Best Character Actors

This isn't in any particular order yet, except Denis O'Hare deserves the top spot if anyone does. I may still add a few more if I think of anyone I've missed or if anyone reminds me, so please feel free to comment with suggestions.
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3.
David Morse
David Morse, a 6' 4" tall blue-eyed blond who performed on stage for 10 years before breaking into film, became established as a respected supporting, character actor and second lead. He was born the first of four children of Charles, a sales manager, and Jacquelyn Morse, a schoolteacher, on October 11...
 
4.
Molly Parker
Actress, The Road
Molly Parker, the extremely talented and versatile Canadian actress is best known in the United States for playing the Western widow "Alma Garret" on the cable-TV series Deadwood. Raised on a commune, she described as "a hippie farm" in Pitt Meadows, B.C., Parker got the acting bug when she was 16 years old...
 
9.
Clea DuVall
Actress, Argo
Clea DuVall was born in Los Angeles on September 25, 1977, to Rosemary (Hatch) and actor Steph DuVall. DuVall's teenage years presented her with many challenges. Her parents divorced when she was twelve, and, when her mother remarried, DuVall moved out because she did not feel at home in the newly-reconstituted family...
 
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11.
Stephen Rea
Stephen Rea was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He attended Belfast High School and the Queen's University, where he studied English. He later trained at the Abbey Theatre School in Dublin. In 1970s, he acted in the Focus Company in Dublin with the talented Gabriel Byrne and Colm Meaney. After several stage...
 
12.
Ted Levine
Born in Bellaire, Ohio, in May, 1957, he was among the last graduating class of the Windsor Mountain School in Lennox, Massachusetts. Attended Marlboro College in Vermont. Performed in summer stock and regional theatres in Vermont, Michigan and West Virginia before settling in Chicago and joining The Remains ensemble...
 
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14.
J.K. Simmons
Actor, Whiplash
J.K. Simmons is an American actor. He was born Jonathan Kimble Simmons in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, to Patricia (Kimble), an administrator, and Donald William Simmons, a music teacher. He attended the Ohio State University, Columbus, OH; University of Montana, Missoula, MT (BA in Music). He had originally planned to be a singer and studied at the University of Montana to become a composer...
 
15.
Jane Adams
Jane Adams has performed theatre at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. The plays include "Love Diatribe", "The Nice and the Nasty", and "Greetings From Elsewhere Cabaret". She also performed in "Careless Love" at the Empty Space Theatre, "Candide/Len Jenkin" at the Pioneer Square Theatre", "Talking With" at the Group Theatre and "Camino Real" at the Juilliard School...
 
17.
M. Emmet Walsh
Wonderfully talented, heavyset character actor (from New York, but regularly playing Southerners) M. Emmet Walsh has made a solid career of playing corrupt cops, deadly crooks, and zany comedic roles since the early 1970s. Michael Emmet Walsh was born in Ogdensburg, to Agnes Katharine (Sullivan) and Harry Maurice Walsh...
 
18.
Bryan Cranston
Bryan Lee Cranston is an American actor, voice actor, writer and director. He is perhaps best-known for his roles as "Walter White" on the AMC drama series, Breaking Bad, for which he has won four consecutive Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Emmy Awards, and as "Hal", the father on the Fox situation comedy...
 
19.
Michael Pitt
Michael Carmen Pitt (born April 10, 1981) is an American actor, model and musician. He is of English and Italian heritage. A casting agent, whom Pitt mistook as a police officer attempting to arrest him, noticed him and recommended him for a guest role on the television series Dawson's Creek (he played Henry Parker in 15 episodes between 1999 and 2000) In 2005...
 
20.
Delroy Lindo
Actor, Up
On the stage and on the big screen, Delroy Lindo projects a powerful presence that is almost impossible to ignore. Alhough it was not his first film role, his portrayal of the bipolar numbers boss West Indian Archie in Spike Lee's Malcolm X is what first attracted attention to Lindo's considerable talents. Since then, his star has slowly been on the rise...
 
