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  • A character actor is a supporting actor skilled at playing distinctly unusual, interesting, or eccentric characters, such that they are "almost unrecognizable from part to part, and yet play many, many roles convincingly and memorably." The term, often contrasted with that of leading actor, is somewhat abstract and open to interpretation: in a general sense, all actors can be considered as character actors since they all play "characters", but the usual sense is an actor who plays a distinctive and important supporting role. Sometimes it describes an actor who plays characters who are very different from themselves, while in another sense it describes an actor who specializes in minor roles. In either case, character actor roles are more substantial than bit parts or non-speaking extras. The term is used primarily to describe television and film actors, and is less used to describe theater actors. An early use of the term was in the 1883 edition of The Stage, which defined a character actor as "one who portrays individualities and eccentricities." Unlike leading actors, they are generally seen as less glamorous.

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