5 Underrated Actors Who Don’t Get Enough Credit

%name 5 Underrated Actors Who Dont Get Enough Credit

Sure, you’ve got your Brad Pitts, your Robert Downey Jr.s, your Johnny Depps. And yeah, there’s that chameleon-woman Meryl Streep, the wonderful Helen Mirren, and the now-everywhere Jennifer Lawrence rounding it out on the female side. So what do all these players have in common? Well, they’re stars. They’re the best of the best. They sell tickets. And though we appreciate the great performances they’ve given over the years, sometimes the big stars just get too much credit. What about the other people acting in the movies? The people who you just kind of accept are there time after time. What’s the big deal, you ask? That’s their job, right? They’re not supposed to overshadow the stars, you say?

Well, a lot of these second players still manage to get their dues: Paul Giamatti, Steve Buscemi, Michael Shannon… everyone loves those guys despite the fact that they rarely take the leading roles in big pictures. But so many actors remain vastly unappreciated – so much so that if these guys disappeared into thin air, things just wouldn’t be the same. We’re not saying we should throw Oscars and Golden Globes at them ’til their heads get so big they set themselves upon impromptu rap careers… we just want to say thanks. In our minds, here are 5 underrated actors who don’t get enough credit for their fine work.

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5. Mark Ruffalo

%name 5 Underrated Actors Who Dont Get Enough Credit

Mark Ruffalo reeks of raw likeablity, so much so that it’s easy to take his performances for granted. Unlike many on this list, Ruffalo has been nominated for his fair share of major awards (including an Oscar, which he lost to Christian Bale), but has never picked one up. Ruffalo always brings a life and a vibrancy to his characters, be it as Leonardo DiCaprio’s sidekick in Shutter Island (a difficult part perfectly realised), or through the neurotic mannerisms he uses to nail Bruce Banner with in The Avengers.

As it stands, Ruffalo doesn’t hold much cultural significance and isn’t very well-known amongst wide audiences. A misdemeanor for sure, considering how great an actor he is. A truly underrated performer, let’s hope future Avengers movies bring him a touch more virtue.

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4. Giovanni Ribisi

%name 5 Underrated Actors Who Dont Get Enough Credit

Still probably best-known as Phoebe’s goofy brother in Friends (those reruns will kill you, huh?), Giovanni Ribisi has been putting in consecutively excellent performances since 1997′s Saving Private Ryan, where he played medic Wade. Despite the fact that he’s been good in everything, Ribisi has never been nominated for a major award. And he’s an extremely unselfish actor, completely lacking an ego and willing to play each part the way its works best.

Take Lost In Translation, for example, in which he plays Scarlett Johansson’s vacant but well-meaning husband. It’s such a natural performance that it’s easy to overlook, but Ribisi nails it, making John a human being – despite the fact he only appears on screen for less than 15 minutes.

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3. John C. Reilly

%name 5 Underrated Actors Who Dont Get Enough Credit

John C. Reilly is a rare case in Hollywood, a versatile actor who can flit effortlessly between extremely broad, over-the-top comedy performances, and roles in serious dramas. Reilly himself has made a conscious decision to mix it up throughout the course of his career (as showcased in this brilliant song at the 79th Oscars), though it’s easy to mistake him for a simple gag man.

As Jim Kurring in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, Reilly showed us an intense and vulnerable character, though he failed to be nominated for any solo awards. Recently, in Roman Polanski’s Carnage, he held his own (see video below) against three Academy Award-winners (Christoph Waltz, Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster). Reilly’s big frame and bulldog-looks make him perfect for comedy, but his dramatic turns remain vastly underrated.


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2. John Hawkes

%name 5 Underrated Actors Who Dont Get Enough Credit

John Hawkes has been popping up in movies since the eighties, usually employed to appropriately chew the scenery (From Dusk Till Dawn) or to play quiet, broody types – truly an actor who can work at both ends of the spectrum comfortably. But all the way, despite the fact that he remains little-known, Hawkes has proven himself something of a scene-stealer.