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22.
Camryn Manheim
Actress, The Practice
Camryn grew up in Peoria, Illinois. Her mother, Sylvia, was a schoolteacher and her father, Jerry, was a math professor. She developed an interest in acting after working at a Renaissance Fair at age 16. She earned a Master's Degree in Fine Arts from New York University in 1987. She studied acting at the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School in Chelsea...
 
23.
Harry Dean Stanton
Actor, Alien
Prolific character actor Harry Dean Stanton's drooping, weather-beaten appearance and superb acting talent have been his ticket to appearing in over 100 films, and 50 TV episodes. Stanton was born in West Irvine, Kentucky, to Ersel (Moberly), a cook, and Sheridan Harry Stanton, a barber and tobacco farmer...
 
24.
Victor Garber
Actor, Titanic
Victor Garber has been in some of the most memorable projects of the past four decades. Victor is currently appearing in The Slap, The Flash, Motive and Web Therapy. He will soon star in Greg Berlanti's new Untitled DC Comics Superhero series for Warner Bros/CW. He has shared in two Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award® nominations for Outstanding Motion Picture Cast...
 
25.
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Chiwetel Ejiofor is an English actor. He is known for his portrayal of Okwe in Dirty Pretty Things (2002), the Operative in Serenity (2005), Lola in Kinky Boots (2005), Luke in Children of Men (2006), Dr. Adrian Helmsley in 2012 (2009) and Dr. Vincent Kapoor in The Martian (2015). He played Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave (2013)...
 
26.
Bruce McGill
Actor, Collateral
Bruce McGill grew up in San Antonio, Texas. His mother, Adriel Rose (née Jacobs) is an artist, and his father, Woodrow Wilson McGill, is a real estate and insurance agent. He graduated from Douglas MacArthur High School San Antonio and from The University of Texas at Austin with a degree in drama. His love for acting stems back to elementary school...
 
27.
James Rebhorn
James Robert Rebhorn (September 1, 1948 - March 21, 2014) was an American actor who appeared in over 100 films, television series, and plays. At the time of his death, he had recurring roles in the current series White Collar and Homeland. An early performance was in Butterflies are Free at the Peterborough Players in New Hampshire in 1974...
 
28.
Joe Morton
Joe Morton was born on October 18, 1947 in New York, New York, USA. He is a television, film, and theater actor, best known for The Brother from Another Planet, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Eureka, and Scandal. He also writes and directs, and is a singer/songwriter.
 
29.
John Carroll Lynch
John Carroll Lynch was born August 1st, 1963 in Boulder, Colorado. He was raised in Denver Colorado. It was there John found a passion for acting and became a Denver Broncos fan. He graduated in the mid-80s with a B.F.A. in theatre from the The Catholic University of America / Hartke Theatre Acting program...
 
30.
Will Patton
Will Patton was born in Charleston, South Carolina. His father, Bill Patton, is a playwright, acting/directing instructor, and Lutheran minister. Patton attended the North Carolina School of the Arts. He has won two OBIE awards for best actor for the off-Broadway plays, Sam Shepard's "Fool for Love" and the Public Theatre production of "What Did He See?".
 
31.
Allison Janney
Actress, The West Wing
Allison Janney is an award-winning actress who has earned a solid reputation in stage productions and in many supporting roles on screen, and who more recently has become prominent by portraying one of the major characters in the popular TV series The West Wing. Entertainment Weekly magazine describes Janney's screen presence as "uncommonly beautiful and infinitely expressive"...
 
32.
CCH Pounder
Actress, Avatar
CCH Pounder (the CCH standing for Carol Christine Hilaria, her birth name). As can be said of other similarly styled actresses such as Alfre Woodard and Cicely Tyson, most of Pounder's characters are enriched with these same positive attributes and it is a testament to this actress' abilities that she continues on such a high plane in a nearly three-decade career...
 
