Skip To Content

    17 Actors Who Were Only In, Like, ONE Scene But Completely Stole The Entire Movie

    Drew Barrymore deserves WAY more credit for her only scene in Scream.

    We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us which actors completely stole the entire movie even though they were barely in it. Here are the wild results.

    1. Drew Barrymore (as Casey), who only appeared in the first 12 minutes of Scream

    Drew as Casey hiding from the killer in the house
    Dimension Films

    "Not only did she do a great job in that 12-minute opening sequence, but she was top-billed, and the film was marketed as her movie, so her dying so quickly really changed the horror movie genre. Classic."

    murrays3

    You can watch the performance here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Dimension Films / youtube.com

    2. Viola Davis (as Mrs. Miller), who was nominated for an Oscar after appearing in only one scene in Doubt

    Viola talking to the nun outside in "Doubt"
    Miramax Films

    "Viola Davis only appeared in one scene — literally less than eight minutes long — acting opposite Meryl Streep, and it earned her her first Oscar nomination. She's so perfect and heartbreaking in the movie. With each tear, you can see the pain on her character's face as she tries to convince herself that she's doing the right thing, even though she knows that either side is a losing battle. There's a reason Viola is the best, and this scene proves why."

    spenceralthouse

    You can watch the performance here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Miramax Films / youtube.com

    3. Bill Murray (as himself), who made the most of his five-minute cameo in Zombieland

    Bill Murray pretending to be a zombie
    Sony Pictures Releasing

    "Bill Murray played himself in Zombieland, and it was the best cameo ever."

    marcsauve

    You can watch the performance here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Sony Pictures Releasing / youtube.com

    4. Rooney Mara (as Erica Albright), who only had about five minutes of total screentime in The Social Network

    Mark and Erica at the bar in the opening scene
    Sony Pictures Releasing

    "Technically she appears three times in the movie, but her second two appearances are really small, especially in comparison to the first scene. Jesse Eisenberg has huge command of the screen as Zuckerberg (he got an Oscar nom for the performance), but Mara is right there with him the entire time. That opener is almost like a verbal boxing match, and I would argue that she wins it."

    elinorh

    You can watch the performance here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Sony Pictures Releasing / youtube.com

    5. Denis Ménochet (as Perrier LaPadite), who was only onscreen during the opening sequence in the 153-minute Inglourious Basterds

    Ménochet speaking to Waltz inside in the opening scene
    Universal Pictures

    "Denis Ménochet's performance in this scene brings me to tears every single time. He doesn't overplay the gravity of the historic reality that the scene is illustrating, and I think that’s exactly the point. He brings us uncomfortably close to the bottomless humanity and grief of a commonly overlooked character in fiction or history: a nameless, true hero whose full-hearted objective ended in tragedy and death, not triumph. I can’t imagine any actor being able to be better than him in that scene."

    letoriouslet

    You can watch the performance here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Universal Pictures / youtube.com

    6. Anne Hathaway (as Fantine), who won an Oscar after appearing in less than 15 minutes of the 158-minute Les Misérables

    Anne Hathaway as Fantine in "Les Mis" and accepting her Oscar
    Universal Pictures / ABC

    "Just look at her incredible performance of 'I Dreamed a Dream.' I think a lot of people expected the vocally powerful anthem version, but what they got was Anne exploring the emotions and nuances that Fantine would actually feel in that moment. It isn't a pretty song, but she's not singing it to hit every note perfectly. She's an emotionally broken woman who's barely hanging on, trying to sing. That's why it's brilliant."

    bigskinny

    You can watch the performance here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Universal Pictures / youtube.com

    7. Julia Butters (as Trudi Fraser), who was in less than 10 minutes of the 161-minute Once Upon a Time In Hollywood

    Butters and DiCaprio laughing while shooting the fake Western
    Sony Pictures Releasing

    "Butters was only in two scenes, but she completely held her own opposite Leo DiCaprio. They supposedly shot a lot more of her (the original cut of the film was 4.5 hours long), but some of it was edited out."

    erikd4e

    You can watch the performance here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Sony Pictures Releasing / youtube.com

    8. Matthew McConaughey (as Mark Hanna), who was physically onscreen for only about five minutes of the 3-hours-long Wolf of Wall Street

    McConaughey and DiCaprio's characters at a fancy restaurant
    Paramount Pictures

    "McConaughey is barely in two scenes of the movie, but when Leo DiCaprio stares at him and tries not to laugh while he pounds his chest, it's too hysterical. Truly unforgettable."

    f4bul0u5

    You can watch the performance here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Paramount Pictures / youtube.com

    9. Mariah Carey (as Ms. Weiss), who was only in a few short scenes in Precious

    Mariah and Monique speaking at her office in the movie
    Lionsgate

    "Mariah only had a few minutes of screentime, but she totally surprised me. I was so impressed with her. Now people can never speak of the burning dumpster fire known as Glitter again.

