“Just like Batman & Robin” was the exclamation of one Morning Show Host to his superior when asked how things were going with the new addition to his one man show. A Steady News-Guy Robin for his veritable Morning Show Pop-Culture factoid-sharing Batman was the kind of career decision that became the first big break for yours truly in the radio industry.
Everyone loves a leading man, but it is always the supporting role that adds dimension and variety to the overall plot and character dynamics. In keeping with the Batman theme let me point out another stellar example: After watching Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, there is one character that, from my point of view, is the most endearing and illuminating character of them all, and that is Alfred. As the source of Bruce Wayne’s/Batman’s heroics, Alfred is the real ray of light for Gotham City and and yet is completely unknown and unappreciated. He is the one who had the most influence on Bruce Wayne, and in the end he demonstrates the qualities of a true hero as he willingly allows Batman to take the credit.
The older I get, the more I tend to appreciate the supporting roles. As one who has made a living as a second banana, I can embrace the unique niche I have carved for myself in a competitive industry, but I can also relate with the desire to be the star, if only just once. It’s time to give these unsung heroes the attention they deserve. Here are a few character actor/supporting role notables who, if only this once, take center stage.
Strother Martin got his start in the acting business as a frequent guest star in early TV. But he achieved fame as an in-demand character actor in such films as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Cool Hand Luke. He frequently appears alongside John Wayne and Paul Newman. This would-be Olympic Swimmer worked as a swimming instructor for Charlie Chaplin’s kids while waiting for his first acting gig in his early years.
Surprisingly, this Missouri born beauty never became a big star. She put her indelible stamp in showbiz as a guest star in the golden age of television, bringing us one of television’s most memorable roles as Dr. Richard Kimble’s sister in The Fugitive. However, she also appeared on just about every show of the era, including Gunsmoke, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Perry Mason, and many others.
Not only is Bruce Greenwood one of contemporary Hollywood’s most sought after charactor actors, he often plays the sneering villain. His role as Ashley Judd’s husband in 1999’s Double Jeopardy is a prime example. He’s the villain you love to hate and the supporting player you just can’t ignore. Ironically, he hates scary movies (This guy was frightened by the monkeys in The Wizard of Oz!). More recently, he was the President in the second National Treasure and portrayed the iconic Christopher Pike in the Star Trek reboot.