A great character actor is absolutely winning on screen, but not so distracting that viewers really notice them. The best character actors inevitably give viewers a Keyser Soze revelation moment at some stage in their career, with the realisation that the actor has been in front of their eyes for what might be a lifetime.
Once you put together one piece of the career of that actor, everything should start coming into focus. You browse through their IMDB profile and suddenly discover just how many movies and TV shows you've seen plenty of times that they've been in. And once that happens, the actor is everywhere.
Welcome to the world of character actor Tom Hollander, an actor who flies so far under the radar that you're not sick of him, despite the fact he has been in almost everything you've seen.
In addition to his supporting role on The Night Manager, currently screening on SBS, Hollander has starred in his own series, the brilliant sitcom Rev, in addition to supporting roles on shows like The Thick of It, Absolutely Fabulous, Taboo, Ambassadors, Family Guy, and American Dad. You may also have seen him in films like Hanna, Valkyrie, Pride & Prejudice, Gosford Park, and Muppets Most Wanted.
In The Loop
in 2009, Hollander climbed the mountain of conflict to become Malcolm Tucker's verbal punching bag in the movie spin-off from The Thick of It. The film, In The Loop, has Hollander as Simon Foster, the UK Minister for International Development.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
The real impossible mission of these films is remembering anything that happened in them ten minutes after leaving the cinema. But, if you can, cast your mind back to the end of the film where Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, and house flipper Jeremy Renner press the UK Prime Minister to reveal that he was instrumental in setting up the bad guys organisation The Syndicate. That Prime Minister? Mr Tom Hollander.
As a British actor, it is inevitable that you will be called upon to do some wig work on screen. In HBO's mini-series about US President John Adams, Hollander made an appearance as King George III. Here he appears on screen opposite series lead Paul Giamatti with both actors seeking to see who can come off as more ornery.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest | Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Speaking of wig work, Hollander could again be found under a thatch of wig for his role in two of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Here he played the kind-of villainous Lord Cutler Beckett.
Do movies get more charming than this? Good luck finding one.
Completely uncharming in the film, however, is Hollander, who plays an old family friend who agrees to let the main character, Tim (Domhnall Gleason) live in his home. He's thoroughly unpleasant in the absolute best of ways.
One show you won't find Hollander in is the wildly popular Game of Thrones. He had been offered the part of brothel owner Littlefinger, but chose to turn it down: “We were doing Rev at the time and I didn’t want to. But had I been told that Game of Thrones would become the biggest show in the world... funnily enough, somebody did say ‘you should think seriously about that’ and I was ‘No, no, no’. I wasn’t particularly drawn to the wolf pelt thing. I was thinking ‘six years of wolf pelt in Belfast?’.”
You can find Tom Hollander as part of the main cast of The Night Manager, airing Wednesday nights on SBS at 9:30pm. The series is also streaming on SBS On Demand: