25 Jesse Plemons Performances That Should Be On Everyone’s Watchlist

Jesse Plemons

Jesse Plemons is not what you would call conventionally handsome, yet has become one of the most in-demand actors in Hollywood. In certain roles, Plemons has even proven capable of carrying a film or show, occupying a wide range of roles with mastery. Already in his brief career, Plemons has set a torrid pace and amassed many roles that television and movie fans must take note of.

1. Friday Night Lights (2006-2011)

Friday Night Lights Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: Universal Television.

While Plemons' Landry Clark started as a side character on Friday Night Lights, he quickly emerged as the show's most reliable comedic relief and evolved into a layered primary character who fans truly felt they grew with throughout the show's run.

2. Fargo (2015)

Fargo Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: Nomadic Pictures.

It is difficult to stand out in a Fargo series chock-full of memorable characters braving the criminal underworlds embedded within Fargo, North Dakota's frigid winters. Yet, Plemons convincingly (as always) played Ed Blumquist, a butcher's assistant suddenly entangled in a criminal scheme thanks to his wife's reckless driving.

3. Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

Judas and the Black Messiah Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Plemons' turn as Roy Mitchell in Judas and the Black Messiah is one of many testaments to his range. Mitchell is the FBI Special Agent who convinces LaKeith Stanfield's William O'Neal to become an informant who infiltrates Chicago's Black Panther Party.

4. Game Night (2018)

Game Night Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Jesse Plemons is arguably the standout in Game Night, and that's saying something considering that the film also stars beloved acting veterans Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman. It's almost as if Plemons was born to play Gary, the sad-sack divorcee who is painfully aware that he is not invited to his neighbors' game night.

A comedic thriller that's the definition of a good time, Game Night would not be nearly the same film without Plemons' unsettling performance.

5. Drunk History (2014-18)

Drunk History Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: Gary Sanchez Productions.

From his very first prominent role in Friday Night Lights, Plemons has continually toed the line between serious acting and dry comedic wit. His turns as Charles Ponzi, Edgar Allan Poe, and William Kenward in Drunk History prove he remains in touch with his humorous side.

6. The Irishman (2019)

The Irishman Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: Netflix.

Showing up in a Martin Scorsese film is the ultimate indication that you are an “actor's” actor. Therefore, Plemons' role as Jimmy Hoffa's foster son, Chuckie O'Brien, in The Irishman was an indication that the Plem-Man had truly broken through into unlikely stardom.

7. El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)

El Camino A Breaking Bad Movie Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: Netflix.

Plemons has a knack for stealing the show even in minor roles, and Breaking Bad's Todd projected an air of simmering, unrealized evil that left fans' stomachs uneasy every time he entered a scene. It was only right that Todd reemerged in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. 

8. Black Mirror (2017)

Black Mirror Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: Zeppotron.

Plemons' looks made him a believable cast for a Black Mirror episode in which he lords tyrannically over the digital, Star Trek-like word of the USS Callister. 

9. I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

I'm Thinking of Ending Things Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: Netflix.

2020's I'm Thinking of Ending Things is a criminally underrated surrealist thriller helmed by writer and filmmaker Charlie Kaufman. Plemons plays a man introducing his girlfriend to his parents for the first time, but things are just a bit off. I won't spoil this critically acclaimed movie that many have yet to see (to their great detriment).

10. The Discovery (2017)

The Discovery Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Plemons yet again finds himself among a stellar cast in The Discovery, a film about a man who scientifically proves the existence of an afterlife. Described as a “romantic science fiction film,” Plemons holds his own amidst Robert Redford, Rooney Mara, and Jason Segel.

11. The Power of the Dog (2021)

The Power of the Dog Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: Netflix.

One of Netflix's premier releases of 2021, The Power of the Dog was anything but a traditional  Western. Even with stunning natural backdrops and a cast including Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst commanding attention, Plemons' role as rancher George Burbank warranted a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the 94th Academy Awards.

12. Breaking Bad (2012-13)

Breaking Bad Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: High Bridge Entertainment.

Breaking Bad had hit its stride and fostered a veritable addiction among fans by the time Plemons' Todd joined the cast of law-breaking, modern-day outlaws. When it comes to writing Jesse Plemons into your show or movie, the “better late than never” mantra undoubtedly applies.

13. Hostiles (2017)

Hostiles Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures.

