remains one of our favourite music movies. But the rock and the drugs just don't stick in the mind as much as Kate Hudson's beautiful groupy.

Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds

Every time Christoph Waltz set foot in an awards show in 2009 and 2010, he won the Best Supporting Actor award. Let's not go pretending that Inglourious Basterds was a disaster. We actually think it's full of great performances. But yeah, Waltz was the best thing in it by a long way.

Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner

Actually, let's just say Rutger Hauer in everything. With those incredible bug-eyed baby blues and weird otherworldly delivery, Hauer is the most watchable thing in every scene he appears in. He was perfectly cast as the rogue android Batty, easily nicking the film from Harrison Ford's glum detective.

Judi Dench in Shakespeare In Love

Dame Judi had eight minutes of screen time as Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare In Love - that's neck and neck with Orson Welles in The Third Man - and she won an Oscar for the role. She had the decency to be embarrassed about it on the podium, but this remains the most outrageous bit of movie larceny in modern times.

Alan Rickman in Robin Hood

With a po-faced Kevin Costner in the lead and Morgan Freeman on twinkly autopilot, Robin Hood was begging to be stolen. Rickman steps up to the challenge in style as the ludicrously evil Sheriff of Nottingham, snarling like a panto villain and cancelling Christmas.

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight

Does it count as stealing the film when you're basically the star? The jury's out on that, but there's no doubt that Ledger's remarkable Joker left tooth marks on every frame of The Dark Knight, easily outshining Christian Bale. Warners, spurred on both by his performance and his tragic death, made sure Ledger was the name on everyone's lips when the film came out.

Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men

Scrutinised by military lawyer Cruise's questions, Nicholson's crooked Colonel is a picture of defiance - a military man who went too far: "You can't handle the truth!"

Steve Buscemi in Armageddon

Buscemi's bug-eyed stare and caffeinated delivery has snaffled many a movie from under the star's nose. You can barely see him tucked over there on the left but he's still the most noticeable thing. Honourable mention goes to his turn in Domestic Disturbance, but for our money Buscemi's greatest movie theft was Armageddon, where Bruce Willis simply couldn't compete with his bomb-riding antics.

Robert De Niro in Brazil

In a world full of pipes and steam, what you really need is a heroic plumber. De Niro abseils into the movie like a flesh and blood super Mario, bringing a twinkle of happy anarchy to Gilliam's bureaucratic dystopia. He's great fun.

Joe Pesci in Goodfellas

You need some cojones to steal a movie from Robert De Niro, but Pesci's magnificently unhinged Tommy - "Funny how? Funny like I'm a clown? I amuse you?" - is the character that everyone remembers from Goodfellas. And what about Ray Liotta, the actual star of the film? Fuhgeddaboudit, as the mobsters say.

Cuba Gooding Jr in Jerry Maguire

Jerry Maguire was supposed to be a romantic vehicle for Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger, but frankly they were both outclassed by Cuba Gooding Jr as sports agent Maguire's only client. Gooding delivered most of the laughs, made sure that "Show Me The Money" became an international catchphrase and, to add insult to injury, nabbed the Oscar for best Supporting Actor. Cruise must have been spitting.

Orson Welles in The Third Man

As well as directing Citizen Kane, a film that consistently tops those Best Film Ever Made polls, Welles is also responsible for the greatest movie theft of them all. Mobster Harry Lime barely appears in The Third Man, but the entire film is suffused with his sinister presence.

Sean Connery in The Untouchables

Poor old Kevin Costner. Actors Are forever nicking movies from right under his big old earnest nose. In The Untouchables, it was wily old Sean Connery, playing an Irish beat cop with an eyebrow-raising Scottish akschent, who walked off with both the plaudits and the Oscar.

Brad Pitt in Fight Club

"All the ways you wish you could be, that's me." Brad Pitt is perfect for Edward Norton's warped accomplice in Fight Club; a savage, ruthless free spirit.

Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine

Aged only ten, she's the emotional centre of the whole heart-warming adventure. All the grown-ups have something to learn from Breslin's wannabe beauty queen. Learning to dance with her grandpa, she's the best thing in it.