35+ Performers Who Left A Lasting Impression With A Single Scene

These actors captivated audiences and made an indelible mark on the film and television industry with just one memorable performance. From classic Hollywood legends to modern-day stars, this collection celebrates the art of great acting and the impact it can have on a single scene.

Taika Waititi In Hunt For The Wilderpeople (2016)

In addition to writing his own screenplays and directing his own movies, Taika Waititi frequently appears in front of the camera, too. And each time he does, this witty Kiwi makes us laugh. In What We Do in the Shadows, he plays a sweet vampire, and in Thor: Ragnarok, he plays a silly rock monster, but in Hunt for the Wilderpeople, he portrays the most eccentric preacher in New Zealand.

Chris Evans In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)

Actor and skateboarder Lucas Lee has a beef with Scott that is required by the league. The man is more in love with himself than with his ardent followers.

Alfre Woodard In 12 Years A Slave (2013)

The minor role of Alfre Woodard is challenging, but she captures the essence of the character. Even though she hasn’t been in that situation in a while, Mrs. Shaw recalls what it was like to be enslaved. We can tell from the actor’s portrayal that Mrs. Shaw now sees herself as more in line with wealthy women.

Julia Butters In Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)

Even though Butters only appeared in two sequences, she held her own well against Leo DiCaprio. Although the film’s original version was 4.5 hours long, they allegedly shot a lot more of her. However, some of it was edited out.

Dean Stockwell In Blue Velvet (1986)

We have to give the perpetually oddball director David Lynch a lot of the credit for this entry. When he teamed together Dean Stockwell, and Dennis Hopper for one of Lynch’s oddest takes in Blue Velvet, the master of the surreal, exquisite, and bizarre struck a nerve. Who is creepier in this scene—lipsync Stockwell’s to Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” or Hopper’s character’s an almost orgasmic response to it?

Harry Belafonte In Blackkklansman (2018)

Harry Belafonte only appears in one scene in the entire movie, yet you’ll never forget it. In it, his persona visits a local Black student union to talk about the lynching of Jesse Washington in real life. A KKK initiation and Belafonte’s terrifying monologue about the destruction of Washington are edited together in the scenario, coupled with his explanation of how the 1915 motion picture The Birth of a Nation affected the US. Finally, it ends with chants for “Black power” and “white power” from both groups. This scene was filmed with Belafonte, who stepped out of retirement, and the entire event will give you chills.

Mariah Carey In Precious (2009)

Mariah was on the screen for a little period of time, but she was really impressive. Now people can forget about the disaster that was Glitter, finally!

Adrien Brody In Midnight In Paris (2011)

The 2011 film Midnight in Paris is a joy to watch. A few of Midnight’s high spots include appearances by Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston), and Pablo Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo). Still, few can match the curiosity of Adrien Brody’s Salvador Dali. Although he was officially seen at a party earlier in the movie, Dal’s silence nevertheless allows him to be added to the list through his interaction with contemporary Gil Pender (Owen Wilson).

Michelle Williams In Manchester By The Sea (2016)

Williams appears briefly in a few of the flashback scenes, but she is utterly devastating in the current-day moment. It would be a movie spoiler to explain the context of her dialogue with Casey Affleck’s character, but suffice it to say that she brings tears to your eyes for the entire ten or so minutes that she is onscreen. For this sequence, she received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress that year, and she very certainly deserved it.

Philip Seymour Hoffman In Hard Eight (1997)

The unidentified, lower-class heckler, played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, seemed to enjoy deterring the older, more experienced gambler.

Veronica Ngo In Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

The Star Wars series, which has spanned over 40 years, is a grand space opera of good vs. evil in which the forces of light and darkness clash. Unfortunately, the tiny guy frequently gets lost at the seams in this epic story. The Star Wars story mainly focuses on the main characters in this intergalactic conflict—Rey, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and Kylo Ren—but one specific scene in The Last Jedi is a reminder that many other minor characters sacrifice their lives for the greater good.