33.
Patricia Clarkson
This remarkable, one-of-a-kind actress has, since the early 1990s, intrigued film and TV audiences with her glowing, yet careworn eccentricity and old world-styled glamour. Very much in demand these days as a character player, Patricia Clarkson nevertheless continues to avoid the temptation of money-making mainstream filming while reaping kudos and acting awards in out-of-the-way projects...
 
34.
Luis Guzmán
Actor of Puerto Rican descent who made many memorable films in the 1980s due to his villainous persona. Presently resides with his wife and many kids in Vermont.
 
35.
Matt Craven
Canadian-born actor Matt Craven is among the most sought after character actors of film and television today, starring in such blockbuster critically acclaimed films as the Academy-Award-nominated "Crimson Tide" and "A Few Good Men" and SAG Award nominated "X-Men: First Class." Craven has starred opposite great Hollywood actors such as Denzel Washington...
 
36.
Amanda Plummer
Actress, Pulp Fiction
The daughter of Canadian actor Christopher Plummer and American actress Tammy Grimes, Amanda Plummer was born in New York City on March 23, 1957. Her breakthrough role came when she starred opposite Robin Williams in The Fisher King. However, Plummer may be best remembered for her work in the Quentin Tarantino classic Pulp Fiction...
 
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40.
Giancarlo Esposito
Music Department, The Electric Company
Giancarlo Giuseppe Alessandro Esposito was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, to an Italian carpenter/stagehand father from Naples and an opera-singing African-American mother from Alabama. His parents, working in Europe at the time of his birth, settled in Manhattan by the time he was six, and that's where he grew up...
 
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43.
Linda Hunt
Veteran character actress Linda Hunt was Born April 2, 1945 in Morristown, New Jersey to Raymond Davy Hunter and Elsie Doying Hunter. She attended the Interlochen Arts Academy, and the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago (now part of DePaul University). Her film debut was in Robert Altman's Popeye...
 
44.
John Hawkes
John Hawkes was born John Marvin Perkins in Alexandria, Minnesota, to Patricia Jeanne (Olson) and Peter John Perkins, a farmer. He is of British and Scandinavian descent. John moved to Austin, Texas to begin his career as an actor and musician. He co-founded the Big State Productions Theatre Company and appeared in the group's original play...
“ This excellent actor first caught my eye on the television series, The Practice, several years ago. He is now quickly emerging as a leading actor in films such as The Sessions, but because most of his roles so far have been smaller, supporting ones, he still makes this list. ” - rubyfruit76
 
45.
Piper Laurie
Actress, Carrie
Piper Laurie was born Rosetta Jacobs in Detroit, Michigan, on January 22, 1932, to Charlotte Sadie (Alperin) and Alfred Jacobs, a furniture dealer. Her father was a Polish Jewish immigrant and her mother was of Russian Jewish descent. Her father moved the family to Los Angeles, California, when she was 6-years-old...
 
46.
Conchata Ferrell
It took 30 years since it was first predicted, but Conchata Ferrell finally achieved television stardom, albeit of the supporting variety, as the housekeeper "Berta" in the situation-comedy Two and a Half Men. Ferrell originally had been tipped for stardom with her turn as the prostitute "April" in the Norman Lear-produced series Hot L Baltimore...
 
47.
Pruitt Taylor Vince
Vince first started to get noticed for his excellent performances at the start of his career in Shy People and Mississippi Burning. In both these films he played something of a blathering redneck idiot, although there was a streak of pathos in both performances which made it impossible to dismiss his characters as just 'bad' people...
 
48.
Margo Martindale
Margo Martindale was born July 18, 1951 in Jacksonville, Texas, to Margaret (Pruitt) and William Everett Martindale, a lumber company owner and dog handler. She is the youngest of three children, and the only daughter. Margo attended Lon Marris College, and later transferred to University of Michigan at Ann Arbor...
 
49.
William Sanderson
Prolific and versatile character actor William Sanderson was born on January 10, 1944, in Memphis, Tennessee. His mother was an elementary school teacher and his father was a landscape designer. William served two years in the US Army. Following his military service he attended Southern Methodist University...
 
