It’s both a gift and a curse, the role of the supporting actor: come on too strong and over-the-top and you detract from the main character’s story, looking like an attention seeker. Play it too quietly and you’re forgotten, left by the wayside by more interesting performances.
Supporting character’s can vary from the lead’s best friend, to the big bad villain to the girlfriend; no matter what the nature of the character, it takes a special skill to win the audience over whilst playing a supporting role. Whilst watching a movie the mind is automatically and inevitably drawn to the story of the main character or protagonist, with the outcome of their endeavours proving to be the thing you care about most by the time the credits roll. Everything else is incidental. Over the years however, there have been a few who have stolen the limelight with performances playing off the lead role.
Characters whose screen time proved the most engaging and electrifying over the course of the movie, despite more important things going on around them, and who deserve celebration for making themselves the most memorable thing over the course of a film.
10. Sergeant Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) – The Departed
Martin Scorsese’s dark, action-packed thriller tracks the turbulent lives of double agents Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio as they try and bring down Jack Nicholson’s irresistibly brilliant crime lord. It’s a gritty and tense affair, set in the violent streets of Boston, packed with stars in the shape of the aforementioned actors, as well as impressive turns from Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen and Ray Winstone.
However none of these performances come close to the surprising turn from Mark Wahlberg, playing loudmouthed detective sergeant Dignam. Channelling his Boston roots, Wahlberg is snarling and scathing, rude and volatile as DiCaprio and Damon’s immediate boss, who is the kind of character you can’t help but love. Good with his fists but far more brutal with his mouth, Wahlberg steals absolutely every scene he features in, whether it be exchanging casual and bitter insults with his boss Baldwin, or verbally tearing his work colleagues a new one for any possible mistake they make.
He keeps up a remarkable intensity throughout every moment he spends on screen, exhibiting naked, unashamed rage at everybody who gets in his way. He’s rude, loud and violent, characterising Scorsese’s Boston brilliantly, and proves to be the highlight of an excellent movie.
This article was first posted on September 28, 2012