Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Actors with Character, Part 1

posted by Nell Minow

You know them. That is, they look familiar, but you might not be sure if that is because you saw them in a movie or because you saw them on a train. These are character actors, the indispensible performers who are there for the leading men and ladies to talk to, fight with, run from, almost marry, rescue, punch, shoot, chase, or watch die so they can learn an important lesson. They provide comic relief and when it is necessary they die onscreen to give the main character a growth experience. And while they get paid a small fraction of those 7-figure salaries that go to the stars, their contribution to the movie’s power to entertain and inspire is often as great or greater.
I’m going to share some of my favorites in this and upcoming posts and you can learn more about them in Hey! It’s That Guy!.

The films of the 1930′s had some classic character actors who appeared over and over. Here we can see two of the best, Edward Everett Horton (specialty: silly upper class types) and Eric Blore (specialty: looking down on silly upper class types). Do their voices sound familiar? They both provided voice talent for the Rocky and Bullwinkle series.

YouTube Preview Image

“Ball of Fire” is one of my all-time favorites, in part because of its wonderful collection of character actors playing Gary Cooper’s professor colleagues. You can see some of them here including Oscar Homolka, Henry Travers (the angel in “It’s a Wonderful Life”) and the hilariously nasal Richard Hayden.

YouTube Preview Image

More character actors in future posts, and of course I’d love to hear about your favorites.



  • jestrfyl

    Thank goodness for imdb.com! My son and I are constantly arguing (in a fun way) over who that actor is in the background and what other work we know them from. I am better with the pre-90′s stuff and he is much better with recent sightings. The problem with books like this is that they are immediately out of date. So we have imdb set for nearly instant use.

  • iorek

    WAsn’t Eric Blore the owner of a dance instruction studio in some Fred Astaire movie?

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Very good, iorek! One of my favorites, “Swing Time.” Thanks for writing!

  • http://theravelledsleave.blogspot.com Lynn

    Peter Riegert. Loved him as the lead in “Local Hero”, loved him even more as the exasperated cop in “The Mask”.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    A great choice, Lynn! I hope you saw him in “Crossing Delancy” — one of his best.

Previous Posts

Exclusive Clip: Behind the Scenes on "Calvary"
Brendan Gleeson gives a magnificent performance as a warm-hearted priest in a sad and damaged world in "Calvary," opening next week across the country.  Here's an exclusive peek behind the scenes, featuring Gleeson and Director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies Sister Rose Pacatte. [iframe

posted 3:45:01pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Tonight: The Last of Our Pre-Code Series, Jean Harlow in "Red Headed Woman"
Tonight is the last of the Pre-Code films Margaret Talbot and I will be presenting at Washington D.C.'s Hill Center.  And it's a doozy, Jean Harlow in "Red Headed Woman."  We'd love to see you there. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATDif96J5Ms[/youtube] Margaret and I will be back a

posted 3:37:33pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Statler and Waldorf and "Muppets Most Wanted"
Featuring my favorite Muppet characters!  (Probably because they are critics.) [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/U0NpTfwfbCM" frameborder="0"]

posted 12:21:40pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Comic-Con 2014: Costumes!
[gallery ids="28926,28927,28928"] About 10-15 percent of Comic-Con attendees come in costume and they are always willing to post for photos.  I love the way there is total fluidity of age, race, gender, and body type.  Even species -- see Superdog below (no, that's not Krypto -- look at the sup

posted 8:40:49am Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

The Real Story: James Brown and "Ski Party"
One of the highlights of this week's "Get on Up" is a scene where James Brown and his group appear in a teen movie set in a ski chalet. The fun of the scene is seeing the R&B performers so far from their usual milieu, wearing ski sweaters and performing for a bland group of white kids perkily c

posted 8:00:05am Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.