50.
Michael Kenneth Williams
Born in Brooklyn, to an African American father from South Carolina and a Bahamian mother from Nassau, Michael K. Williams was raised in the Vandaveer housing projects in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York City and attended George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School. According to a DNA analysis, he is descended partly from the Mende people of Sierra Leone...
 
52.
Dan Hedaya
Dan Hedaya is a familiar face from his work in films and on TV, where he often plays a villain (although he had a good comic turn as the charmingly sleazy Nick Tortelli, Carla's ex-husband, in Cheers and its short-lived spin-off The Tortellis). He has also done much stage work, appearing...
 
53.
Bruce Davison
Actor, X-Men
With his blond, clean-cut, Ivy League handsomeness and ready-whipped smile reminiscent of Kennedyesque times, actor Bruce Davison fits the prototype of today's more current crop of fresh-faced, likable blonds such as Brian Kerwin and Aaron Eckhart. While it proved difficult at times for the actor to get past those perfect features and find meatier roles...
 
54.
Tony Shalhoub
Actor, Monk
Anthony Marcus Shalhoub was born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin. His father, Joe Shalhoub, who owned a grocery chain, emigrated from Lebanon to the United States as an orphan at the age of ten, later marrying Shalhoub's mother, Helen (Seroogy), who herself was born in Wisconsin, to Lebanese parents...
 
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56.
Philip Baker Hall
Philip Baker Hall was born in Toledo, Ohio, to Berdene (McDonald) and William Alexander Hall, a factory worker who was originally from Montgomery, Alabama. He did not start acting until he was 30 years old, and shot to cult fame when he turned in an electrifying performance as Sydney, the veteran gambler...
 
57.
Goran Visnjic
Actor, ER
Goran Visnjic is a Croatian American actor and producer, born in Sibenik, Croatia, Yugoslavia. He is married to Eva Visnjic (formerly Ivana Vrdoljak) with whom has three children. From an early age Visnjic started appearing in various theater plays. At the age of 16, he had his screen debut in the film Braca po materi In 1990...
 
59.
Jane Alexander
Actress, The Ring
Angular in features, reserved in demeanor and more-or-less plaintive in appearance, actress Jane Alexander's has played down the glamor card for the most part. Her true brilliance has come from the remarkable range and depth of her talent. Heralded as one of the finest 70s actresses to arrive in films following a towering Broadway success...
 
61.
Kathy Baker
For someone who has made an award-winning impact in all three mediums (stage, film and TV), actress Kathy Baker has been strangely denied all-out stardom, yet continues to demonstrate her versatility in whatever material comes her way. The comely blonde was born Katherine Whitton Baker in Midland, Texas...
 
62.
Wallace Shawn
Actor, Toy Story
American character actor and writer Wallace Shawn has one of those fun, mischievously homely faces just made to entertain. Though he got out of the starting gate rather slowly, he has since excelled on stage, television and film while managing to turn himself into a winner with his loser-type looks...
 
63.
Desmond Harrington
Actor, Dexter
Desmond Harrington was raised in the Bronx New York. Prior to acting Desmond attended Manhattan college briefly, worked as a laborer, landscaper, a cold caller at a brokerage firm, and finally a bartender in Manhattan, where a co-worker invited him to attend an acting class. Harrington landed his first role in Luc Besson's The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc.
 
64.
Kathryn Joosten
Kathryn is best known for her portrayals of "Karen McCluskey" on Desperate Housewives on ABC and of "Mrs. Landingham", secretary to the President (Martin Sheen), on the critically-acclaimed NBC drama, The West Wing. She has also recurred on Dharma & Greg, and guest-starred on many hit television series...
 
65.
Merritt Wever
Merritt Wever grew up in downtown New York and has been acting since she was very young. She graduated from LaGuardia High School and then attended Sarah Lawrence College. She was raised by her mother to be politically progressive. When not acting or protesting, Merritt enjoys spending time with her cat Spooky or going to the theater with a friend...
 
