10 Best Unsung Actors From Each Movie Genre

The Hollywood Walk of Fame needs a serious upgrade.

Gremlins Dick Miller
Warner Bros.

Earlier this year, Daniel Dae Kim raised over $50,000 in an effort to get fellow actor James Hong a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Hong, now 91, has over 400 credits on IMDB and has played East Asian characters since the fifties. Notably, he was in Big Trouble in Little China, Blade Runner and Chinatown, but that's barely scratching the surface.

Getting Hong his own star in a noble cause, and fitting for Kim, who has become something of a well-known character actor himself. After appearing in episodes of 24, he scored a recurring role as Jin on Lost, followed a long run on Hawaii Five-O. The latter role would end in heated controversy, after Kim and Grace Park learned they were being paid less than their caucasian co-stars.

Actors often talk of typecasting as a pitfall to be avoided. In Hong's case, despite his unquestionably impressive talent, he often found himself limited to supporting roles and villainous turns. But there are others that have existed happily playing the same parts for years.

Take Stephen Tobolowsky, arguably America's most well-known character actor. While his name may not be recognizable, his appearances in Groundhog Day, Sneakers, Memento and Spaceballs have made him a legend. The fact that he's one of the most charismatic actors around and a great orator with the experience to have some stunning anecdotes has led to a podcast and two documentaries.

Here are a few others who specialized in certain roles that deserve their own stars.

10. Jack Warden - Legal Thrillers

Gremlins Dick Miller
Warner Bros.

The courtroom thriller became a staple not long after Edgar Allen Poe's Murders in Rue Morgue, arguably the first detective story. Charles Dickens would write barely disguised stories based on cases ripped from the headlines, among others. But the court setting didn't really start in earnest, with any sort of cinematic accuracy, with Otto Preminger's 1959 Anatomy of a Murder, from a novel by Michigan Supreme Court Judge John D. Voelker.

Murder was the second film that took gravely the court motions that are now boilerplate for a Law and Order episode. In 1957, Sydney Lumet's adaptation of Reginald Rose's 12 Angry Men showed the court from the jury's POV, and Jack Warden had a seat at the table.

As Juror 7, he was the wise-cracking salesman with Yankees tickets burning a hole in his pocket. In the film, he was more of an audience identifier than Henry Fonda's argumentative Juror 8. Juror 7 may come off as callous but Warden plays it so likeable. He may be easily manipulated, but there's no malice in him.

As Warden aged, he took roles more on the side of justice, appearing as an elderly mentor to Rebecca De Mornay in Guilty as Sin, one of Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman's grouchiest editors in All The President's Men and Warren Beatty's trainer in Heaven Can Wait.

Even when he was the more unhinged judge in ...And Justice For All, packing heat and holding court, he was saner than the rest.


Kenny Hedges is carbon-based. So I suppose a simple top 5 in no order will do: Halloween, Crimes and Misdemeanors, L.A. Confidential, Billy Liar, Blow Out He has his own website - thefilmreal.com - and is always looking for new writers with differing views to broaden the discussion.