A showy star performance is easy to recognize and champion. They get a ton of love and sometimes awards. Be it a movie or a TV show, lead performance and main characters get the attention, for obvious reasons. It takes talent and skill to excel in a lead role, but it takes just as much talent to shine in a small role, and in a way that can be more impressive. So I ask you, Vent reader, what is your favorite performance in a small role?
What do I mean by “small” role? I suppose that is up for debate. Obviously, it’s not a main character, and I don’t think it should also be a secondary character. Somebody who is a series regular doesn’t count. Maybe if I give the example that sparked this idea in my head my definition will be clear. I somewhat recently rewatched Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are the stars. They have the main roles. Margot Robbie is also prominently involved. Beyond those three, and maybe Margaret Qualley as Pussycat, everybody else is up for grabs. That includes the person who, to me, gives a great performance in a small role. It’s the fourth best performance in the film, behind Leo, Brad, and Margot. I’m talking about Emile Hirsch as Jay Seabring.
Yes, Hirsch is apparently a creep, so I don’t want to heap too much praise on him. That being said, he is fantastic in Quentin Tarantino’s film. At the end of the movie when Jay and Rick have a conversation? He nails it. The performance is perfect. He doesn’t have a lot to do, but he makes it all engaging and gripping. It takes a ton of skill to do that. Of all the tertiary characters in the film, Jay Seabring is the one that jumps to mind first, and it’s because of Hirsch’s performance.
Now you know what I mean, so what’s your answer?