Hostiles did not do the numbers you would have expected from a Christian Bale-led Western, but critics generally applauded the slow-paced film. The ability of actors like Bale and Plemons to power a dialogue-heavy script accounted for those positive reviews.

14. The Master (2012)

The Master Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: The Weinstein Company.

Paul Thomas Anderson is one of those directors who just doesn't miss, and his choice to cast Plemons as Val Dodd, one of several members of Philip Seymour Hoffman's cult, is yet another nod to Plemons' acting acumen. 

15. Love & Death (2023)

Love and Death Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: David E. Kelley Productions.

Love & Death retells the true story of a Texas housewife (Elizabeth Olsen) first driven by monotony into an affair, and then driven into something even more sinister. Jesse Plemons plays Olsen's partner in an extramarital entanglement, and both actors' performances warrant your attention.

16. Other People (2016)

Other People Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: Vertical Entertainment.

Just when you thought you'd seen Jesse Plemons occupy every conceivable role (a heck of a lot of them, at least), he shows up as a struggling comedy writer who is forced to move home and help his mom through her last days. Have you noticed the Plemons have a thing for conquering the most challenging, complex roles known to man?

17. Bridge of Spies (2015)

Bridge of Spies Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies is a riveting Cold War thriller in its own right, telling the story of the United States' exchange of captured pilot Francis Gary Powers for a Soviet Spy. Jesse Plemons' relatively minor appearance is just the Soviet-red cherry on top.

18. The Program (2015)

The Program Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: StudioCanal.

Plemons plays Floyd Landis, disgraced winner of the Tour de France and former teammate of Lance Armstrong on the U.S. Postal Service team. The Program is a thrilling biopic featuring a stellar cast including Plemons, Dustin Hoffman, and Ben Foster, who plays Armstrong menacingly.

19. American Made (2017)

American Made Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Sometimes, even Jesse Plemons has to do a movie for the fun of it. American Made was never going to win an Oscar for bringing the story of drug-trafficking pilot Barry Seal to the silver screen, but Plemons, Tom Cruise, and the rest of the cast delivered a thoroughly entertaining action flick.

20. Black Mass (2015)

Black Mass Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

The seminal film about Whitey Bulger (unless you count The Departed), Black Mass featured several heavyweight performances from Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, and yes, Jesse Plemons. Ol' Jesse has no problem grabbing the sawed off, making someone disappear, and making the deed appear utterly convincing.

21. Vice (2018)

Vice Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: Annapurna Pictures.

Considering that Jesse Plemons is still relatively young, the number of star-studded ensemble casts he has found himself in is remarkable. In Vice, Plemons served as the narrator, a fictional working-class man named Kurt. Narrating a film about Cheney that stars Christian Bale, Sam Rockwell, Amy Adams, and Steve Carell is a big freakin' deal.

22. The Post (2017)

The Post Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Roger Clark was a high-powered lawyer involved in the Pentagon Papers case. He was also the subject of one of Jesse Plemons' roles inspired by real-life characters. 

23. The Homesman  (2014)

The Homesman Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: Roadside Attractions.

The Homesman is a respectable Western starring Tommy Lee Jones, Hillary Swank, Meryl Streep, John Lithgow, and several other accomplished thespians (including Jesse Plemons). The movie combines an old-fashioned road trip narrative with a stellar cast, and Plemons (per usual) delivers one of the most memorable performances.

24. Olive Kitteridge (2014)

Olive Kitteridge Jesse Plemons
Image Credit: HBO Miniseries.

Critics loved HBO's 2014 miniseries Olive Kitteridge, but the series still doesn't get the love it deserves. It's a series for thinkers who are fans of slow-burn drama and deep character development. Plemons fills big shoes alongside Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins.

24. Jungle Cruise (2014)

jungle cruise
Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

While the movie didn't land as well as some thought it would, Jesse Plemons plays a great role as Prince Joachim, who is based on a real-life person. In the film though, he plays an ambitious German royal who is also looking for the Tree of Life. 

Author: Sam Mire

Title: Popular Culture and Film Writer

Expertise: Film and Television, Life Advice, Comedic Writing, Movies, DIY Handiwork, Books, Current Events and Popular Culture


Sam Mire is a freelance writer with over seven years' experience writing about entertainment, global events, American law, and sports. With a Journalism degree from the University of South Florida, Sam focuses on popular culture, film and television, and general life advice in his role for Wealth of Geeks.