10 Great Supporting Performances by Actors Who Usually Lead

Meryl Streep, A Prairie Home Companion

Robert Altman was one of those filmmakers who had such a reputation as an actor’s director that he could get just about any performer, no matter how big or how hot, to work for him (usually for a fraction of their customary asking price). Take, for example, the great Meryl Streep, who appeared in two films in 2006: the leading role in The Devil Wears Prada (which nabbed her an Oscar nomination — her fourteenth), and a small role in Altman’s final picture, A Prairie Home Companion. That movie’s lead (if there is one) is Garrison Keillor, playing himself; Streep is Yolanda Johnson, one-half of a sister singing team appearing on GK’s show. Lily Tomlin plays her sister, Lindsay Lohan plays her daughter, and all three — hell, the whole cast — do the kind of warm and winning ensemble work that was Altman’s stock-in-trade.