Alec Baldwin In Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Baldwin plays Blake, a man tasked by “Mitch and Murray” to motivate the underachieving salespeople. His seven-minute “Always Be Closing” monologue, which benefits from Mamet’s masterful pacing and cinematography, is unquestionably the most memorable scene in a movie starring many famous actors.

Alfred Molina In Boogie Nights (1997)

In Boogie Nights, Molina truly steals the show as a jittery, high-on-drugs smack dealer who has a thing for the glam metal band Night Ranger. As he negotiates a botched drug deal, the screen is filled with his vigor and senseless rantings. He ultimately uses a 12-gauge shotgun to chase Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) and Reed Rothchild (Thomas C. Reilly) from his home.

Molly Shannon In The Santa Clause 2 (2002)

Despite having only one scene in The Santa Clause 2, Tracy, played by Molly Shannon, should have won the EGOT for her three-minute performance.

Alan Rickman In Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010)

Alan Rickman (as Professor Snape), who was on screen for just 1 minute, 15 seconds in the first Deathly Hallows film, had a total screen time of only 43 minutes in all eight Harry Potter movies.

Bill Murray In Zombieland (2009)

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

Billy Crystal And Carol Kane In The Princess Bride (1987)

Billy Crystal and Carol Kane play the wonderfully unhappy married pair Miracle Max and Valerie, who dabble in the kind of magic that could perhaps give our fallen hero, Westley, new life. Despite Valerie’s rants, Miracle Max manages to save the day and bids the rescue team farewell with the catchphrase, “Have fun stormin’ da castle”.

Christopher Walken In Pulp Fiction (1994)

Christopher Walken’s monologue in Quentin Tarantino’s masterwork Pulp Fiction, released in 1994, is one of the movie’s most enduring passages. In his role as Captain Koons, Walken relates the tale of his father’s gold watch and the lengths he took to ensure that it would be passed down to his son as a family relic to young Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis). As only Walken can, he delves into the obscene and profane specifics of how his father was able to conceal the watch while a five-year prisoner of war in Vietnam.

Evan Peters In X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014)

Despite appearing on screen for only 5 minutes and 15 seconds in X-Men: Days of Future Past, Evan Peters (as Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver) is responsible for one of the finest movie scenes ever.

Drew Barrymore In Scream (1996)

She not only performed admirably in the 12-minute opening act, but she also received top billing, and the movie was promoted as being about her.

Kenneth Tigar In The Avengers (2012)

In this scene, Tigar plays an elderly man who refuses to bend down before Loki after the latter orders everyone to do so. The only person who challenges him is the elderly man with a German accent. This sentence has a murky double meaning that suggests the elderly man is a Holocaust survivor.

Anne Hathaway In Les Misérables (2012)

Just see how well she performed “I Dreamed a Dream”! Many people, anticipated the vocally impressive anthem version. Still, they actually got Anne delving into the subtleties and feelings that Fantine would genuinely experience at that precise moment. She’s not singing it to hit every note exactly, but it’s not a nice tune. She is a broken woman trying to sing while barely managing her emotions.

Bronson Pinchot In Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

Serge has an unclear regional accent. He famously offers Foley an espresso with “a lemon twist” after falling in love with him right away.

Judi Dench In Shakespeare In Love (1999)

Shakespeare in Love only had Judi Dench’s Queen Elizabeth on screen for around eight minutes. Nevertheless, she was so outstanding and powerful that she took home the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

Gloria Foster In The Matrix (1999)

If there is one thing, we can be sure of, Lana and Lily Wachowski’s sci-fi epic The Matrix posed many issues for us to consider. As Neo (Keanu Reeves) embarks on a journey of self-discovery to save humanity against an evil race of sentient robots, The Oracle (Gloria Foster) was thankfully able to fill in some of the gaps about the who, what, and why of it all.

Viola Davis In Doubt (2008)

Acting opposite Meryl Streep, Viola Davis just had one scene—a mere eight minutes—but it was enough for her first Oscar nomination. She is both devastating and flawless in the film. With each tear, you can sense the agony in her character’s face as she struggles to persuade herself that she is doing morally, even though she is aware that either position is doomed to failure. This scene demonstrates why Viola is the best, which is for a reason.