66.
Hector Elizondo
Hector Elizondo was born in New York City, New York, where he was raised, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He is the son of Carmen Medina Reyes and Martín Echevarría Elizondo. Hector is of Basque and Puerto Rican descent, and "Elizondo" means "at the foot of the church" in Basque. His lifestyle in his pre-acting days was as diverse as the roles he plays today...
 
68.
Gary Basaraba
Gary Basaraba left the Yale School of Drama and began his career working for many of the most highly acclaimed directors of our times. His career has spanned all genres of film and television from cutting edge art film such as "The Last Temptation of Christ" to beloved classics such as "Fried Green Tomatoes" and the popular animated series of Smurf films...
 
70.
Glenne Headly
Actress, Don Jon
For the past fourteen years, she has said that family has been the most important thing to her and she has set most of her time aside to be a "present" mother to her son. Movies, plays and television are chosen, for the most part, when they occur in town or on a school break. She has taken the current year to homeschool her son for his seventh grade...
 
71.
Richard Masur
Actor, The Thing
Masur has also been active in the theatre with increasing frequency. His Broadway debut was in The Changing Room by David Storey (1973). More recently, Masur returned to Broadway in Michael Frayn's Democracy (2004-05), and, among his many off-Broadway and regional theatre appearances, are recent major roles in A Feminine Ending by Sarah Treem (Playwrights Horizons - 2007)...
 
72.
Sonja Sohn
Actress, The Wire
 
73.
Michael Peña
Peña was born and raised in Chicago, to Nicolasa, a social worker, and Eleuterio Peña, who worked at a button factory. His parents were originally from Mexico, his mother from Charcas in San Luis Potosí and his father from Villa Purificación in Jalisco. After graduating from high school, he went to an open casting call for the Peter Bogdanovich feature To Sir, with Love II...
 
74.
Elias Koteas
Elias Koteas was born on March 11, 1961, in Montreal, Canada. Both his parents are of Greek descent. Elias attended Vanier College in Montreal before leaving to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City in 1981, of which he is a graduate. He also attended the Actors Studio in New York City...
 
75.
Holland Taylor
Holland Taylor was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the third-born (and last) daughter of her mother, Virginia (Davis), a painter, and the only child of her father, C. Tracy Taylor, an attorney. She spent her teen years in nearby Allentown, PA, where Holland got the nickname, "Penny Taylor" because of her coppery hair color...
 
76.
Tom Noonan
Actor, Heat
Offbeat character actor Tom Noonan started off his career in various theater troupes that utilized his skills as a guitarist and composer. A graduate from Yale's acting school, he founded the Paradise Theatre in 1983, which was instrumental later in his growth as an artist. Gravitating toward film and TV in the 80s...
 
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80.
Bill Cobbs
Bill Cobbs was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, where his parents were hard-working people, who instilled in him a sense of self-reliance and humility. As an amateur actor in the city's Karamu House Theater, he starred in the Ossie Davis play "Purlie Victorious". Cobbs was an Air Force radar technician for eight years; he also worked in office products at IBM and sold cars in Cleveland...
 
82.
Amy Madigan
In the 1960s, Amy attended St. Philip Neri grammar school and Aquinas High School, both in Chicago, where she performed in school plays and was known as the school tomboy. In the early 1970s, Amy was featured in Playboy Magazine wearing only jelly, to promote her music band, Jelly. Amy is the daughter of John Madigan, a media personality in Chicago, Illinois.
 
83.
Bebe Neuwirth
Actress, Jumanji
Beatrice "Bebe" Neuwirth is the daughter of Sydney Anne, an artist, and Lee Paul Neuwirth, a mathematician. Born and raised in Princeton, New Jersey, she started out as a dancer. Her New York career started out in "A Chorus Line". She won a Tony Award for her part in "Sweet Charity" and two Emmy Awards...
 
