The Importance of Character

I have been thinking about doing this for a while. I find myself with a lot of films becoming more interested in some of the minor or supporting characters then I do the main character. It may be because of the actor portraying the supporting character, but I think it is incredibly important to have a solid supporting cast to form around your lead(s) (unless your Daniel Day-Lewis – who does a one man show in “There Will Be Blood” and “The Ballad of Jack and Rose” – granted the child actor and Paul Dano were very good in TWBB but still, come on!). And since I enjoy making lists, I wanted to list a couple of character actors that I enjoy very much, and if they are in a film – regardless of how good, mediocre, or shitty it is – I’ll give it shot.

Will Patton


Essential Works:

  • “The Punisher” as Quentin Glass
  • “No Way Out” as Scott Pritchard
  • “Remember the Titans” as Coach Bill Yoast
  • “After Hours” as Horst
  • “Everybody Wins” as Jerry
  • “Armageddon” as Chick
  • “Breakfast of Champions” as Moe the Truck Driver

Harris Yulin


Essential Works:

  • “Scarface” as Mel
  • “Clear and Present Danger” as James Cutter
  • “Training Day” as Doug Rosselli
  • “Multiplicity” as Dr. Leeds
  • “The Believers” as Robert Caldert

John Spencer


Essential Works:

  • “The West Wing” TV Series as Chief of Staff Leo McGarry
  • “Copland” as Leo Crasky
  • “Albino Alligator” as Jack
  • “The Rock” as FBI Director James Womack
  • “Presumed Innocent” as Det. Lipranzer

William Fichtner:


Essential Works:

  • “Albino Alligator” as Law
  • “Heat” as Roger Van Zant
  • “The Dark Knight” as the Bank Manager
  • “Strange Days” as Dwayne

David Morse


Essential Works:

  • “The Hurt Locker” as Col. Reed
  • “John Adams” TV Miniseries as George Washington
  • “Down in the Valley” as Wade
  • “Dancer in the Dark” as Bill Houston
  • “The Rock” as Major Tom Baxter
  • “The Crossing Guard” as John Booth

Stephen Lang

Essential Works:

  • “Crime Story” Michael Mann’s TV series as David Abrams
  • “Manhunter” as Freddy Lounds
  • “The Men Who Stare at Goats” – it’s a poor film but he is rock solid
  • “Avatar”
  • “Tombstone” as Ike Clanton
  • “Fire Down Below”
  • “Gettysburg” and “God and Generals”
  • “Public Enemies”

Jonathan Banks

Essential Works:

  • “Wiseguy” TV series as Frank McPike
  • “Dark Blue” as James Barcomb
  • “Armed and Dangerous” as Clyde
  • “Dexter” TV series as Deputy FBI Director Max Adams
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Author: Frank Mengarelli

Everybody relax, Frank's here. After going to film school at Columbia College Chicago, Frank decided to underachieve with his vast knowledge of film into a career in civil service. Frank had a brief stint as a film blogger, and then he met the heterosexual love of his life, Nick Clement. The two instantly bonded over their love from everything to Terence Malick to THE EXPENDABLES films. Some of Frank's favorite filmmakers are Terence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone and Spike Lee. Some of his favorite films are THE TREE OF LIFE, STAR WARS (all of them), BAD LIEUTENANT, THE THING and ALL THAT JAZZ. Frank spends his free time with his dog Roger, collecting any Star Wars collectible he can find and trying to finish his pretentious, first person narrative novel(la), LARGE MEN IN SMALL CARS..

2 thoughts on “The Importance of Character”

  1. Nice post. I think part of the reason we find supporting characters so interesting is the fact that we simply don’t know as much about them, adding to their mystique and intrigue.

    Just a pet peeve of mine… “your” doesn’t mean the same thing as “you’re.”

    I would also add “The Negotiator” to Morse’s essentials. He’s the man in that movie.

  2. So glad to see you included Jonathan Banks here, but I totally disagree over his “essential” list. Dexter? Really?? It was a nothing part. Breaking Bad and Wiseguy aside, how about his guest turn on ER? As Shadow Man in Day Break? Or check out his part as the hitchhiker in Frances. For comedy – nothing beats his classic Eldon Ashcroft IV on Designing Women. The only man who ever stood up to Julia Sugarbaker!

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