Top 5 Supporting Characters in Movies & TV

A tweet from Screenwriting U on Twitter asked me today: “Name one of your favorite supporting characters of all time?” Got me thinking about supporting characters in film and television, and ultimately netted in the blog you’re about to read.


5. Gollum (played by Andy Serkis in the Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit)
Many think that Gollum is simply a bunch of 1s and 0s that combine to form something creepy on the movie screen. Not completely so: he’s actually a man named Andy Serkis, who played and voiced the character, then the CGI was simply dropped on top of him (Serkis also played Caesar the ape in Rise of Planet of the Apes). Gollum stole virtually every scene he was in during the film, lifting Gollum up above the other characters and his constant internal battle was brilliantly played out, despite the fact that he seldom had anyone to play it out against. The Academy needs to look into a special Oscar category for someone of Serkis’ talents; he’s more than earned a statue. Maybe Best Supporting CGI Characters?

4. Tyrion Lannister (played by Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones)
There’s a lot of characters to like in GoT, but Tyrion is my favorite. As smart and ruthless as he is diminutive, he proves to be the only one in his family who could potentially rule, but the only one not given the opportunity. Dinklage delivers his lines perfectly; elevating the other characters around him when he’s on-screen.

3. Hans Landa (played by Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds)
Waltz’s portrayal of Landa virtually carried the film through extended periods of dialogue which, if written and/or directed by anyone but Quentin Tarantino, would have been boring. The quintessential scene (and the one I’m convinced won Waltz the gold statue) was the film’s opening sequence. Virtually all talk, all non-related, yet Waltz did such a brilliant job (as did Tarantino) that each passing word built an odd mix of tension and humor, starting off the brilliant film with a blast and establishing one of the great supporting characters in the history of the silver screen.

2. River Tam (played by Summer Glau in Firefly & Serenity)
Could very easily have gone with Wash on this one, but River edges him out for me. Queen of the non sequitur, River vacillated between creepy and funny, often within the same line. Must have been a hell of a lot of fun for Joss Whedon to write this one (and each of the other eight characters too).

1. Doc Holliday (played by Val Kilmer in Tombstone)
The gold standard of supporting characters in film, or any other medium for that matter, and he didn’t even get nominated for an Oscar. Kilmer played the sick, southern gentleman of Doc Holliday to a tee; perfecting the southern drawl, the looks, gestures and dialogue, elevating what would otherwise be an above average movie into something pretty great. Shame he didn’t get the play he deserved for this one; lesser supporting characters have gotten much more recognition.

SEO program is giving me crap again. Characters, characters, characters.