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14 Underrated Performances By Matthew Lillard, An Underrated Actor

November 11, 2020 23.9k votes 4.5k voters 153.1k views14 items

List RulesVote up the roles in which Matthew Lillard proved he's a scene-stealing actor of charisma, energy, and nuance.

Most people first remember seeing Matthew Lillard in Scream, Scooby-Doo, or SLC Punk!, but he's also appeared in a number of teen comedies. He grew up in front of the camera and came out on the other side as a fine character actor, taking on roles of all kinds and of his choosing. His eclectic tastes and well-rounded performance chops bring a little something extra to each character he plays, and more often than not, it's hard to look away when he's onscreen. 

No matter who he becomes - from a ruthless French colonialist to an undercover cop posing as a club owner - he brings realism and likeability to every role, and his oddball eccentricity always keeps us coming back for more. Check out a few of his standout characters, and vote up the ones that you think deserve more appreciation.

  • When Scream came out in 1996, it gave new life to an old genre with its witty commentary on worn-out horror tropes. Lillard played Stu, one half of the movie's serial-killing duo. Unlike his partner, Billy, he has no real motivation for his deeds other than "peer pressure" and dies when Sidney drops a TV on his head - or does he? There was talk of bringing him back for Scream 3, which never really materialized, but Lillard hopes to come back for Scream 5. He said

    There’s nobody that wouldn’t want to come back and reprise a role they got to do when they were a boy and be able to do something different as a man would be exciting. You just don’t get that opportunity often.

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    'Thir13en Ghosts' - As A Psychic Who Unleashes The Wrath Of Spirits

    Psychic Dennis Rafkin is a charismatic neurotic and flips out in the very presence of ghosts, so much so that he has seizures whenever they're nearby. While there are plenty of scares for the audience, Lillard's character offers some comic relief with great one-liners. While the movie was panned upon its 2001 release, it has since become a cult classic

    Thir13en Ghosts was the last horror film he would make. He said of the experience:

    I don’t like horror movies... A lot of horror movies are horrible, horrible films with bad storytelling - and not that I’m above that, but it’s hard to make good movies, and I think it’s even harder to make good scary movies. And the older I get, the more I can’t stand violence and have a hard time with seeing people die in horrific ways. It gets harder and harder to watch and deal with that stuff. Except for Thir13en Ghosts, I hadn’t really been a part of them - and it’s not for a lack of having opportunities - I would just rather not do horror.

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    'Scooby-Doo' - As Shaggy, Scooby's Loyal Companion  

    Scooby-Doo is fun and frivolous, and while it wasn't well-received by critics, Lillard is the perfect live-action Shaggy - he even got the voice down pat. While the movie did wonders for his wallet, it didn't do wonders for his career, at least in terms of typecasting. Nevertheless, he's thankful:

    Of all the movies I’ve ever done, that movie probably put me behind the eight ball more than any other film. It was a huge franchise, a big hit, but... nobody gives it any kind of credit or respect... for better or for worse, that movie has fed my family for 10 years.

    If it wasn’t for Scooby-Doo, I wouldn’t still be in California acting, I’d be somewhere else doing something else. Scooby-Doo the movie saved my bacon, to be honest - and it still does. That show is still around and it’s the constant job I have and I love doing the voice.

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    'SLC Punk!' - As A Rebellious Punk Rocker In A Conservative City

    SLC Punk! was a star-making turn for Lillard, and punk rocker Stevo is one of his best-known roles. Set in 1985 Salt Lake City,  the film follows him and Heroin Bob (Michael A. Goorjian) as they navigate their conservative environment. Today, it's a cult classic and scores of adults who grew up loving punk identify with the film and the characters' outsider status. Lillard said of the movie:

    I know the power that SLC Punk! had on kids. There’s a world of disenfranchised punk-rock kids all over America that need someone to tell stories about them. I just think that if you make a movie that respects the demographic, and it makes for a good movie, people will show up to support it.

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