An intelligent, grateful and humble person in real life, Hawkes regularly incorporates those traits into his performances, granting every role a touch of class and honor (even when he’s playing the bad guy). Hawkes was recently nominated for an Oscar for his amazing work in Winters Bone, which may have done well to raise his profile. The Sessions, and Lincoln, two pictures which Hawkes has appeared in recently, might well make him a star. Fingers crossed, John. You deserve it.

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1. Anna Faris

%name 5 Underrated Actors Who Dont Get Enough Credit

Anna Faris is fearless. She’s an utterly selfless performer too, a smart and brilliant comic actor willing to go to whatever lengths to earn her paycheck (and get the laughs): nope, you’ll never catch Anna Faris giving any less than 100% no matter how low-brow the material. Point is, the woman is hilarious, somebody who regularly goes toe to toe with her male equivalents and comes out on top. And though Faris often plays characters whose key traits include dimness or air-headedness, she still manages to make these characters wholly likeable.

There are several performances which highlight Faris as an actor of real talent: take Lost In Translation, where Faris assumes the role of a vacant movie-star, cleverly subverting an audience’s expectations of what she might be like in real life by knowingly throwing herself into the clueless character. Ultimately, Faris has rarely been given the chance to play outside of broad comedy flicks, but we think she’s more than capable of going up against the big guns: after all, she’s a genuine star.

Do you agree or disagree with these choices? Which actors do you consider to be underrated and deserving of a bit more attention? Feel free to let us know what you think in the comment section below. 

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  • http://twitter.com/Glides Glides The Man

    Faris is good, but she needs to fire her agent, since she’s been in nothing but crap lately.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathan-Lack/100000619690152 Jonathan Lack

    I completely agree with Farris. She’s BRILLIANT, has all the inherent qualities to be a massive movie and comedy star, but she never gets good roles. I HATED her comedy “What’s Your Number?” last year, but she was awesome in it. She could be one of the great comedians of this era if only she got roles worthy of her talent.

  • cranium7

    What are you seeing in Farris that I don’t??? I’ve hated literally every single thing she’s ever done!!! She has zero range; playing the exact same character in every film. Are you guys blind!? She a one trick pony who’s trick is terrible.

    Rest of the list is spot on though!!

    • aj

      You should see her in Smileyface. That movie was hilarious. She really can hold her own against any male comedian. She may add fluff to her performances, but can you honestly say she is dislike-able? Aside from the movie House Bunny, I don’t think there is a performance I disliked.

      • Rupert Bubbletrousers

        House Bunny was F’n terrible. But are you guys separating the performance from the movie here? Picture that script on paper…now picture ANYONE reading those lines on camera. Do you really think her performances are bad? If you do, no worries. I’m just saying that I think, with what she’s been given so far too work with, her performances really are pretty solid, although the projects she’s been involved in are pretty much all awful. But there is a difference.

        • thekrane

          I agree, I don’t think amyone but her could have played the parts she did. I believe only a good actor can play them as well as she does. She not hard to look at either :)

    • Jack

      I can understand that she plays similar characters in a few movies she has been in, but even then, anyone with the ability to sit back and appreciate comedy could at the very least see her talent, if not enjoy her performance. Three movies I have seen personally she plays unique characters in are Waiting, Take Me Home Tonight and Observe and Report. I haven’t seen Brokeback Mountain but it’s a safe bet she doesn’t play Cindy from Scary Movie in it.

    • John Chrysostom

      This seems to be the general sentiment about Farris.

    • Veronica Goff

      I, personally LOVE Anna Faris! I think she is beautiful and a fantastic actress. Granted, it is true that she has been attached to some less-tha-stellar projects, but movies like the Scary Movie franchise, Smiley Face and What’s Your Number were pretty much carried by her spot-on comedic talent. Watch the movie May. It’s a B-movie that I don’t think a lot of people have seen. But it is definitely one that I think everyone should see at least once, especially horror fans. Anna has a fairly small part in it, as the lesbian coworker with a crush on the titular character, May. But it is a part that she plays very well. She brings a bit of her comedy flair into it but it is a solid performance that you should definitely check out if you are looking for her range as a non-comedy actress.

