The same faces keep cropping up. CONSTANTINOS PSILLIDES picks his favourite character actors

How many times have you been watching a film and suddenly an actor comes on screen who you have seen in a ton of other films, but you cannot recall his/her name? It’s the guy, from the thing, come on, the one who was like, the villain, you know? The guy! His name is, aaaah, I can’t remember!

Chances are the guy you are looking for is what is known in the industry as a character actor. Casting directors have a hard time finding the perfect lead and a rigorous auditioning process is not ideal when you have a major studio film in your hands with 40-50 speaking roles. On the other hand, since you can’t have a movie without good actors, you turn to character actors. Industry professionals who know their craft, have a wide acting range and can always be depended on to perfectly portray a usually minor role. Sometimes character actors do make it big (Stanley Tucci, Alan Rickman, and JK Simmons were all career character actors) but in general, these are actors whose job is to show up, do their part and move on. Thus a character actor is not a well-paid one but is in high demand. In an industry where almost everyone who tries to break in fails, a steady acting job is a dream for many aspiring actors.

Here is a list with character actors so you can show off to your friends the next time you see them on screen!

Walton Goggins

Do you want your movie to have an antagonist everyone loves to hate? Do you have an opening for a truly despicable part, preferably with a Southern accent? You go with Walton Goggins. Goggins started his acting career in the cop procedural The Shield and went on to have a successful career as “that guy”. From Lincoln to the racist cowboy in Django, from Tomb Raider to a minor villain in Ant-Man and the Wasp, Goggins keeps delivering top performances.

Christopher McDonald

Yup, that’s his name. McDonald is the ultimate “that guy” actor, having played in more than 100 films and appearing regularly on TV since 1978! McDonald’s body of work is enormous and anyone who was raised in the 90s would instantly recognise his face. Usually playing an antagonist, McDonald got his breakout role in Thelma and Louise and has been working in the industry since then, non-stop.

Juliette Lewis

Right at the start of her career, Juliette Lewis was immensely successful, due to her roles in Scorsese’s Cape Fear, DiCaprio breakout movie What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and Natural Born Killers. In the mid-90s, if the script required a beautiful, dangerous female character, Lewis was on top of the list. Recently she has made a comeback with HBO’s Yellowjackets, proving that she is more than an “oh that’s what’s her name” actress.

Dermot Mulroney

The undisputed master of two completely unrelated genres – rom-coms and westerns! Mulroney is always there if you need a tough cowboy or a failed love interest, one that pushes the protagonist into the arms of the leading man. You recognise him instantly, Google his name, say to yourself “Oh so that’s who he is” and proceed to immediately forget about him. Who were we talking about?

Stephen Tobolowsky

The character actor to end all character actors. From Groundhog Day to Grace and Frankie, Tobolosky was always there when a director needed a reliable minor character for the script. Goofy, loveable and sometimes creepy, Tobolosky has been making his talent available since the 70s and has never stopped working!

tv col2 lin shayeLin Shaye

If you are a fan of horror films, you know Lin Shaye. A scream queen in her own right, Shaye has been working since she first had a part in Nightmare on Elm Street back in 1984 and has been going strong ever since. More recently Shaye played in Insidious: Red Door, the fifth movie in the Insidious universe.

William Fichtner

Is Walton Goggins busy and you still need a creepy-looking villain? William Fichtner is your second-best bet. Mainly known for his role as Alexander Mahone in Prison Break, Fichtner has a long history of playing either villains or a background heroic character. Close to the leading man, never the leading man. Fichtner is an amazing actor and if he shows up in your film or series, you KNOW is going to be good!