As kick-ass superspy Jason Bourne hits cinemas with Matt Damon speaking just 25 lines in the entire movie, never has the phrase “actions speak louder than words” seemed so relevant…
And he’s not alone. The following films all feature actors in lead roles – no cameos or silent movies – and what will leave you speechless is the money that can be earned from keeping schtum, as well as how often brilliant performances require almost no dialogue…
1. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: Judgment Day – 700 words
In 1991, Arnold Schwarzenegger was paid $15 million to star in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a movie in which he speaks just 700 words in 137 minutes. That’s less than six minutes of speech and roughly $21,429 per word – but they’re some of the most iconic lines of all time. Hasta la vista. Baby.
2. Henry Cavill in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – 43 lines
Looks like the cat(woman) had Superman’s tongue in this movie, as Henry Cavill only uttered 43 lines of dialogue throughout the whole thing (although to be fair, talking and smashing up buildings at the same time can be quite demanding). At the film’s release a lot of the reviews were scathing, and many hounded the script… or lack thereof. Now, you can kind of see what they mean.
3. Matt Damon in Jason Bourne – 25 lines
Apparently Matt Damon only speaks about 25 lines of dialogue in the upcoming Jason Bourne. Why? Because his character is lonely after the death of his girlfriend in the second film. In an interview with the Guardian, Damon said: “I remember [screenwriter] Tony [Gilroy] writing me an email saying, ‘You do realise what this means? You do realise you’re not going to talk in this movie.’ I said, ‘No, I love that.’”
4. Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands – 169 words
Instead of reams of dialogue, Johnny Depp used quirky movements and awkward expressions to create the character of Edward Scissorhands in 1990. His dialogue was so minimal that he only spoke 169 words in the movie. That’s just over a minute of Edward speaking while the rest were spent wandering around looking simultaneously scared and surprised.
5. Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant – fewer than ever
This epic marks not only DiCaprio’s first Oscar win after six nominations but, most importantly, his fewest words of dialogue in a major role (almost as few as that bear). Turns out all those times you didn’t win, Leo, all you needed to do was hold your tongue.
6. Ryan Gosling in Drive – 116 words
In the entire film, Gosling’s character Driver speaks only 116 lines, a total of 891 words. To be fair to him, he was playing an enigmatic outcast – as per – and he’s also so goddamn handsome he doesn’t need to say anything. He can just stand there for all I care.
7. Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin – about 3 lines
This is the only female example we could find, which perhaps says a lot. As one reviewer put it, there are “about three lines” of dialogue in this movie, and it’s enough. Johansson’s chilling performance as an alien in human guise driving around Glasgow and attempting to entice real men into her van makes an impact without the need to say very much at all.