  • Jessi Rippetoe

    I agree with all of these (particularly Mark Ruffalo,) though one actor who could’ve easily made this list is Jason Flemyng.

  • Dan

    IMO Sam Rockwell is also very underrated.
    Loved his performances in Moon; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Gentlemen Broncos; Seven Psychopaths; and Galaxy Quest.

  • http://www.facebook.com/va.jayjay.98 Va Jay Jay

    Mark Ruffalo is the thee most underrated actor in Hollywood.

  • http://www.facebook.com/va.jayjay.98 Va Jay Jay

    Wait, John C. Reilly has been around Hollywood for a long time, he is the most underrated actor ever. If you look at his resume of movies, you would be surprised what he has been in. He was in Days of Thunder.

  • Deckard

    John C. Reilly – recently brilliant in “We need to talk about Kevin”, together with the almost-always-brilliant Tilda Swinton (who is, of course, not underrated like him) Seems this guy finally gets the roles he deserves as an actor.

  • Twinkie Bandit

    Patricia Clarkson is one that always seems to fall off the radar. Been nominated for a supporting role Oscar and a bunch of other awards, but never seems to really hit it big in starring roles.

  • http://www.facebook.com/irmaeli Irma Molina

    I love Mark Ruffalo, he should be in more movies in more stellar roles. He’s a great actor! A truly underrated performer… Whyyyyyyyyyy???

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.sutton.3133 Mike Sutton

    Anna Farris may be one of the worst actresses I’ve ever seen. Replace her with Sam Rockwell and I’d completely agree with the list!

    • Mark Machado

      Probable just thought they needed to include a female.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.sutton.3133 Mike Sutton

    Anna Farris may be one of the worst actresses I’ve ever seen. Replace her with Sam Rockwell and I’d completely agree with the list!

  • lucascott

    I would argue that they don’t get ‘enough credit’ because they aren’t seeking credit. Believe it or not, there are many actors/actresses that don’t do this for the celebrity. They do it to act. So they pick roles based on the acting and not the money or the fame potential.

    If along the way they pull a Christian Bale and fine the perfect storm of a great role that also gives them fame, fine. But they don’t seek it out as THE reason they do things

    • Jack

      He never said they did. He said the article was just to say thanks in the intro.

      • Rupert Bubbletrousers

        Agree with Jack. Also though, are you implying that Christian Bale is a great, underrated actor?

  • lucascott

    I would argue that they don’t get ‘enough credit’ because they aren’t seeking credit. Believe it or not, there are many actors/actresses that don’t do this for the celebrity. They do it to act. So they pick roles based on the acting and not the money or the fame potential.

    If along the way they pull a Christian Bale and fine the perfect storm of a great role that also gives them fame, fine. But they don’t seek it out as THE reason they do things

  • Denise

    I think you missed one…Robert Sean Leonard, great as Dr. Wilson on House. And anyone remember Dead Poets Society?

  • Amanda

    I LOVED ana in Just Friends with Ryan Reynolds. She was hilarious! She can play a good ditz lol but I’m very confident she’s not like that in person. I think for the scary movies she was great because it’s kind of about dumb stuff you know and I feel that she made the most out of the character she was given. I love her, not many women in the movie industry can get away with roles like that. Happy Holidays to all!! -Amanda :)

  • tom riddle

    i agree, dan.. sam rockwell should be on the list, he is a great actor.. mark ruffalo played the best hulk i’ve ever seen

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexandra.leonova1 Alexandra Leonova

    Was he the one who played briefly in Dexter’s season 7 (the writer)?

