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Character actor

A character actor is an actor who predominantly performs supporting parts, often in similar roles throughout the course of a career. While many actors aspire to "leading man" or "leading lady" status, many notable actors have had enduring careers in less prominent, but important and memorable roles.

Stereotypically, character actors lack some of the physical attributes associated with "stars". A character actor may be very short, extremely tall, heavy, thin, balding, or simply unconventional-looking. Many older actors and actresses find their access to lead roles limited by age as well. Some character actors simply have distinctive voices or foreign accents which limit their suitability for most leading roles. Some character actors have specific talents that are required in genre films, such as horsemanship or swimming ability. Many up-and-coming actors simply find themselves typecast in character roles due to an early success with a particular part or in a certain genre.

Many character actors have, however, gained star status and have become widely known "lead" actors. Other character actors have developed a "cult" following with a particular audience as well. A hallmark of many great character actors is that their names are not widely known yet they are instantly recognizable as familiar faces on the screen.

Examples of "character" roles include:

Notable or prolific character actors: