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John C. Reilly, character actor extraordinaire

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ZUMAPress.com

“I love that people can’t place me. They don’t know my name. That’s ‘mission accomplished’ in my world.” — John C. Reilly

Today may as well be National Character Actor Day. Reilly was born on this day in 1965, while across the pond, the Brits are celebrating the talent of Jim Broadbent, who was born May 24, 1949. They might lack the name recognition of brighter stars, but it’s their unmistakable mugs that instill an authentic Everyman quality into their eclectic collection of supporting characters. Broadbent is a legendary chameleon, slipping from Harry Potter to British period indie to Bridget Jones, and he even has an Oscar, for Iris.

Reilly (the “C” stands for Christopher, by the way) has a batting average any actor would envy — with scene-stealing roles in Boogie Nights, Chicago, and The Hours — but in recent years, he’s seemed intent to put his above quote to the test. Following some Will Ferrell comedies — Talladega Nights, Step Brothers — he’s stepped out front with the musical-comedy, Walk Hard, and last year’s indie romantic-comedy, Cyrus. Devoted fans found lots to like in both, but neither film cleaned up at the box office. That might “doom” Reilly to the types of roles he knocks out of the part, like his upcoming performance as the “affable but oblivious” husband in the Cannes hit, We Need to Talk About Kevin. Or his co-starring role in Roman Polanski’s Carnage.

Is it okay that I prefer my Reilly sad and pathetic (and funny)? Like this:

How do you like your John C. Reilly? Do you still think of him as a “character actor,” or has he graduated to the next level? What other supporting players do you think we should recognize on unofficial National Character Actor Day?

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