The woman in the picture above probably looks familiar to you. That’s because she’s been in hella shit. She’s appeared on just about every flavor of Law & Order and NCIS there is, but she also had roles in high profile blockbusters like Avatar and Face/Off. She’s a character actress who has been working steadily since her first film role as Nurse Blake in 1979’s All That Jazz. I bet you know who she is and maybe her name is right there on the tip of your tongue… but maybe it’s not. Her name is CCH Pounder and you’ve just been characteractorized!
Character actors are the backbone of the film and television industries. Without them who would deliver all the best lines? I’m looking at you Peggy Pope!
With IMDB pages longer than a Meryl Streep monologue, character actors do much of the heavy lifting in your favorite movies and TV shows, often humbly holding the stars aloft. But just as frequently stealing scenes and chewing scenery with aplomb. You don’t get to the level of Famed Character Actress Margo Martindale without breaking a sweat!
Here are a couple more of my favorite female character actors. I’ll do the same tomorrow for the men. I’ll describe the actor, you see if you can guess their name without peeking. I can guarantee, you will be worse at this than you think.
I’ll start with a lady I saw in real life who unknowingly ruined my trip to the Rijksmuseum when I spied her in the lobby and thought “oh my God, where do I know that woman from?”. I spent the next 30 minutes Googling “older white lady actress” (which apparently only describes Betty White and Dame Judi Dench) to find a picture of her so I could put a name to the face. This actress was most recently in Lady Bird but what I remembered her being in was How To Make An American Quilt starring Winona Ryder. She was also in True Blood as Granny Stackhouse. I bet you can picture her now. But what’s her fucking name!?
I’m talking about the venerable Lois Smith! She’s been working steadily since her big break in 1955’s East of Eden playing opposite James Dean. Lois was also in Five Easy Pieces, Fatal Attraction, Fried Green Tomatoes, and The Nice Guys. And she’s been all over every inch of your television set having been featured on too-many-to-count doctor shows, legal dramas and prestige premium cable series. She may not have crossed the threshold of instant name recognition yet, but it’s not like she hasn’t put in the work.
Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) directed by Jon Avnet written by Fannie Flagg and Carol Sobieski cinematography by Geoffrey Simpson #loissmith #nancymooreatchison #actress #chrisodonnell #actor #friedgreentomatoes #1991 #1990s #jonavnet #director #cinematography #film #movie
Happy Birthday to James Dean (1931-1955). ⭐️️ A screen test with Lois Smith for his first feature film EAST OF EDEN (1955) in 1954. The only film of his which he got to watch in its entirety. 🎬 "The cinema is a very truthful medium because the camera doesn't let you get away with anything."- J.D. 🎞 Video edited by me.
This next lady is a bit of an indie darling. She had memorable turn in Todd Solondz’ Happiness in 1998 and also appeared in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. She’s been in plenty of TV as well including a starring role in HBO’s dick dramady Hung, Fraser, Claws, Family Ties, Sneaky Pete, Easy and the reboot of Twin Peaks. Whew, I’m out of breath. If you need a versatile, quirky gal who can really rock a peasant blouse, then Jane Adams is your man!
Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 where you will finally figure out who that one blondish dude who kind of looks like grown-up Anthony Michael Hall but like with a buzz cut and wears a lot of polo shirts is!
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