    melmel33

    You can watch the performance here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Lionsgate / youtube.com

    10. Michelle Williams (as Randi Chandler), who got an Oscar nomination after appearing in less than 10 minutes of Manchester by the Sea

    Michelle Williams' character talking outside to her ex
    Amazon Studios

    "Williams is briefly in a couple flashback scenes, but in the present-day one she's absolutely devastating. To give any context to her conversation with Casey Affleck’s character would give spoilers to the movie, but suffice to say, she makes you weep in the 10-or-so minutes she’s onscreen. She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars that year for this scene, and she definitely deserved it."

    jennr4ab

    You can watch the performance here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Amazon Studios / youtube.com

    11. Kenneth Tigar (as the old man), who was so memorable even though he literally only had two lines in The Avengers

    The old man standing up to Loki
    Marvel

    "In this scene, Tigar plays an old man who refuses to kneel to Loki after Loki demands that everyone bows at his feet. The old man, speaking with a German accent, is the only one who stands up to him. There's an ambiguous double meaning here, implying that the old man is a Holocaust survivor."

    monikap6

    You can watch the performance here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Marvel / youtube.com

    12. Thelma Ritter (as an uncredited Macy's shopper), who only appeared in two minutes of the original Miracle on 34th Street

    Thelma Ritter talking to Edmund Gwenn (as Santa) in "Miracle on 34th Street"
    20th Centural Fox

    "I think about Thelma Ritter's uncredited performance in Miracle on 34th Street SO often, even though it's her first-ever role and she's only in the movie for, like, two minutes. She plays a disgruntled Macy's patron who's upset that Santa just promised her son an impossible-to-find toy, and when Kris Kringle explains she can get the toy at another store, she's in disbelief.

    There's an Old Hollywood rumor that Darryl F. Zanuck, the then-head of 20th Century Fox, was so impressed with Ritter while she filmed this movie that he demanded they expand her role into two scenes. Ritter went on to receive six Oscar nominations in just 12 years, becoming one of the most-nominated actors to never win."

    spenceralthouse

    You can watch the performance here:

    View this video on YouTube

    20th Century Fox / youtube.com

    13. Vanessa Redgrave (as Old Briony), who only had a single monologue at the end of Atonement

    Vanessa Redgrave speaking to the camera at the end of "Atonement"
    Focus Features

    "Vanessa Redgrave plays Old Briony and only appears at the end of the movie in a 5-minute scene.  She's the reason it all comes together — the keyboard clacking, the supercuts of those key scenes, everything being shown from different perspectives. I was blown away. It was done so well, and it was also incredibly subtle. Her acting is just incredible. I remember staring at my computer screen, mouth open, for several minutes after it was over."

    helen1blakee

    You can watch the performance here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Focus Features / youtube.com

    14. Alfred Molina (as Rahad Jackson), who was in a single scene of the 155-minute Boogie Nights

    Alfred's character dancing to "Jessie's Girl" in his bachelor pad
    New Line Cinema

    "Alfred Molina in Boogie Nights is equal parts hilarious and terrifying. His acting was so great in it, and he made the scene (which was only about eight minutes long) so stressful. The whole thing was chaotic and perfect."

    rachaelcparry and loulabelson

    You can watch the performance here:

    View this video on YouTube

    New Line Cinema / youtube.com

    15. Judi Dench (as Queen Elizabeth), who won an Oscar after being onscreen for only eight minutes of Shakespeare in Love

    Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth
    Miramax Films

    "Judi Dench played Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare In Love, and she was only in the movie for about eight minutes. Still, she was so commanding and incredible that she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for it."

    libby77

    You can watch the performance here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Miramax Films / youtube.com

    16. Gene Jones (as the gas station proprietor), who only appeared in a single four-minute scene in No Country for Old Men

    Javier Bardem talking to Gene Jones in a store in "No Country for Old Men"
    Miramax Films

    "The writing in the movie — but especially this scene — is so sharp and specific, and Javier Bardem's quiet, haunting performance will send chills down your spine. But wow, we don't talk enough about how great the shopkeeper is too. He's just as fantastic as Bardem (who won the Oscar for his performance), and he deserves the credit."

    —Elena Baldisseri, Facebook

    You can watch the performance here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Miramax Films / youtube.com

    17. And Kimberly Adair Clark (as Honey, Frozone's wife), who was so iconic even though she only had a couple lines in The Incredibles

    Frozone talking to his wife in his apartment
    Pixar

    "Kimberly Adair Clark plays Honey, Frozone's wife. She only has a couple lines and isn't even visible in the movie, but she totally steals the show. There's a reason why people ALWAYS quote her scene, and it's all thanks to her. This list would be incomplete without giving her the rightful credit she deserves."

    laurengarafano

    You can watch the performance here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Pixar / youtube.com

    Did your favorite scene-stealing performance not make the list? Tell us about it in the comments below!

    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.

    TV and Movies

    Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.

    Newsletter signup form