  • RHPS

    Ribisi is a great actor I really love him. I was sure he was a very intelligent and a brilliant man/actor BUT I don’t know how and where I read he’s another of the creepy guys in line to the door of the Dianetics… this is sad.

    • Rupert Bubbletrousers

      Not really relevant though. Just sayin…

  • RHPS

    Ruffalo is a super/mega/hot hairy bear with a sexy voice. I love him.
    Acting very good is the candle on the cake (and what a cake!!!).

  • Concerned Third Party

    SAM ROCKWELL!
    andy serkis would be nice too.

  • drforbes

    One of the greatest and under rated actors of all time is Ed Harris who could go toe to toe with any of the so called superstars!

  • Aradia913

    I think Liev Schreiber and Kevin Corrigan also deserve more recognition. They always elevate the films that they’re in

    • Rupert Bubbletrousers

      Man maybe it’s just me, but I really think that Kevin Corrigan is terrible. He plays a great creepy weirdo in everything. Christopher Walken – Light.

  • Stephanie13

    Garret Dillahunt is also very underrated, he was great in two separate roles on Deadwood, he was scary in the Last House on the Left remake, and he’s funny in Raising Hope.

  • q

    you’ve got to be kidding me. All flipping white guys and one white woman. All great, I agree. Esp the first and the last. But jesus, can’t you get beyond your own white boy experience? pathetic. arggh.

  • The Unicorn Whisperer

    Ben Foster for me. I would say Sam Rockwell as well, but he’s already one of my favorite actors, and gets the respect he deserves by most movie fans, and any review of any film he has been in.

    • NezPacho

      Ben Foster and Sam Rockwell are perfect choices, thank you for your good taste <3

    • NezPacho

      Ben Foster and Sam Rockwell are perfect choices, thank you for your good taste <3

  • Adam

    Absolutely agree with anyone who says Sam Rockwell. I’m not sure if Gary Oldman is underrated but he is amazing and I think deserves to be on every acting list.

    • skunkybeaumont

      Gary Oldman isn’t underrated at all. The man is a very well-respected legend who has been often nominated and has a few notable awards. He, like Samuel L. Jackson, does A LOT of movies so its possible that he seems overlooked because of it.

      • Just Alex

        Getting all those awards and movies means that he is neither over looked or underrated. Gary Oldman has a few awards and movies under his belt. Same with Jackson, amazing actors not underrated.

  • Mruby

    Love Sam Rockwell. Michael Pena deserves some recognition too

  • capper1970

    Paul Dano & Eddie redmayne for sure. I like Ben Foster, but The Mechanic seams to be taking his career to corny unrealistic action movies.

  • Spideysense

    Sam Rockwell, Karl Urban and of course Gary Oldman can be added to this list.

  • Danny Darcy

    Saw Mr Rufello in a Christmas film recently, he was fantastic in it.

  • setron

    William H Macy is missing from this list.

  • Deboo

    Stellan Skarsgaard…. has been under-rated throughout his prolific career… a brilliant and versatile actor

  • turkishberry

    Don’t forget Paul Dano

    • NezPacho

      YES. It’s insane how he went from dweeb in ‘Girl Next Door’ to absolutely killing it in ‘There Will Be Blood’. He is intense and awesome.

  • Cold_War_Relic

    Leaving out Sam Rockwell, Esai Morales and Lenny James is just plain wrong. This list sucks.

  • J

    Anna Faris is amazing. I know it’s hard to separate the low-brow, tongue-in-cheek movies she plays in from her actual performance, but I absolutely feel that she deserves to be on this list. In fact, the only one on this list that I really question is Mark Ruffalo – not because I don’t feel he’s a quality actor – but because I feel that he DOES get recognition for his work (who doesn’t know who Mark Ruffalo is?). Others to consider: Mira Sorvino, Jean Reno, Jamie Foxx, and (as mentioned by several others) Sam Rockwell.

