Keyser Söze's Big Break: The Roles That Made Character Actors Into Stars

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These 10 films propelled their stars from familiar-face status to big-name fame.

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John Hawkes is an actor you're more likely to know by face than name (he was the terrifying Teardrop Dolly in Winter's Bone and the cult leader in Martha Marcy May Marlene), but that may well change after Friday, when his starring vehicle The Sessions begins rolling out to theaters. Since its premiere back in January at Sundance, Hawkes's performance as a paralyzed poet has been generating Oscar murmurs; this may very well be the film that finally makes him the movie star he so richly deserves to be.

Not every great character actor gets that one breakthrough role that finally makes them a name above the title, but it does happen occasionally. We've assembled ten films that did just that.

This post also appears on Flavorpill, an Atlantic partner site.

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Jason Bailey is the film editor at Flavorwire, and has also written for Slate, Salon, and the Village Voice.

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