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."
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."
3."Cher's performance in Moonstruck. She literally won an Oscar for her performance."
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!"
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."
6."Bob Barker in Happy Gilmore — 'The price is wrong, bitch!'"
7."Dwight Yoakam was fantastic in Sling Blade. He was so convincing — and so easy to hate — as the violent, drunk asshole."
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."
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."
10."Andre the Giant as Fezzik in The Princess Bride."
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."
12."Vinnie Jones was a professional footballer until Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels."
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."
14."Meat Loaf in Fight Club."
15."Tom Waits is a gem; his portrayal of Renfield in Bram Stoker's Dracula is my favorite."
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."
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."
18."Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova in Once. Neither of them were professional actors, but they did a great job."
19."Justin Timberlake was excellent in a now forgotten movie called Alpha Dog."
20."Tim McGraw in Friday Night Lights."
21.Finally, "How is no one saying Dolly Parton in Steel Magnolias or 9 to 5?"
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.