There Are No Small Parts – Re-Examined Part Three

Following up from my “There Are No Small Parts” blog post from Wednesday, I wanted to share a concrete example with you.

Alan Cumming in Eyes Wide Shut.

Cumming plays a hotel clerk in one very short scene with Tom Cruise. His function in the story is purely expository, he’s only there to give information to Tom Cruise so the story can continue.

The dialogue borders on banal:

CLERK: I’m sorry, sir. Mr. Nightingale has already checked out.

BILL: He checked out?


BILL: Did he leave a forwarding address?

CLERK: No, I’m afraid not, no.

BILL: When did he checkout?

CLERK: Um, about five o’clock this morning.

BILL: Five o’clock.


BILL: It’s a pretty early checkout, isn’t it?

CLERK: It is a little on the early side, yeah.

Cumming takes that small role, that bland dialogue, and acts Tom Cruise (the world’s biggest movie star) right off the screen:

Small part? Pshaw!

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Craig Mason


  • Another good example: Bronson Pinchot in “Beverly Hills Cop”. That 5 minute scene led to so much more for him career-wise.