This Actress is No Second Fiddle

by Aly Semigran

Amy Ryan is set to star opposite Tom Hanks in an upcoming Steven Spielberg project. In case that's not already enough incentive to see the film — which chronicles the true story of a U.S. attorney enlisted by the CIA during the Cold War to help with a negotiation — the script is also being penned by the Coen Brothers. Yep, beloved actress Amy Ryan will be a perfect fit for this KGB drama that practically screams Oscar. And that's because the 44-year-old character actress has long been Hollywood's underrated secret weapon.

In the Spielberg film, Ryan will play Hanks's wife, but don't believe for one second that the actress will be nothing more than the second fiddle to the biggest star in the world. That's because the Oscar-nominated actress has always been a captivating, game-changing presence, even when she's in supporting roles.

Case in point: Ryan was the bright spot on the otherwise lackluster second season of The Wire . Her character, the sweet, smart Officer Beadie Russell, gave the acclaimed HBO crime saga some heart and made for one of the most likable characters on the entire series. Dominic West's Detective Jimmy McNulty may have been the main star of the show, but it was Ryan's Beadie that broke his exterior and actually made him a better man. The same could be said for her turn as Holly Flax on The Office. She may have been a lot like Steve Carell's cringe-worthy Michael Scott at times, but she still made him a better version of himself in the end. They were meant to be, but she wasn't just there as a catalyst for Michael to move on, rather a character that elevated the entire series. Plus, she was just damn funny on it.

And while Ryan has turned out two great female characters on two great television shows, she's perhaps made an even bigger mark on film. Though she has been a working actress since the early 90's, her breakout came in 2007 when she starred in Ben Affleck's harrowing crime drama Gone Baby Gone . Yes, that movie was Affleck's return to form, but it was Ryan alone who earned the film's lone Oscar nomination for her unsettling performance as a deadbeat mother. It wasn't just her wicked Bah-stin accent, rather her completely nerve-rattling transformation into a total monster.

But, Ryan didn't stop at Gone Baby Gone. The actress kicked ass in 2010's Green Zone, charmed in 2011's indie comedy Win Win, and was able to roll with the punches in 2013's Clear History, among other standout roles. The Spielberg/Coen/Hanks project was already destined to be great, but it's the addition of Amy Ryan that truly makes it as a must-see.

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