The best show-stealing performances in movie history


Some might say that actors were born to steal the scene, but when you put them up against each other, it isn’t always that easy. That means that some of the best actors have been left in the shadows thanks to the shining lights of others. We’re taking a look at some of the bests show-stealing performances from legendary actors in movie history.

Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight (2008)

Before he was The Joker in The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger was well-known in the acting community. He had always been a good actor and was famed for his role in Brokeback Mountain, but it was his turn as Batman’s arch-enemy that won him plaudits.

This all came on the back of Ledger’s untimely passing. He was the standout performer of the entire film and he won an Oscar for his role, though sadly he wasn’t alive to enjoy the accolades that came with it.

Viola Davis – Doubt (2008)

Viola Davis might be a household name today, but back in 2008, she was still making it. Although she was only in the drama Doubt for a few brief scenes, she received an Oscar nomination for her impact. Davis’ performance is one filled with compassion for her son who is alleged to be having relations with a priest in the conservative 1960s. She perfectly captures the love of a mother who knows her son is born into a life of misery.

Dennis Hopper – True Romance (1993)

Christopher Walken actually features in this scene too, but it’s acting legend Dennis Hopper who steals the limelight. Walken, a mob boss, is trying to extract information from Hopper, a cop, in the only way he seems to know how, torture. Hopper doesn’t give into the questioning, instead trying to protect his son and his girlfriend. He then delivers a great monologue insulting the mob boss despite knowing he won’t be making it out alive.

Christopher Walken – Pulp Fiction (1994)

If you haven’t seen Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, then you really ought to, if for no reason other than Christopher Walken’s cameo. The film itself is over 2 hours long, but it is this short five minutes we spend with Walken that truly steals the show.

In his distinctive voice he retells the story of how he smuggled Butch’s precious watch from a POW camp after his father passed away. You find out a lot more about this character, and watch, than you ever expected.

Robert Carlyle – Trainspotting (1996)

Never has someone been so terrifyingly unhinged onscreen that we actually feared for our lives until Robert Carlyle portrayed Begbie in Trainspotting. The Scottish character was so scary that there was always a threat of violence. Anyone who has seen the film will remember with horror the bar fight which begins with Begbie throwing a beer glass onto someone’s head and descends into chaos.

These stars turned up to the set and put everyone else in their place. They were not always in their productions for a long time, but after the movie was over, they were all anyone could talk about.