People Are Talking About Non-Actors Who Gave AMAZING Acting Performances In A Movie Or Show, And It's A Damn Good List

Recently, Reddit user Crafty_Letter_1719 posed the interesting question, "What’s the best performance by somebody not primarily known for their acting?" to the people of r/movies. Here are their top-voted responses:

1."Eminem in 8 Mile. I remember when 8 Mile came out, Eminem said he hated making the movie and had no interest in ever acting again. Apparently, he was pretty serious about that."

Closeup of Eminem
Universal Pictures

2."Basketball hall of famer Kevin Garnett as himself in Uncut Gems. He's not asked to do a lot of heavy lifting until a scene very late in the movie, but he's shockingly good in it."

Kefin Garnett

3."Cher's performance in Moonstruck. She literally won an Oscar for her performance."

"Snap out of it!"


"Cher is amazing in everything. Moonstruck is great. I also love Mermaids and Mask. Holy cow what an actor."


MGM/UA Communications Co.

4."David Bowie in The Prestige. That one was kinda of surprising because he had a few movie roles, and most of the time, he was honestly a pretty terrible actor unless he was just playing himself (e.g. Labyrinth). But then along comes The Prestige, which has him challenging himself not only by playing against type but also doing an accent on top of it, and he’s genuinely really good!"

Closeup of David Bowie
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

5."Courtney Love in The People vs. Larry Flynt. Really leaps and bounds at her acting growth. If I remember correctly, she wanted to play Nancy in Sid and Nancy but ended up getting a bit part where she had one line and was on screen for just a few seconds. Absolutely terrible. And yet when she was in Larry Flynt, she was flat-out amazing. People at the time said that she was just playing herself so it wasn't a big feat, but those people didn't see how much she had blossomed from before and after. I found it to be really impressive."

Closeup of Courtney Love
Sony Pictures Releasing

6."Bob Barker in Happy Gilmore — 'The price is wrong, bitch!'"

Bob Barker
Universal Pictures

7."Dwight Yoakam was fantastic in Sling Blade. He was so convincing — and so easy to hate — as the violent, drunk asshole."

Dwight Yoakam
Miramax Films

8."Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Airplane! He was so good. From denying who he was to when he finally went off on the kid for his dad criticizing him. An amazing use of a celebrity cameo."

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Paramount Pictures

9."Mariah Carey in Precious. She was unrecognizable to me, and she really did well in that role as relatively small as that part was."

Closeup of Mariah Carey

10."Andre the Giant as Fezzik in The Princess Bride."

Closeup of Fezzik


"I sat next to Andre on a plane after he’d filmed Princess Bride, but before it was released. He was extremely nice. I told him he was my dad’s favorite wrestler. He told me he’d actually just finished making a movie for kids about a princess. He said he didn’t think it was going to be very popular, but he really enjoyed making it because, 'I can’t wrestle forever.'"


20th Century Fox

11."Wrestler Roddy Piper in They Live. Every time I watch the film, I’m always amazed at how well he can actually act. Yeah, the tough guy routine is the easy stuff, but for the in-between parts, Piper does an outstanding job."

Roddy Piper
Universal Pictures

12."Vinnie Jones was a professional footballer until Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels."

Closeup of Vinnie Jones
Gramercy Pictures

13."Bill Burr in The Mandalorian. Specifically the scene with the senior officer talking about Operation Cinder, up until he finally shoots the guy dead his facial acting is absolutely incredible."

Bill Burr

14."Meat Loaf in Fight Club."

Screenshot from "Fight Club"


"I might be wrong, but didn't he start off as a theatre actor and move into musical theatre?"


"Yes. He was hired essentially as an actor to record Bat Out of Hell because Jim Steinman who wrote all the music and lyrics wasn't a great performer."


20th Century Fox

15."Tom Waits is a gem; his portrayal of Renfield in Bram Stoker's Dracula is my favorite."

Tom Waits as Renfield
Columbia Pictures

16."Jack White was a great Elvis in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. But something tells me he's been rehearsing all his life for that opportunity."

Closeup of Jack White as Elvis
Sony Pictures Releasing

17."Steven Van Zandt from Bruce Springsteen's E Street band. He was great as Silvio Dante in The Sopranos. He had never acted before, if I remember correctly, and he killed the role."

Closeup of Silvio

18."Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova in Once. Neither of them were professional actors, but they did a great job."

screenshot from "Once"
Buena Vista International

19."Justin Timberlake was excellent in a now forgotten movie called Alpha Dog."

Closeup of Justin Timberlake


"He also was really good in The Social Network as the Napster guy. I'd seen him in interviews and so forth, and Timberlake captured a lot of his energy."


Universal Pictures

20."Tim McGraw in Friday Night Lights."

Tim McGraw


"Was gonna say Tim McGraw in 1883. He's a pretty solid actor. His wife Faith Hill was damn good as well."


Universal Pictures

21.Finally, "How is no one saying Dolly Parton in Steel Magnolias or 9 to 5?"

Closeup of Dolly Parton


"Because she is a goddamn national treasure, and it's just understood that everything she does is amazing!"


Tri-Star Pictures

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Now it's your turn! Who's a person not primarily known for acting who actually gave a really great performance in a movie or TV show? Sound off in the comments below!