Supporting actor cheat sheet

An early look at the possible supporting actor race

James Cromwell

  • Oscar-nominated for “Babe.”
  • Appeared in such iconic 1970s TV series as “All in the Family,” “MASH” and “The Rockford Files.”
  • Has long been active in the Screen Actors Guild, including its current negotiations with the studios.

    Robert Downey Jr.
    (“Tropic Thunder”)

    • Oscar-nominated for “Chaplin.”
    • Might have been in the Oscar race with “The Soloist,” but the pic was pushed back to 2009 by Paramount.
    • Has just started shooting an updated version of “Sherlock Holmes,” where he will play the title role alongside Jude Law’s Watson.

    Ralph Fiennes
    (“The Duchess”)

    • Has received two prior Oscar nominations (“Schindler’s List,” “The English Patient”).
    • Continues to feed his reputation as an actor who fills villainous characters, including Lord Voldemort in the “Harry Potter” franchise.
    • His nephew, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, will play the younger version of Tom Riddle, aka Lord Voldemort, in the upcoming “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.”

    Philip Seymour Hoffman

    • Has won one Oscar (“Capote”) and received one other nomination (“Charlie Wilson’s War”).
    • Has been extremely busy the last few years, appearing in eight films since 2005, including this year’s Charlie Kaufman pic “Synecdoche, New York.”
    • Had a guest role in 1991 in one of the first episodes of “Law & Order,” which is now in its 19th season.

    Heath Ledger
    (“The Dark Knight”)

    • Oscar nominated for “Brokeback Mountain.”
    • Died of an accidental overdose of sleeping pills this past January.
    • Prior to his death, Ledger had been filming Terry Gillian’s “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.” Instead of recasting the part, Gillian chose to keep Ledger in the film and cast three other actors, including Johnny Depp and Jude Law, to play other aspects of the part.

    Michael Shannon
    (“Revolutionary Road”)

    • No previous Oscar nomination.
    • Received acclaim for his lead role in indie “Shotgun Stories,” about three brothers in Arkansas who feud with local rivals.
    • One of his favorite all-time cinematic characters is Rupert Pupkin, played by Robert De Niro, in “The King of Comedy.”

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