10 Favorite Small Screen Scene-Stealers

March 12th, 2012 2:00pm EDT

neil patrick harris I once had dreams of becoming an Emmy-Winning actress, but thanks to a traumatizing audition for a middle school drama club and being roughly a few inches shy of Snooki-esque shortness, those dreams never panned out. I’m happy to leave the acting to the professionals, and admire their work as a fan and critic. For this television-aholic, there’s nothing better than beholding a great actor who steals every frame of their scene.

Here is a list of my favorite scene-stealers:

Neil Patrick Harris, “How I Met Your Mother”

Neil Patrick Harris’ portrayal of Barney Stinson, the suit-loving, womanizing screwball is nothing short of legend—wait for it—dary. It takes an insanely talented actor to portray Stinson, who is capable of nearly sociopathic levels of deception, in a way that audiences can simultaneously cheer on his success, revel in his epic failures and love him just the same. Harris' work on "How I Met Your Mother" has been nominated for an Emmy four times, and it’s a crime against comedy that he hasn’t won yet.

Mayim Bialik, “The Big Bang Theory”

Sometimes the stars align to fatefully design a perfect role for an actor. For “Blossom” star and real-life neuroscientist and author, the fated role was on “The Big Bang Theory” as Sheldon Cooper’s (Jim Parsons) socially awkward girlfriend, Amy Farrah Fowler. Upon joining the show in its third season, Bialik infused the geek-friendly sitcom with an effervescent and female energy it needed. Two seasons later, Bialik's Amy Farrah Fowler is still a gawky, harp-playing, affection-starved genius who can hold her with double Emmy-winner Jim Parsons and the rest of stellar Big Bang cast. Brava, Dr. Bialik.

Scott Caan, “Hawaii Five-0”

If Alex O’Loughlin is Five-0’s hero, then Scott Caan is its heart. Caan plays Detective Danny Williams, dedicated partner and sidekick to O’Loughlin’s Navy SEAL Steve McGarrett, with sarcastic abandon. But Williams’ hilarious cynicism is merely flimsy armor for his palpable sensitivity. McGarrett might leap off buildings to save a suicidal suspect and embark on unauthorized rescue mission in North Korea as a favor to a friend, but Danny selflessly coached his ex-wife through the birth of a son he thought was his. If that’s not worthy of a Medal of Honor, nothing is.

Caan will get his turn as leading man as O’Loughlin has taken a brief break from shooting for treatment for dependency to prescription drugs due to a shoulder injury, according to I hope Danny blows a few things up in honor of his partner, dotes on his daughter and borrows McGarrett’s uniform.

Megan Hilty, “Smash”

I have a hard time rooting for “Smash’s” star-in-making, Karen Cartwright, played “American Idol’s” Katharine McPhee, because she is too reserved, too passive and too green for the leading role Broadway show about the life of bombshell Marilyn Monroe. However, newcomer (and actual Broadway baby) Megan Hilty had me at her first high note. Not only does Hilty look the part, she effortlessly slip effortless into Monroe’s feathery and flirty persona. She also manages to ground nemesis Ivy Lynn’s scheming behavior with an honest vulnerability that is more believable than McPhee’s doe-eyed innocence. If you were bummed when Ivy earned the part of Marilyn Monroe, her performance of "Smash's" original songs, like "Let's Be Bad," will blow your skirt up.

Gabriel Mann, “Revenge”

Without billionaire cyber CEO Nolan Ross, “Revenge” just wouldn’t be as sweet. Star Emily VanCamp (“Brothers & Sisters”) is all hardness and steel as she destroys the lives of the rich Hamptonites who helped frame her father for treason with little remorse. As her only confidant, Ross provides the necessary comic relief, eccentricity and one-liners the show needs to off-set the manipulation and drama. My favorite Nolan Quote: "Girlfriend keeps poppin’ up like the homicidal stripper version of whac-a-mole."

Gabriel Mann ("The Bourne Supremacy") plays Nolan like a hybrid of Mark Zuckerberg and Peter Pan. At his core, Nolan just wants compansionship and a happy ending, and who can’t relate to that? "Revenge" won't be back until April, so until then, we can only clutch our beloved whale cams and plot our payback for ABC for taking our tv-crack away.

