10 Best Laurie Metcalf Roles
While audiences might know her best from her long run on Roseanne, Roseanne’s revival, and Roseanne’s spinoff The Conners, Laurie Metcalf has actually spent most of her years on the stage. She started out in the same graduating class as John Malkovich and Joan Allen, eventually landing a role on television but never forgetting her theater roots. She’s an invaluable asset when it comes to Broadway productions, currently in possession of a couple of Tonys, and just as essential a force when it comes to television and film. She might not take many roles, but one can be certain that she’s not going to waste her talent on something frivolous or flat-out bad. Metcalf’s filmography seems to be as carefully curated as any, filled with all kinds of award-winning and award-nominated roles and memorable performances throughout the years. While she’s gotten close to an Academy Award, she has yet to actually win one — based on how solid her filmography is, there’s no doubt she’ll earn one eventually.
Her most recent feature film role on the list also happens to be her most recent Academy Award nomination. Her role in Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Bird is as important as the titular character’s — in fact, she plays her mom. For a movie about a tumultuous mother-daughter relationship, it’s clear that she’s integral here. Perhaps that’s why it’s her best role on screen so far — Gerwig seemingly realizes her talent and allows her to take the stage, so to speak.
Leaving Las Vegas
Based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, Leaving Las Vegas is a hard-to-watch film about a suicidal man (played by Nic Cage) who, after being fired and divorced, decides to make his way from LA to Las Vegas. Metcalf comes into play as a landlady, a seemingly insignificant role that is made all the better by her sheer charisma and talent. The movie’s hard to watch but Metcalf makes it better.
Starring, written, and directed by Warren Beatty, 1998’s Bulworth is a scathing dark comedy about the democratic party and the lengths politicians will go to in order to get elected. Metcalf might be in a minor role here, playing the character Mimi, but her presence is undoubtedly notable. Its satire is relevant (both in the 90s and today) and its cast is great, helped in part by Laurie Metcalf.
Desperately Seeking Susan
One of the most charming cult classics of the 80s, Desperately Seeking Susan stars Madonna and Rosanna Arquette as an elusive, carefree woman and a bored housewife convinced she’s someone else. Metcalf plays Leslie, a friend, and a key figure in the retrieval of Arquette’s character. It’s a whimsical screwball comedy with an excellent soundtrack and memorable performances all-around.
It’s impossible to exclude the role that made her famous — Laurie Metcalf as Jackie, Roseanne’s sister, proves to be one of the most memorable (and long-lasting) characters in sitcom history, playing the character without fail over the course of twenty years. Roseanne herself might be off the show now, but Metcalf and the rest of the cast remain strong. There’s no telling how much longer Jackie will be gracing televisions, but there’s no reason not to enjoy it while it lasts.
Taking place within the Internal Affairs Department of the Los Angeles police department, this 1990 thriller sees Laurie Metcalf as Amy Wallace, partner to Andy Garcia’s character Raymond, two police officers responsible for keeping a watch on a potentially dirty cop. Coming from the same director as Leaving Las Vegas, it’s no surprise that Metcalf is utilized to the fullest extent in this film. It’s a relatively unique thriller, and Metcalf’s filmography is better because of it.
One of the most underrated animated Disney movies of the 2000s, Treasure Planet sees Laurie Metcalf playing the mom of lead character Jim Hawkins. Named Sarah, she’s in charge of running the inn back home near where the ship crashes at the beginning of the story. She’s integral to the first act, proving that even when she’s typecast she can manage to find a way to stand out.
One of the last great John Hughes movies, Uncle Buck is obviously a vehicle for John Candy. Still, with Laurie Metcalf in a supporting role, you really can’t go wrong with this one. It’s a classic 80s comedy for a reason, and while Candy is obviously great, Metcalf deserves some recognition here too. It’s always going to be iconic, and there’s certainly plenty to love about it.
A sprawling biopic following the investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy with an all-star cast, JFK is a notable film for Metcalf. She’s joined by plenty of other A-listers, actors like Sissy Spacek, Kevin Costner, and Tommy Lee Jones, but she still knows how to make the role her own despite being surrounded by stars. It’s a long movie, giving everyone plenty of time to make a mark.
The Toy Story films
This one might be surprising, but Laurie Metcalf is actually the voice behind Andy’s mom in all three (soon to be four) Toy Story films. While the movies might be all about Andy and his toys, his mom is an ever-involved presence in the kid’s life and, therefore, a memorable part of each film. Whether it’s Andy’s birthday party in the first film or his college farewell in the third, Laurie Metcalf’s role is a touching and lovable one.
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