84.
Jennifer Esposito
Actress, Crash
Jennifer Esposito was born on April 19, 1973 in Brooklyn, New York, to Phyllis, an interior decorator, and Robert Esposito, a computer consultant and music producer. Esposito launched her career with an appearance on Law & Order in 1996. She went on to play the character of "Stacey Paterno" in 36 episodes on the hit TV series, Spin City, starring alongside Michael J. Fox...
 
85.
Sandra Oh
Sandra Oh was born to Korean parents in the Ottawa suburb of Nepean, Ontario, Canada. Her father, Oh Junsu, a businessman, and her mother, Oh Young-nam, a biochemist, were married in Seoul, South Korea. They both attended graduate school at the University of Toronto. Sandra began her career as a ballet dancer and eventually studied drama at the National Theatre School in Montreal...
 
86.
David Paymer
One of modern TV and moviedom's most sturdy and reliable character actors, David Paymer dreamed of being an actor from early childhood. Although he came from a traditional middle-class Jewish family that urged him to become a doctor or lawyer, Paymer felt more at home in the world of the thespian. At 14...
 
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88.
Anthony Mackie
Anthony Mackie is an American actor. He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Martha (Gordon) and Willie Mackie, Sr., who owned a business, Mackie Roofing. Anthony has been featured in feature films, television series and Broadway and Off-Broadway plays, including Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Drowning Crow...
 
89.
Frances Fisher
Actress, Titanic
Frances Fisher began by apprenticing at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia. She spent 14 years based in New York City, playing leads in over 30 productions of plays by such noted writers as John Arden, Noël Coward, Emily Mann, Joe Orton, Sam Shepard, William Shakespeare, Jean Claude Van Italie...
 
90.
Alfred Molina
Alfred Molina was born in 1953 in London, England. His mother, Giovanna (Bonelli), was an Italian-born cook and cleaner, and his father, Esteban Molina, was a Spanish-born waiter and chauffeur. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. His stage work includes two major Royal National Theatre productions...
 
91.
Oliver Platt
Oliver Platt was born in Windsor, Ontario, to American parents, Sheila Maynard, a social worker, and Nicholas Platt, a career diplomat. His parents were both from upper-class families, and his maternal great-grandmother, Cynthia Roche, was the sister of Princess Diana's maternal grandfather, Maurice Roche...
 
92.
Roma Maffia
Actress, Nip/Tuck
From a hit television drama to a medley of feature films, Roma Maffia graces the entertainment mediums with her trademark sophistication and charismatic appeal. Roma portrays the smart, no-nonsense anesthesiologist, 'Dr. Liz Cruz,' on the hit FX drama, "Nip/Tuck." 'Liz' has earned the respect of her physician colleagues...
 
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97.
Peter Dinklage
Peter Hayden Dinklage was born in Morristown, New Jersey, to Diane (Hayden), an elementary school teacher, and John Carl Dinklage, an insurance salesman. He is of German, Irish, and English descent. In 1991, he received a degree in drama from Bennington College and began his career. He continues to work in the theatre with roles in "The Killing Act", "Imperfect Love", and "Richard III"...
 
99.
Celia Weston
Actress, The Village
Direct from Spartanburg, South Carolina, this tall, blonde actress may not exude shimmering star potential, but she certainly has earned the respect of stage and film audiences alike for her many touching portrayals of matter-of-fact, down-to-earth Southern folk. For someone who first attracted attention...
“ Thank you to Brandon Ashcraft for the recommendation. He's so right -- a few days ago I saw "Snow Falling on Cedars" for the first time, and was reminded of her how accomplished her performances were in "Dead Man Walking" and "In the Bedroom," among others. ” - rubyfruit76
 
100.
Bobby Cannavale
Actor, Ant-Man
In both career and in real life, Bobby Cannavale tends to choose the unconventional way of doing things. In the beginning, his decisions may have cost the dark, swarthily good-looking actor some acting roles and/or good-paying money but, in the end, his strong work ethic and sense of self, despite a lack of formal training...