Great Actors in Small Roles: Haley Bennett in The Magnificent Seven (2016)

Haley Bennett as Ellen Cullen in The Magnificent Seven (2016), Image Source: Pinterest

I wanted to take a moment to call out Haley Bennett’s performance in the 2016 remake of The Magnificent Seven.  I don’t do these type of blog posts often, but when I see an actor in a “smaller” role and that actor leaves just as much of an impression as the named actors, I do want to take a moment to highlight his/her performance.

I think that the role that Haley Bennett played was a crucial one to my enjoying the movie as much as I did.  She brings a level of pathos (emotion) to the story that was sorely needed.  The other male actors emoted, true enough, but they were all playing hardened men, seasoned killers, and (generally speaking), you don’t get to be a “tough guy” while still being able to emote.  Their performances, like their characters, had to come across as reserved.  About the only passionate emotion the male actors could display was anger–such as when Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke’s character) swears mightily when trying to train the townspeople to shoot. Yet, it is Bennett’s performance through her character Emily Cullen to express the rage and anguish (sometimes quiet, sometimes tear-filled) of a woman who has nothing else to lose after the villain’s actions.

Reaction Shots
While I could have wished that her character had a bigger role (speaking), her character does at least get quite a bit of screen time in relation to the other actors.  Many of her scenes are “reaction shots” (her character’s reaction to some action and/or dialogue by other characters).  This, to me, is where where she really makes me believe in Ellen Cullen.  Based on her emotions, I actually believe that Ellen would emote in much the same way that Bennett portrays on the screen.  While I wish Hollywood would involve women into the plot in a more integral way (a la Wonder Woman and Black Widow), Bennett’s portrayal of Ellen made an impression on me as I watched the movie and really stood out as a truly standout performance in a small role.

Hopefully, this blog entry will serve as a handclap of praise for a well deserved actor with a well delivered performance.  Great work!


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3 thoughts on “Great Actors in Small Roles: Haley Bennett in The Magnificent Seven (2016)

  1. I was very impressed with Haley Bennett in this movie, especially considering I discovered the last thing I’d seen her in was Music and Lyrics where she played a teen pop star. The two parts were so incredibly different and she played each one so well. When I can watch an actor in one movie and not think of their other character all the time, it means to me they are very good. Thus was Haley Bennett

  2. Small roles can sometimes be the most impressive, honestly. I really love when a small character totally smashes a role and does it incredibly well.

    1. Same here. I remember seeing Julianne Moore doing an excellent job as the doctor who notices and confronts Harrison Ford’s character in The Fugitive back in the 90s and she went on to become a major Hollywood star.

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