  • Cedrick

    I feel like Rockwell has gotten a good bit of recognition lately. I think Guy Pearce is someone who belongs on this list. He has been good in pretty much everything I’ve ever seen him in but I never seem to hear anyone talking about him.

  • Wiabux

    Great list, the most underrated actor I feel though has to be Sean Bean.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CrazyCharlieMMA Charlie Shields

    Why no Ray Stevenson???

  • mpr91798

    Regina king is an amazing actress and gets no real recognition.

  • DDD

    Ruffalo was Stella Adler’s last Hollywood actor

  • DDD

    Ruffalo was Stella Adler’s last Hollywood actor

  • DDD

    Ruffalo was Stella Adler’s last Hollywood actor

  • DDD

    Ruffalo was Stella Adler’s last Hollywood actor

  • http://www.facebook.com/peterladyfour Peter Iversen

    Sam Rockwell is a great choice but my vote is for Ben Foster! Everything he does is amazing, an EXTREMELY varied. He was the main psych kid in the Bruce Willis vehicle ‘Hostage’, the main character in (the itself vastly underrated) ‘Pandorum’, and played amazingly memorable bit roles as the mortal harbinger in ’30 Days Of Night’ and as the angel in ‘X-Men’. So yeah, he’s one of my favorites. Also, I don’t know if Cillian Murphy could be considered ‘underrated’ but he’s amazing.

  • curt

    i first dscovered mark rufallo’s talent in 13 going 30. later i found out he’s appeared in so many diverse movie genre. he’s great actor. anna faris is awesome. she’s really funny. what’s your number wasnt a great movie but she and mr. evans made the movie worth watching.

  • curt

    i first dscovered mark rufallo’s talent in 13 going 30. later i found out he’s appeared in so many diverse movie genre. he’s great actor. anna faris is awesome. she’s really funny. what’s your number wasnt a great movie but she and mr. evans made the movie worth watching.

  • MatthewMelange

    It feels like anna faris is just on this list because they forgot to add women.

    I like her photo shopped breasts though.

  • Charlez TT

    I suggest Scott Adkins to the list. Very talented in Martial Arts. More handsome than Jason Statham, yet doesn’t really have big movies. Only a few scenes in expendable.

  • XPhoenix01

    Sam Rockwell and the number 1 is Gary oldman

  • blink

    Carla Gugino.

  • Ali Mitchell

    I love Anna Faris. At least she’s getting steady work. Another actress that is overlooked is Claire Danes. I have loved everything she’s been in since Romeo and Juliet. She can actually really act, which is something most big named actresses can’t do lately-excepting Meryl Streep, of course. Terminator 3 proved she can even bring something to a shallow role, though most of her roles have been more dramatic. I also think she has an interesting face with a lot of expression. I know she’s doing a premium channel TV show right now, but I wish they’d bring her back to movies.

  • Michael Kish

    Anna Faris was great till all the plastic surgery. Her characters were usually airheads but she did play them well. And she was always that cute quirky girl you think would be cool to actually hang out with. Then she got all plastic and fake looking and i cringe every time i see her. She used to look so much better.

  • AngelleSL

    John C. Reily in “Chicago” singing Mr. Cellophane is one of my very favorite performances. It would be great to see more of him!

  • gbnz

    Nice article… Have to agree with John Hawkes for sure.. Fantastic in Winters Bone and Martha Marcy May Marlene. Giovanni Ribisi heck where do you start he is freakn brilliant… I think Michael Fassbender could be on this list.

  • Jack

    John Hawkes is from my home town so its awesome seeing him on this list!

  • Fernando Yanmar Narciso

    anna was such a babe in scary movie 1… but when she dyed her hair blonde and injected collagen on her lips her carreer took a serious nosedive and has never came back on track

  • John Chrysostom

    Gary Oldman, Edward Norton (I’ve not seen anyone else list him), Samuel L., and, even Michael Madsen, as long as Tarantino is directing (e.g. in Kill Bill: he sucks otherwise). Samuel L. also shines in Tarantino films from 20 years ago (Jackie Brown) to this year in Django Unchained.

