7 Memorable Movie Characters Who Barely Say A Damn Thing

Most often, the moments we remember in movies consist of catchy one-liners we can repeat with our friends over and over for days, weeks, months, even years after seeing a particular movie for the first time. Sometimes, though, a character is memorable for what they don’t say. These are sometimes referred to as mute characters, even though they’re not technically, like, physically mute. They just don’t say much. They speak more through their actions, reactions and body language. And in some cases they steal the show.

There’s a history for this in film, since the birth of movies was a silent one. Movies were a silent medium for the first couple decades of the medium’s inception, and so emphasis was put on a performer’s physicality, and once the close-up came into fashion, much was made of a character’s facial expression. Although sound came to provide dialogue and music and dancing and general loudness, moments of silence still had tremendous efficacy in on-screen storytelling. In fact, the contrast between noise and silence may have made these quiet moments even more effective.

Mute movie characters, or characters who just say very little, can therefore be extremely compelling. It makes the few words they sometimes say, or the little expressions they make if they never do get around to using their words, that much more crucial and a source of much closer attention. Here are 7 characters who have used silence to outstanding effect long after sound came to dominate the landscape of movies.

Comments (61)

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  1. joshsays:

    I can’t believe that was Kristen Stewart. I now wish twilight haters would see Speak.

    1. Yugesays:

      It wouldn’t make Twilight less awful, though :U

    2. WoWedsays:

      her previous works don’t excuse her most recent ones. she doesn’t carry that level of credibility yet

    3. neowiz73says:

      Kristen Stewart, if anything, is what makes it a bearable movie to watch for some of us. I don’t get the whole sparkly-day-walking vampire aspect.

  2. Dionysussays:

    By the very definition of his name, I’m surprised you didn’t include Silent Bob

  3. Comiccowsays:

    Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite? That guy was awesome.

  4. spduboissays:

    OK — how about the entire cast in “Quest for Fire”? (1981)

  5. Tommyboysays:

    Has to be silent bob for me

  6. Alex Lowesays:

    Scissorhands is still my favorite Depp role, I don’t know if he’ll ever beat that.

    Another couple that could be on the list: Kenny in Manic. his performance has stuck with me ever since I first saw it, and for the majority of the movie he refuses to talk.
    Ryan Gosling in Drive. May be a cliche pick, but that was the first one that came to mind when I saw the title of the article.

    Also, I’m a big Stewart fan as well. I even thought she was great in Adventureland and Snow White and the Huntsman. Now that Twilight is done, hopefully she can put those films far behind her.

  7. cris1hiansays:

    WALL E!!!!

  8. Luke Askew as the Hitchhiker in Easy Rider. Doesn’t say much at all, but a very significant character. Or Morgan Woodward as the Man With No Eyes in Cool Hand Luke. Another silent but important character.

  9. Avengersays:

    What?? Where is T-1000 from Terminator 2??

  10. Oniönheadsays:

    Arnold Schwarzenegger – The Terminator.

  11. tracysays:

    you totally forgot cuba gooding jr in Lightning jack with Paul Hogan.

  12. Bowmacsays:

    Ada in The Piano. Amazing performance.

  13. Su ZQsays:

    Wes Bentley in American Beauty

  14. Mwbsays:

    Robert Duvall’s character in To Kill a Mockingbird. Stunning.

  15. annonsays:

    What the deaf man heard. was a great one.

  16. Manosobu Ando as the killer Kiriyama in Battle Royale.

  17. Morgansays:

    Kristen Stewart was surprisingly good in this movie, but for me, I find that her earlier movies are infinitely better than her current ones. I thought she was great in Panic Room with Jodi Foster, but her more recent films just seem to be the same character over and over again with a few changes here. I love it when actors can express various emotions just through their eyes or their body language, but from what I’ve seen of Stewart’s more recent films, she doesn’t use any of that really anymore and, again, her character’s all become the same and are quite bland.

    1. Beasays:

      I remember reading that book and it’s very compelling. I don’t know if it’s the contents of the movie or her acting but really Speak was just great. And I agree about her acting with her seeming like the same character over and over again though I see it as starting little earlier in her career vs recently.

      Perhaps it’s certain directors that brings more of her skills out or requires more from her than giving us that blank and flat acting.

  18. Hersays:

    John Coffey- The Green Mile… If anyone likes The Shawshank Redemption or other prison dramas, they should watch it!

  19. Madfatchickkillasays:

    Silent Bob?

    1. onikasays:

      hi

  20. mikessays:

    o.k…whoever the guy was who played the zombie leader in Land of the Dead. He was brilliant.

  21. Where the [frick] is Caesar from Rise of the Planet of the Apes

  22. Niko Pötrysays:

    Yen in Ocean’s Trilogy. “Where to fuck you been?”

