Sometimes an actor's performance is so convincing, it gives you the chills. They get into character so deeply that it's almost frightening how real it feels. Whether it's a role in a thriller, drama, or even comedy, these 10 actors have delivered performances that were downright spine-tingling. AUTHOR: Gabrielle Reeder
Table of Contents
- 1. Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men (2007)
- 2. John Heder in Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
- 3. Robert Knepper in Prison Break (2005-2017)
- 4. Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler (2014)
- 5. Catherine O'Hara in Schitt's Creek (2015-2020)
- 6. Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls (2004)
- 7. Imelda Staunton in Mrs. Umbridge Harry Potter (2001-2011)
- 8. Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs (1991)
- 9. Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting (1997)
- 10. Stanley Tucci in The Lovely Bones (2009)
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1. Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men (2007)
My ninth-grade teacher assigned No Country For Old Men as the first novel of our Intro to Literature course. The revolutionary Cormac Mccarthy concocted a bone-chilling insight into the life of a serial killer named Chigurh (pronounced sugar). The 2007 film starred Javier Bardem as the maniacal murderer in a two-hour movie without a soundtrack.
"He nailed the 'dead eyes,' they don't lack emotion, but they lack any depth behind them," a cinephile praises Bardem's performance.
"I read somewhere that hardly anyone would talk to him at the Oscars that year because they couldn't see him apart from that role," someone else adds. Another user chimes in about his haircut, "His hair in that role was equally terrifying."
2. John Heder in Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
In 2004, Jared Hess released a film that soon shot to cult status. Napoleon Dynamite features an awkward teenager forced to move in with his mean uncle after his grandmother experiences an injury. Napoleon befriends a new student who speaks little English, and they launched a class president campaign together.
John Heder assumed the role of a lanky, glasses-sporting high school outcast in Preston, Idaho, with a signature parted-lip facial expression. Many viewers say they can't unsee Heder as Dynamite.
3. Robert Knepper in Prison Break (2005-2017)
"That guy ruined villains in TV and movies for me. I found myself intensely hating the character, but then I suddenly realized that was the whole point and how amazing the job Robert Knepper did portraying such a despicable character. I can't really hate a character again after that. Instead, I am just thinking, 'man, this guy/gal is doing this so well!'" one Prison Break fan raves.
"What I love about his acting is how well he makes the character seem both utterly despicable, but also very much like just a very poor human being who disgust even himself but doesn't know how to be better. He's so beautifully twisted in a way that kind of makes you want him to succeed in sorting himself out, but you just know he's unable to," this watcher agrees of Theodore (T-Bag) Bagwell.
4. Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler (2014)
As an actor, there's not much Jake Gyllenhaal can't do. In his best role yet, Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom, a petty theft who stumbles into the world of capturing crime scenes for local news stations. The bloodier, the better.
Taking this idea, Bloom hires an assistant to help chase the worst criminals in Los Angeles and capture violence with a crystal-clear lens. Bloom cares not for family or friends but for becoming the best crime videographer.
"I always found his face to be unnerving, and when I saw him in that movie, suddenly, it all made sense. He was born for that role," a Nightcrawler watcher reports.
5. Catherine O'Hara in Schitt's Creek (2015-2020)
"Catherine O'Hara in Schitt's Creek. I have no idea how she managed to make everything consistently over the top and yet still not turn her character into a despicable self-parody (of a parody of a spoilt millionaire wife)," a TV reviewer writes.
"I expected to hate her character, but I just couldn't. Yet she embodies everything I hate about rich people. O'Hara played the role so masterfully. This is definitely one of the top three all-time favorite shows," a Schitt's Creek enthusiast beams of Moira Rose.
6. Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls (2004)
"Is butter a carb?" Rachel McAdams asked her clique as she played everyone's favorite quintessential Mean Girl in Mark Waters' Mean Girls. No one else can play Regina George with as much bitter sass as McAdams. Many Mean Girls fans confess they didn't realize McAdams played Regina until years after their first viewing.
"When you can't recognize an actor in a role, it means the actor did a perfect job," Regina George's number one fan shares.
7. Imelda Staunton in Mrs. Umbridge Harry Potter (2001-2011)
Imelda Staunton played the most despised character in the Harry Potter universe perfectly. "I don't think there's ever been a character that has infuriated me more in a film than her, and I think it's mainly because there are people in real life that are just like her, who have just as much power as her," a Harry Potter devotee admits.
8. Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Even though Anthony Hopkins only had sixteen minutes of screen time in Silence of the Lambs, a bunch of viewers claim they'll never see him as anyone but Hannibal Lecter, despite the actor being a sweetheart in real life.
"I think that's what makes it so hard to separate. I can absolutely picture him being the kind, social, cultured intellectual that the character of Lecter is. Almost like Lecter is the nightmare version of Anthony Hopkins."
9. Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting (1997)
"Robin Williams played the therapist in Good Will Hunting amazingly well. The part where he's talking to Will in the park is still the only movie scene that can make me cry. It's especially good when you consider how he passed away, some of what he was talking about might have been his genuine thoughts," a movie critic responds.
10. Stanley Tucci in The Lovely Bones (2009)
Stanley Tucci played beloved characters in Easy A, and The Devil Wears Prada, so when he transformed into a horrifying killer in The Lovely Bones, Tucci fans couldn't believe the sweet actor nailed a role as a murderer.
"Yes. Stanley Tucci freaked me out so much in that role, which I hated, 'cause I loved him," one film reviewer reports. "Took me forever to get that creepy character out of my head whenever I saw him," someone else retorts.
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