The best things come in small packages...even movie roles.
A lot of times the best performance in a movie only lasts a few minutes. In fact, sometimes the actors are SO good in these small roles they actually win Oscars — for example, Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love, whose on-screen time was only 8 minutes or Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables, whose on-screen time was about 15 minutes. (Both won for Best Supporting Actress, for the record.)
So, when Reddit user u/CherryDamzel posed the question, "What small role actors stole the scene or entire movie?" to the r/Movies community, they were quick to respond with some really great examples of stars who had a big impact on a particular scene or movie, despite having a relatively small role in the overall film. Here are some of the most popular and top-voted responses:
1. Ana de Armas as Paloma in No Time To Die
Nicola Dove / MGM / Danjaq / Courtesy Everett Collection
"She was absolutely stunning and kicked ass. Best part of the film."
"The fact she was in the film for such a short time is a shame. She was easily the best part of that dull film."
2. Alfred Molina as Rahad Jackson in Boogie Nights
New Line Cinema
"Apparently PTA gave Molina an earplug and an earpiece, so all he could hear was the dialogue during the scene. That's how he was able to act unfazed through all those firecracker sounds."
3. Lil Rel Howery as Rod Williams in Get Out
Justin Lubin / Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection, Universal / ©Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection
"I remember my entire theater gasping and whispering, 'NOOOOOOO!' when the flashing lights pull up at the end of Get Out. Then when the TSA friend got out of the car, the entire theater CHEERED."
4. Jonah Hill as an eBay customer in The 40-Year-Old Virgin
"I have money... I just want to purchase these so I can... wear them."
5. Siobhan Fallon Hogan as Beatrice in Men in Black
Sony Pictures Releasing
"I quote many of her lines from this movie to this day lol. She absolutely nailed her small part."
6. Mathieu Kassovitz as the mugger in The Fifth Element
Buena Vista International
"'GIMME THE CASH!!!' You can see Bruce Willis doing his very best not to burst out laughing. 'That's a very nice hat...' 'YOU LIKE IT??!!'"
"His little dance at the end is great."
7. Chris Tucker as Ruby Rod in The Fifth Element
Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection
8. Kathy Lamkin as the Desert Aire Manager in No Country for Old Men
"She took zero shit and even Anton respected it. The Coens are good at unforgettable small roles."
"I also don’t think he respects anyone, I think he hated that woman as he was leaving, but he accepted she 'won' the confrontation, which is just very unusual to him. He couldn’t intimidate her, and he couldn’t kill her in that moment. To him, the situation is probably infuriating."
9. Tom Cruise as Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder
"The character becomes 10x funnier when you realize it’s Tom Cruise in makeup and prosthetics, except for at the end where he’s dancing and it’s literally only funny because it’s Tom Cruise."
10. Evan Peters as Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past
20th Century Fox
"The kitchen scene was so good at creatively using his speed without relying on an ounce of 'superhero strength.' He pokes a cheek here, redirects a bullet there, but there are no big punches or massive lifts. He’s just doing things anybody could do if they had the time, with all the confidence of someone who ALWAYS has time."
11. Harish Patel as Karun Patel in Eternals
Marvel Studios / Disney
"He was 100% my favorite part of that movie! Adorable!"
"The MCU sidekicks are amazing overall, but he is definitely in my top 3. Along with Luis from Ant-Man and Katie from Shang Chi."
12. Drew Barrymore as Casey Becker in Scream
Dimension Films / Courtesy Everett Collection
"I honestly have forgotten the rest of the movie but I can’t forget the opening with Drew Barrymore."
"One of the 3 best opening scenes of all time, for me."
13. Harold Perrineau as Mercutio in Romeo + Juliet
20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection, 20th Century Fox
"That man stole the show, beyond a shadow of a doubt. My favorite character. Hands down. Brings Mercutio to life for me."
14. Sam Rockwell as Guy Fleegman in Galaxy Quest
"God I love Rockwell. He stole Hitchhiker’s Guide too, although it wasn’t really a bit part. Within about a minute he’d turned my least favorite character into my new favorite character."
15. Peter Stormare as Lucifer in Constantine
Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection
"The white suit, dripping oil/acid from his feet, the paleness of him, fuck that scene is so good. When tumblr was a thing I remember saving a bunch of gifs from that scene because it was so metal."
16. Jennifer Coolidge as Paulette in Legally Blonde
MGM / Courtesy Everett Collection
17. John Turturro as Jesus Quintana in The Big Lebowski:
Gramercy Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection
"The Jesus in The Big Lebowski stole his scenes so hard that they gave him his own (ill advised) movie."
"John Turturro always stands out to me in movies. Lebowski, Mr. Deeds, Transformers. Just really good at playing the (generally) good kind of unhinged characters prone to making you want to do a spit-take."
18. Billy Crystal and Carol Kane as Miracle Max and Valerie in The Princess Bride
20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection
"Have fun storming the castle!"
"Carol Kane stole the scene from Billy Crystal — who stole the scene from EVERYONE ELSE."
19. Bill Murray as himself in Zombieland
Sony Pictures Releasing
"I saw that movie without even knowing he was in it and it blew me away...don't know if that could ever happen with all the moviemaking transparency these days."
21. Bronson Pinchot as Serge in Beverly Hills Cop
"Tell Ms. Summers that Mr. Achmed Foley is here—"
"No, no, 'Axel'."
(pause) "Foley's here to see her."
22. Christopher Walken as Captain Koons in Pulp Fiction
Miramax Films / Courtesy Everett Collection
"Nothing like telling a story about 'wearing' a watch up your ass."
23. Alden Ehrenreich as Hobie Doyle in Hail, Caesar!
"Alden Ehrenreich had a relatively small role in Hail, Caesar!, but he stole the show from some pretty big name actors including: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum."
24. Brad Pitt as Floyd in True Romance
Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection
"I don’t think there is a better 'stoner' performance anywhere."
“Don’t forget the cleaning products.” :)
25. Philip Seymour Hoffman as Freddie Miles in The Talented Mister Ripley
"He might have been in the movie for too many scenes to qualify, but he stole every scene in a film that included a murderers row of good young actors."
26. And finally, Paul Brooke as the Rancor keeper in Return of the Jedi
20th Century Fox
"This detail was one of Roger Ebert's favorite parts of the movie."
"This was legit the first time I realized that 'the bad guys' are people with feelings too."
Who else would you add to the list? Tell us in the comments below!
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.