50 Greatest Scene Stealing Performances

Robin Williams Aladdin (1992)

The Performance: All razzmatazz and verbal volleyball, Robin Williams’ hysterical turn as the genie in this fairytale animation makes the film – can you imagine it without him?

If They Had Their Own Movie: It would be an exhausting 90 minutes of shapeshifting japes.

Jamie Lee Curtis True Lies (1994)

The Performance: Notable mostly for that one scene in which Curtis’ frumpy housewife performs a sultry dance in her underwear for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

To be fair, the character’s transformation from housewife to ass-kicker is the film’s most interesting subplot – and that’s all down to Curtis.

If They Had Their Own Movie: You’ve seen Barb Wire , right? “Don’t call me babe.”

Dennis Hopper True Romance (1993)

The Performance: Though he’s up against Christopher Walken’s gangster and Gary Oldman’s pimp for ‘best supporting performance in True Romance ’, Hopper outshines them all with his brief but bruising turn as a father who’ll do anything for his son.

Yes, even get beaten into a bloody pulp.

If They Had Their Own Movie: It would be called True Blue and follow Clifford Worley (Hopper) through his training as a cop.

Melissa McCarthy Bridesmaids (2011)

The Performance: Mannish, perky, confident, McCarthy broke all the moulds as Megan, Lillian’s one-liner-spewing sister-in-law-to-be.

If They Had Their Own Movie: It would be a thriller following Megan’s day-to-day life working for the government – and all the ensuing calamities.

Most of them puppy-related.

Lawrence Fishburne Boyz N The Hood (1991)

The Performance: Even his name’s awesome, Fishburne playing ‘Furious’ Styles, father to high-schooler Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.)

Another fine example of a fantastic movie dad, Furious deals in mind-bending monologues and merciless gun-slinging. Epic.

If They Had Their Own Movie: It’d be called Furious N The Hood , and it’d be awesome.

Meryl Streep The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

The Performance: “By all means, move at a glacial pace, you know how that thrills me,” drawls Streep as fashion maven Miranda Priestly.

As you’d expect from the Oscar-hogger, it’s a darkly comic turn that is utterly bewitching. Anne Hathaway didn’t have a hope.

If They Had Their Own Movie: You’d have to wear a fur coat while watching it to survive Priestly’s frosty demeanour – brrr.

Christian Bale The Fighter (2010)

The Performance: After whittling his frame down until he resembled a walking stick insect, a near-unrecognisable Bale went on to steal the spotlight from bulked-up co-star Mark Wahlberg in what is surely one of his most accomplished performances.

If They Had Their Own Movie: Well, you’d have to find him first – Dicky (Bale) has a habit of disappearing.

Jeff Goldblum Jurassic Park (1993)

The Performance: Smart but showy with it and not above blathering on even when nobody’s listening, Goldblum’s chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm is a support player whose personality is almost as big as the resurrected reptiles he ends up running from.

He’s also, inadvertently, right about everything. “Life found a way…”

If They Had Their Own Movie: We got that in The Lost World.

It didn’t work…

Jack Black High Fidelity (2000)

The Performance: “Rob, I’m telling you this for your own good, that’s the worst fuckin’ sweater I’ve ever seen; that’s a Cosby sweater.”

Though High Fidelity is all about John Cusack’s mopey record store owner, it’s Black who gets all the best lines – and walks away with the film.

If They Had Their Own Movie: It would be directed by Judd Apatow and add poignant layers to this ‘musical moron twin’.

Harvey Keitel Pulp Fiction (1994)

The Performance: Another one-scene wonder, Keitel appears briefly in Tarantino’s film as Winston Wolf aka ‘The Wolf’, who helps Vincent and Jules clean up their car after they accidentally kill Marvin in the back seat.

If They Had Their Own Movie:
If any Tarantino bit-parter deserves their own movie, it’s The Wolf – we’re imaging a grubbier version of Sunshine Cleaning.

Josh Winning has worn a lot of hats over the years. Contributing Editor at Total Film, writer for SFX, and senior film writer at the Radio Times. Josh has also penned a novel about mysteries and monsters, is the co-host of a movie podcast, and has a library of pretty phenomenal stories from visiting some of the biggest TV and film sets in the world. He would also like you to know that he "lives for cat videos..." Don't we all, Josh. Don't we all.