  23. Tom Holderbachsays:

    One Eye from Valhalla Rising

  24. luxsays:

    ryan gosling in Drive.

  25. DrNopesays:

    Sloth (Goonies)

  26. Carosays:

    Alan Arkin in The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter.

  27. HopeFollowssays:

    Silent Bob is one of my favorites. I haven’t watched his regular stuff, though. I’ve only found out about him when I watched Dogma a couple years ago. Been meaning to watch his stuff.

  28. mrksays:

    jaws from the spy who loved me/moonraker

  29. Mydknightsays:

    But if you ever see Adventureland… If you haven’t clawed your eyes out and forced sharp object into your eardrums by the end of this movie… Yes! it’s that bad!

    1. PizpotGargravarrsays:

      88% of critics on RottenTomatoes would disagree with you, as would I.

  30. Mykelle Moonbloodsays:

    R from warm bodies

  31. Mykelle Moonbloodsays:

    I love Kristen too.

  32. unstucksays:

    The Rinko Kikuchi character in Babel

  33. Mikesays:

    Darth Maul? One of the few good things to come out of the Star Wars prequels?

  34. Jon Michael Riggssays:

    Boris Karloff in the 1931 Frankenstein

  35. Suzysays:

    Gilbert in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.”

  36. MadManateesays:

    What about Boba Fett? I would say he has the most skewed fame to number of lines ratio. He said like 3 things.

  37. bubba fettsays:

    Boba Fett – “He’s no use to me dead”

  38. Virgilitronsays:

    Kurk douglass in soldiers doesn’t speak much!

  39. Wilson the Volleyball from Cast away?!

  40. lhawk68says:

    Cuba Gooding Jr in Lightning Jack. Not a great movie but he made it to be halfway decent.

  41. BOBAsays:

    HELLO SNAKE EYES AND BOBA FETT

  42. HMS1013says:

    No Boo Radley? WTF?! Robert Duvall was perfection in that film

  43. carash13says:

    Johnny Depp, again…….. Benny & June

    1. thatonekidsays:

      Benny & Joon*

  44. frenzysays:

    MR BEAN 😛

  45. disqus_HJiKq6eaoIsays:

    Finally someone else that sees Kristen Stewart for the amazing actress that she is.

  46. Boone.says:

    Holly Hunter ‘s character in ” The Piano ”. An excellent movie in which Miss Hunter delivers an astonishing performance.

  47. Joesays:

    Silent fricken bob

  48. Hawkeyesdishsays:

    Susan in “The Patriot”. That little girl packed so much emotion in to every non-dialogue she had, and when she finally broke down and spoke to her father, sobbing and telling him she’ll say anything as long as he doesn’t go (back to war)…. my mom cries every single time we watch it.

  49. Matt Kingsays:

    Ray Park as Darth Maul from Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

    For a guy with 3 lines of dialogue (and the least in the entire Star Wars franchise of MAIN roles that HAS speaking dialogue) he had a TON of presence. He looked like a viable threat and conveyed his hate and anger through just his body language: silent, cold, but holding a burning fire within and a wicked superiority complex. And he only spoke 3 lines? Plus he got to pull a Toshiro Mifune whenever he burst into action: you knew he was going to pull his lightsaber in a second and when he did it was fast, furious, and frightening, but the rest of the time he was still and silent and yet FULL of presence that easily outweighed any other villain he was with in the room, INCLUDING the future Emperor, Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid.) Whatever ANYONE’s complaints about that film, you NEVER hear them complain about Darth Maul… Only that he died waaay too quickly (though they DID bring him back in Clone Wars and he was just as awesome there as well…)

  50. Jon Hironimussays:

    You compare one character to Silent Bob but then make no mention of him on the list?? Or while I’m on the subject of Kevin Smith movies, how about God played by Alanis Morriset in Dogma?
    Also, though she was more mousy than silent, there’s Adrian in the first Rocky flick. Some others off the top of my head:
    Lobot -Empire Strikes Back
    The Creature -Young Frankenstein.
    Rocky -The Rocky Horror Picture Show
    Helen Keller -The Miracle Worker.
    Ada -The Piano.
    Jason -Friday The 13th.
    Tinkerbell -Disney’s Peter Pan.
    Lurch -Addams Family.
    Jaws -The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker

  51. Junipersays:

    You forgot to mention The MC in The Piano…

  52. Simone Wilsonsays:

    Ferb

  53. leah hughessays:

    I saw the movie Speak, for one thing the book was so much better. Kristin Stewert is definately not a good actress, she isn’t the worst out there, but she is pretty awful. That is just my opinion though.

  54. Charlessays:

    Allison Reynolds – The breakfast Club
    Dot – The quiet

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