5 Underrated Actors Who Don’t Get Enough Credit

Sure, you’ve got your Brad Pitts, your Robert Downey Jrs, 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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Comments (99)

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

  2. 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.

  3. cranium7says:

    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!!

    1. 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.

      1. Rupert Bubbletrouserssays:

        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.

      2. thekranesays:

        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 🙂

    2. Jacksays:

      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.

    3. John Chrysostomsays:

      This seems to be the general sentiment about Farris.

    4. Veronica Goffsays:

      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.

    5. Bruna O.says:

      Anna Faris is one of the worst actresses o hollywood.

      Carrie-Anne Moss (from Matrix and Memento); Minnie Driver (from Good Will Hunting); Emily Blunt, Diane Kruger and Rachel McAdams are real examples of talented underrated actresses. They always get supporting roles and lack the attention they deserve.

  4. Jessi Rippetoesays:

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

  5. Dansays:

    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.

  6. Mark Ruffalo is the thee most underrated actor in Hollywood.

  7. 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.

  8. Deckardsays:

    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.

  9. Twinkie Banditsays:

    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.

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

  11. 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!

    1. Mark Machadosays:

      Probable just thought they needed to include a female.

  12. 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!

  13. lucascottsays:

    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

    1. Jacksays:

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

      1. Rupert Bubbletrouserssays:

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

  14. lucascottsays:

    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

  15. Denisesays:

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

  16. Amandasays:

    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 🙂

  17. tom riddlesays:

    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

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

  19. RHPSsays:

    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.

    1. Rupert Bubbletrouserssays:

      Not really relevant though. Just sayin…

  20. RHPSsays:

    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!!!).

  21. Concerned Third Partysays:

    andy serkis would be nice too.

  22. drforbessays:

    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!

  23. Aradia913says:

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

    1. Rupert Bubbletrouserssays:

      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.

  24. Stephanie13says:

    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.

  25. 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.

  26. The Unicorn Whisperersays:

    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.

    1. NezPachosays:

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

    2. NezPachosays:

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

  27. Adamsays:

    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.

    1. skunkybeaumontsays:

      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.

      1. Just Alexsays:

        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.

  28. Mrubysays:

    Love Sam Rockwell. Michael Pena deserves some recognition too

  29. capper1970says:

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

  30. Spideysensesays:

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

  31. Danny Darcysays:

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

  32. setronsays:

    William H Macy is missing from this list.

  33. Deboosays:

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

  34. turkishberrysays:

    Don’t forget Paul Dano

    1. NezPachosays:

      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.

  35. Cold_War_Relicsays:

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

  36. 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.

  37. Cedricksays:

    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.

  38. Wiabuxsays:

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

  39. Why no Ray Stevenson???

  40. mpr91798says:

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

  41. DDDsays:

    Ruffalo was Stella Adler’s last Hollywood actor

  42. DDDsays:

    Ruffalo was Stella Adler’s last Hollywood actor

  43. DDDsays:

    Ruffalo was Stella Adler’s last Hollywood actor

  44. DDDsays:

    Ruffalo was Stella Adler’s last Hollywood actor

  45. 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.

  46. curtsays:

    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.

  47. curtsays:

    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.

  48. MatthewMelangesays:

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

    I like her photo shopped breasts though.

  49. Charlez TTsays:

    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.

  50. XPhoenix01says:

    Sam Rockwell and the number 1 is Gary oldman

  51. blinksays:

    Carla Gugino.

  52. Ali Mitchellsays:

    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.

  53. Michael Kishsays:

    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.

  54. AngelleSLsays:

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

  55. gbnzsays:

    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.

  56. Jacksays:

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

  57. Fernando Yanmar Narcisosays:

    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

  58. John Chrysostomsays:

    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.

  59. redcarol57says:

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

  60. Dianne Schuchsays:

    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.

  61. drikosays:

    james woods & james coburn are pretty underrated.

    1. Veronica Goffsays:

      James Woods is far from underrated.

  62. ballsofsteelsays:

    Michael Parks is the most underrated actor of all time

  63. SadieEarpsays:

    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.

  64. Mark Machadosays:

    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.

  65. Amanda Rachsays:

    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.

  66. E10says:

    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.

  67. Kevinsays:

    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

  68. Elizabethsays:

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

  69. La Nita Noahsays:


  70. mavs1234says:

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

  71. movie fansays:

    Forget minorities don’t exist in your world.

  72. Don_Megasays:

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

  73. Elisabeth Whitesays:

    Geoffry Rush is a brilliant actor who rarely gets credit

  74. sdfsdfsdfsays:

    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…

  75. deedlezsays:

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

  76. Linde Knightonsays:

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

  77. mscsokassays:

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

  78. Mikesays:

    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.

  79. mixedkidmonkey2says:

    anna faris is adorable. i love her so much.

  80. bigpatsays:

    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.

  81. EduardoRgsays:

    Really? Nobody is going to name Jeremy Renner? The man is outstanding in everything he does.

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