Matthew McConaughey In Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)

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.

Jonathan Groff In Hamilton (2020)

Despite spending a total of nine minutes on stage, he received nominations for both a Tony and an Emmy for the performance. But let’s not play around. He’s worth it because he’s Jonathan Groff.

Bill Murray In Little Shop Of Horrors (1986)

Arthur Denton is that patient, and the more painful his dental procedure is, the giddier he becomes.

Denis Ménochet In Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Denis Ménochet’s portrayal doesn’t overstate the significance of the historical truth that the scenario depicts. He uncomfortably puts us up close to the bottomless pathos and sorrow of a historically or fictionally underappreciated figure: a nameless, real hero whose sincere goal resulted in disaster and death, not triumph.

Gene Hackman In Young Frankenstein (1974)

The renowned Gene Hackman’s one scene in the classic movie, which follows hard-boiled roles in movies like The French Connection (1971) and The Conversation (1974), was made even more unforgettable by the opportunity to witness him alter modes. His interaction with Peter Boyle’s Frankenstein monster as Harold, the Blind Man, is undoubtedly the funniest moment of his over 60-year career.

Gary Oldman In True Romance (1993)

As he personifies the type of human garbage that engages in the flesh-peddling business, Oldman’s portrayal of Spivey as a deranged and demented pimp is compelling. Oldman surely made the most of his one scene in the movie with his hazy eye, scarred visage, and scarcely understandable language.

Edie Mcclurg In Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)

As she idly chats on the phone to a friend while oblivious to the angry customer, the “Car Rental Agent,” as the character is credited, first comes out as overly upbeat. Nevertheless, she is ready to give it straight back to him following Neal’s outburst.

Dave Bautista In Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

That replicant, Sapper Morton, is played by Dave Bautista. He is both physically and intellectually strong, as evidenced by the many books in his library.

Kathleen Freeman In The Blues Brothers (1980)

In the comedic classic The Blues Brothers, Kathleen Freeman steps up to the plate and takes some well-deserved lumps (1980). The woman who plays Sister Mary Stigmata, a.k.a. “The Penguin,” summons Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) Blues to a meeting in her office to talk about the church. Jake attempts an ill-conceived attempt to obtain the money through illicit means as the tax authorities close in, which causes Sister Mary to exhibit “The Penguin.”

Gene Jones In No Country For Old Men (2007)

The writing in the film, but especially in this sequence, is so incisive and precise, and Javier Bardem’s understated, eerie performance will give you shivers. But seriously, we don’t talk about how fantastic the shopkeeper is enough. He deserves the praise since he is just as brilliant as Bardem (who won the Oscar for his performance).

Vanessa Redgrave In Atonement (2007)

Old Briony is portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave, who only makes a brief, five-minute appearance at the film’s conclusion. She’s the reason it all comes together — the keyboard clacking, the supercuts of certain important scenes, and everything being shown from different perspectives. It was astounding. It was executed flawlessly and was really subtle. Her acting is simply amazing.

David Thewlis In The Big Lebowski (1998)

Knox Harrington, played by David Thewlis, embodies the existential, sublime weirdness that the Coen Brothers aim for in their movies. He plays hardly more than a bystander in a conversation between The Dude (Jeff Bridges) and Maude Lebowski in The Big Lebowski (Julianne Moore). Thewlis’ Harrington is “Maude’s associate” and truly irritates The Dude.

Steve Park In Fargo (1996)

In the Coen Brothers’ epic Fargo, the dinner scene between Mike (Steve Park) and Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) is seen as both challenging to watch and humorous at the same time. Even though it would seem impossible, Park’s awkwardness as the sexually frustrated engineer from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, is dripping with what we like to refer to as “second-hand embarrassment.”. Because Park’s character experiences such intense emotional upheaval in this four-minute moment that seemingly lasts for four hours.

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