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Happiness Comes In Small Doses, Folks

By Brian Prisco | Lists | August 20, 2010 |

By Brian Prisco | Lists | August 20, 2010 |

There are certain stars that seem to burn brightly when given brief exposure, and yet may fade or twinkle less when overexposed. Sometimes, with just a cameo or a secondary, even tertiary role, an actor’s presence is like a welcome fresh breeze. It’s like tapas, a perfect sampling of their talent and verve that never overstays its welcome.

The following 12 actors are pretty awesome when nibbled as amuse bouche. I’m recognizing the greatness of these actors in ensemble pieces, roles with less screen time, or even just bit parts. That’s not to say all of them should never have leading roles. That’s not to say that there haven’t been better cameo performances. It’s just that when shining in brief glimpses, these actors and actresses tend to be at the top of their game.

Kevin Spacey: Moon, Austin Powers in Goldmember, Glengarry Glen Ross

Jack Black: Anchorman, Run Ronnie Run, Melvin Goes to Dinner, Bob Roberts, High Fidelity, The Jackal, Mars Attacks!

Winona Ryder: Star Trek, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, The Ten

Christopher Meloni: Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, Wet Hot American Summer, 12 Monkeys, Brief Interviews With Hideous Men

Matthew McConaughey: Dazed and Confused, Tropic Thunder

Jane Lynch: Julie & Julia, Talledega Nights, Role Models, Smiley Face, For Your Consideration, Best in Show, “Glee”

Amy Sedaris: Jennifer’s Body, Snow Angels, Romance & Cigarettes

Tom Cruise: Tropic Thunder, Austin Powers in Goldmember, Magnolia

Kelsey Grammer: Middle Men, X-Men: The Last Stand, Toy Story 2, An American Carol, Crazy on the Outside, “The Simpsons”

Will Ferrell: Drowning Mona, The Goods, Wedding Crashers, Austin Powers

Ricky Gervais: Stardust, Night at the Museum, Cemetery Junction, For Your Consideration, “Extras”

Ben Stiller: Happy Gilmore, The Cable Guy, Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny, “Arrested Development,” The Royal Tenenbaums, Heavy Weights