Misha Collins, “Supernatural”

“Supernatural,” The CW’s sci-fi thriller about two brothers’ road-tripping quest to kill monsters, has always been a two-man show starring Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, whose palpable chemistry and attractiveness have attracted the loyalty of dedicated fans. So it was nothing short of divine intervention when Misha Collins’s warrior angel Castiel joined the cast in season 4 and managed to steal focus from the two leads. Collins plays Castiel a peculiar mix of intensity and childlike ignorance as he began to interact with the humans he’d watched from a distance since creation. The prayers of the fans who, protested and mourned his presumed death earlier this season, will finally be answered when Collins returns this Friday on The CW at 9 p.m EST. Hallelujah!


The Troubletones, “Glee”

New Directions is a scrappy glee club that does their best to respectfully battle intimidating competition like the preppy Warblers or the musical daredevils Vocal Adrenalin. However, their thunder was stolen this season by The Troubletones, a choir founded by defected New Directions members Mercedes Jones, Santana Lopez and Brittany S. Pearce (Amber Riley, Naya Rivera, and Heather Morris, respectively) as a way for these characters to escape Rachel Berry’s (Lea Michele) sun-blotting ego. The short-lived Troubletones sassed through girl power anthems like Destiny’s Child “Survivor” and Kelly Clarkson’s “What Does Kill You (Stronger),” and like most divas, never got the credit they deserved. I’d much rather root for this group than the ill-prepared New Directions who refuse to let all of their stars shine.

Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White, “Once Upon A Time”

As a child, I never subscribed to the fairytales that painted would-be princesses as helpless dames with cohorts of fluffy woodland creatures. Thankfully, ABC’s fantasy drama, “Once Upon A Time,” doesn’t either. Goodwin’s Snow White is a rogue princess who can not only fend for herself, but save her Prince Charming from trolls and treacherous kings. Goodwin’s innate softness keeps Snow White from turning into Lara Croft with dwarf homies, but her quiet strength ensures she’ll never be anyone’s damsel. If only that fierceness translated White’s alter ego, yawn-worthy wallflower Mary Margaret.

Damon Wayans, Jr., “Happy Endings”

“Happy Endings” is an absurd comedy that does the unthinkable: it actuallymakes me laugh. Most of those tear-inducing giggles stem from the amahzing Damon Wayans Jr.’s (“The Other Guys”) comedic brilliance. Wayans plays Brad Williams, a brotha who’s not afraid of gleeful twirling, loving his wife or relaxing bath. Wayans may have inherited his good looks from his father, comedian Damon Wayans Sr. (“My Wife And Kids,” “In Living Color”), but his style is uniquely his own.

Phaedra Parks, “The Real Housewives of Atlanta”

So “The Real Housewives of Atlanta’s” Phaedra Parks, Atlanta’s hottest entertainment attorney who once represented Bobby Brown, isn’t an actor, but she is a bonafide scene-stealer nonetheless. Whether she’s educating the masses on the importance of protecting oneself from a “lusty spirit” with a prayer cloth, eagerly perusing the items of a chic sex shop or booking a stripper with a ridickulous finale for a friend’s birthday party, Phaedra is captivatingly kooky. It’s rare to find a Housewife who can avoid the weave-ripping catfights and pointless drama without being fired, but she excels at it with class, humor, and sillyness. Well played, counselor.

Related: Alex O'Loughlin, Amber Riley, Emily VanCamp, Gabriel Mann, Ginnifer Goodwin, Glee, Hawaii Five-O, Heather Morris, How I Met Your Mother, Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Katharine McPhee, Mayim Bialik, Megan Hilty, Misha Collins, Naya Rivera, Neil Patrick Harris, Once Upon A Time, Phaedra Parks, Revenge, Scott Caan, Smash, Supernatural, The Big Bang Theory, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Starpulse Exclusives, Video, Reality, Comedy, Action & Adventure, Drama, Sexy Celebrities, Successful Celebrities, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, The CW, BRAVO

Photo Credits: CBS Broadcasting Corp; NBC Universal; American Broadcasting Company; The CW Network

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