Breakthrough role

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A breakthrough role, also known as a breakout role,[1] is a term in the film industry to describe the performance of an actor or actress which contributed significantly to the development of their career and beginning of critical recognition. A breakthrough role is often a significant increase in importance in the actor's part in the film, such as moving up from a minor character to one of the main cast or a "high impact" role in a film which has mainstream success and results in the actor's widespread recognition and popularity.[2] A breakthrough performance has also been defined as one which "attracts the attention of film critics, or receives rave reviews and is subsequently nominated for many major film awards".[3]

Lord Rohan in The Man in Grey has been cited as James Mason's breakthrough performance.[4] The television film adaptation of Gideon's Trumpet has been referenced as Lane Smith's breakthrough role, despite lacking a theatrical release.[5] Similarly, the BBC series Pennies from Heaven has been highlighted as the breakthrough of Bob Hoskins.[6] Brandon Lee's starring role in The Crow has been cited as his breakout, though it was also his final film as he died when a prop gun malfunctioned on the set of the film.[7][8]


  1. ^ Smith, Michael. "Breakout role revisited". Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  2. ^ Squire, Jason E. (1 May 2006). The Movie Business Book. McGraw-Hill Education (UK). p. 226. ISBN 978-0-335-22002-1.
  3. ^ Porter, Lynnette (3 June 2013). Benedict Cumberbatch, In Transition: An Unauthorised Performance Biography. Andrews UK Limited. p. 170. ISBN 978-1-78092-437-3.
  4. ^ Mayer, Geoff; McDonnell, Brian (1 January 2007). Encyclopedia of Film Noir. ABC-CLIO. pp. 280–. ISBN 978-0-313-33306-4.
  5. ^ Scivally, Bruce (3 October 2007). Superman on Film, Television, Radio and Broadway. McFarland. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-7864-3166-3.
  6. ^ Welsh, James Michael; Whaley, Donald M. (2013). The Oliver Stone Encyclopedia. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-8108-8352-9.
  7. ^ Lott, M. Ray (1 January 2004). The American Martial Arts Film. McFarland. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-7864-1836-7.
  8. ^ Cettl, Robert (12 October 2014). American Film Tales. p. 51. ISBN 978-1-312-56680-4.

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