    You’ll get a feel for Norton’s range if you watch American History X and Death to Smoochy back-to-back.

  • redcarol57

    Jeremy Piven. That’s all I’m going to say.

  • Dianne Schuch

    I LOVE mark ruffalo and go out of my way to find his movies. He had a horrible bout with a brain tumor not too long ago.

  • driko

    james woods & james coburn are pretty underrated.

    • Veronica Goff

      James Woods is far from underrated.

  • ballsofsteel

    Michael Parks is the most underrated actor of all time

  • SadieEarp

    See, even here he’s forgotten. Gary Oldman. The Contender with Jeff Bridges. He gives an utterly brilliant performance as a Roy Cohn-type sleazeball senator. He has done a lot of commercial work which may be why most people ignore him. Sid and Nancy. Another incredible performance. Only been nominated once for an Oscar.

  • Mark Machado

    Ehhh. Only one I agree with was John C. Reilly. That dude has had a extremely varied acting career and has done well with most of them if not all. Anna Farris plays the same character in 99% of her movies.

  • Amanda Rach

    I agree Dan, Sam Rockwell not on this list, he’s truly one of my favorites. I don’t like Anna Faris, Smiley Face is the worst stoner movie of all time maybe if she didn’t play a dumb blonde all the time she would get more work. I think Steve Busemi deserves to be number one, besides his show on Boardwalk Empire, he’s never been in a leading role before this one, and he doesn’t have an Oscar. He deserves to be on this list more than anybody. Peter Skrasgaard not on here either. I don’t think he’s been in a leading role yet.

  • E10

    I think Karl Urban is the most underrated actor. Hell, he’s a better performer and really reel audiences into his performance. I personally think he was a better choice for the role of Hal Jordan in The Green Lantern compared to Ryan Reynolds whose acting ain’t really that impressive.

  • Kevin

    Sharlto copley is the most underrated actor of all time take district 9 for instance he played the lead actor and an excellent one at that or even the more recent Elysium where he plays the antagonist he is the best actor ever

  • Elizabeth

    John Hawkes is great and definitely should be offered more notable roles; I also think Patrick Fugit belongs on this list.

  • La Nita Noah

    I LOVED MARK RUFFALO AND REESE WHITHERSPOON IN MY FAVORITE MOVIE … JUST LIKE HEAVEN.

  • mavs1234

    Tom Hardy is a very underrated actor! he has done excellent performances and does not receive enough credit for his work.

  • movie fan

    Forget minorities don’t exist in your world.

  • Don_Mega

    Totally agree about Anna Faris. She was so good in Brokeback Mountain that I didn’t know she was in it. She is awesome.

  • Elisabeth White

    Geoffry Rush is a brilliant actor who rarely gets credit

  • sdfsdfsdf

    how do i view this dumbshit list on one page…sites need to start putting this shit on one page because i dont look at em when you have to go page by page…

  • deedlez

    I tooootally agree with picking Giovani Ribisi. He is insaaaanely good!

  • Linde Knighton

    Renee O’Connor. Can flip from comedy to drama to action in the blink of an eye.

  • mscsokas

    You need to add Marton Csokas to that list. So ridiculously talented….

  • Mike

    What about Jennifer Jason Leigh?! She never really made it to the big screen but overshadowed her much more popular co-workers in a LOT of movies even if her presence was brief. They clearly haven’t seen “Miami Blues,” “The Hudsucker Proxy,” “Single White Female,” “Last Exit to Brooklyn” and too many others. And she has never won an Academy Award.

  • mixedkidmonkey2

    anna faris is adorable. i love her so much.

  • bigpat

    Mark Ruffalo? Raw likeability? Sorry, I just don’t get it, never have. I find him boring, nothing special. He’s like a coffee mug in a silver tea service-it’ll work but it just doesn’t really belong.