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Hey, It's That Guy!

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By TheWolf - 11/09/11 at 03:00 PM CT

Has it ever hit you how many times you watch a movie and you suddenly recognize an actor who seems familiar? You've been watching the film for a while and suddenly some random character meanders across the screen, says something witty, gets hit by a car, or acts like a complete ass, and you think "I've seen that guy before!" but you can't exactly place what you've seen him in before.
This has happened to me quite a bit recently, and I decided that it should now be my job to help all of you out there in identifying some of these great character actors that usually don't have the leading role in anything, their names often get over looked but their face is identifiable nonetheless.

Some of these people have gone from being "Hey, it's that guy" into actual stardom, but others have remained in obscurity as the recognizable face with a name that you most likely look up or remember even if you do.

Without further ado... "Hey, it's that guy!"

Clint Howard
Clint Howard
Clint Howard
Where you have seen him before: Married With Children (TV Series), Austin Powers (all 3 movies), Little Nicky, Apollo 13, Happy Days (TV Series) and many more...

What he is known for: He is often found playing a skeezy / creepy person. He has been in over 200 films and television shows, mostly in bit parts.

Odds N' Ends: In real life Clint Howard is the younger brother of director Ron Howard. It would seem that in the beginning he rode his brothers coat tales to stardom, and now appears in a number of his brothers' movies. When he isn't acting, Clint is an avid golfer and, according to various sources, he boasts a 10 handicap. He's quoted as saying "I like what I'm doing and I hope it shows on the screen. Acting is a great gig. It pays well, I get to meet some nice people and it allows me to play a lot of golf. I'm a real lucky guy."

Colm Meaney
Colm Meaney
Colm Meaney
Where you have seen him before: Con Air, Law Abiding Citizen, Under Siege, Die Hard 2, Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Dick Tracy.

What he is known for: Colm Meaney is usually known for playing some kind of authority figure, whether it be a cop, a military commander or just a father with a forceful personality. He has a very strong presence on screen but it is rare to see him playing the focal role in any of his many endeavors.

Odds N' Ends: Irish-born actor Colm Meaney began acting at age 14. He started off as a theatre actor and he has appeared in a variety roles. His longest running part was with the Star Trek television series (Deep Space 9, and Next Generation) where he acted in a total of 225 episodes. Aside from playing imposing characters he is also known for having a great sense of humor and has appeared in a few comedy films.

Mike Starr
Mike Starr
Mike Starr

Where you have seen him before: Goodfellas, Dumb & Dumber, Ed Wood.

What he is known for: Mike Starr is usually known for playing "Bully" characters, everything from wiseguy gangsters and thugs to corrupt cops - he runs the gamut. Starr has appeared in 179 different films and TV shows since the 80s. While he isn't quite a lead actor, his looks are unmistakable and his personality can result in being a scene stealer. The best example is when pitted between Jim Carrey & Jeff Daniels in Dumb & Dumber's classic driving scene. His range of emotion from faked concern, to sheer frustration, to complete anger, and then to finding humor in the situation he sold it all, and he did it perfectly.

Odds N' Ends: Aside from having grown up in NY, Mike Starr is a someone who tends to keep his personal life out of the spotlight. From the various things that I could find out, most peoples personal accounts of meeting with him say that he is a very nice guy, completely different from the characters he plays.

Jim Broadbent
Jim Broadbent
Jim Broadbent

Where you have seen him before: Harry Potter Films, Gangs of New York, Erik The Viking, Superman IV, Moulin Rouge, Bridget Jones's Diary, Hot Fuzz.

What he is known for: British actor Jim Broadbent has a lot of hats when it comes to acting. He plays quite a variety of characters and he represents each one superbly. He has appeared in over 121 films and TV shows.

Odds N' Ends: He has a great sense of humor and worked closely with Rowan Atkison on Black Adder. In 2005 he went on to show how flexible he could be with his vocal talent by voicing "Madame Gasket" in the movie Robots. He is also the President of the Broadbent theater in Wickenby, UK. It was a former chapel turned theater and named after his father Roy Broadbent who was an artist/sculptor/furniture maker.

Chris Cooper
Chris Cooper
Chris Cooper

Where you have seen him before: Me, Myself & Irene, American Beauty, Borne Identity, The Patriot, October Sky.

What he is known for: Playing straight-laced characters, people of authority or deceitful people.

Odds N' Ends: Although he has been on TV and movies since the late 80s it wasn't until the late 90s that he became more recognizable. While in college Cooper studied ballet, and he double majored in Agriculture and Drama. Truly a jack of all trades.

Brad Dourif
Brad Dourif
Brad Dourif
Where you have seen him before: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Dune, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Deadwood (TV).

What he is known for: Often plays mentally disturbed characters, although he does try to get away from being pigeonholed into those roles.

Odds N' Ends: He was originally going to play "The Scarecrow" in Batman Forever when Tim Burton was still attached to the project, but once Burton left the project and Joel Schumacher took over the character was removed to make room for Two-Face and the Riddler. While most people wouldn't recognize him in the Child's Play series if you were to see his face, he reprises the voice role of Chucky in all of the films.

Dan Castellaneta
Dan Castellaneta
Dan Castellaneta
Where you have seen him before: The Pursuit of Happiness, Super 8, Greek (TV Series).

What he is known for: While you may not know him by face you will most certainly know his voice talents. Dan Castellaneta provides the voices for some of the most iconic characters in the last 20 years of TV. These include: Homer Simpson / Grandpa Simpson / Krusty The Clown, The Robot Devil (Futurama), The Genie (Disney's Aladdin TV show & Aladdin 2 [movie]), Earth Worm Jim and many, many more...

Odds N' Ends: Castellaneta while being very talented in creating different voices for cartoon characters, has also managed to appear in a number of live shows and movies playing smaller characters but always with great acclaim.

Jeff Garlin
Jeff Garlin
Jeff Garlin
Where you have seen him before: Curb Your Enthusiasm (TV Series), Daddy Day Care, Comedy Central Presents, Arrested Development (TV Series).

What he is known for: He usually plays a business guy, He's an ad exec in Daddy Day Care, an agent in Curb Your Enthusiasm and a CEO in Fun with Dick and Jane. He is known for being somewhat of an eccentric comic, his mannerisms and the jokes he tells don't always seem to reach everyone in the audience, but he'll keep pushing it until it becomes funny.

Odds N' Ends: He had a stroke prior to filming the first season of Curb your Enthusiasm, he says that you can see that his speech seemed a little slurred during many of the first few episodes, but he also attributes his quick recovery to that show because he had to spend so much time working to make things seem natural.

Brian Posehn
Brian Posehn
Brian Posehn
Where you have seen him before: Mr. Show With Bob and David (TV Series), Just Shoot Me (TV Series), The Sarah Silverman Show (TV Series), Dumb and Dumberer, Brutal Legend (Video Game).

What he is known for: Because of his imposing size and strange looks and equally odd yet highly recognizable voice he is usually cast a being some odd ball, or someone working a menial position. Posehn has clearly found his niche as he has become easily identifiable as a bit character in any role that he takes on.

Odds N' Ends: Posehn is a metal head. He loves heavy metal music and bases a lot of his stand up routine on it. Refers to himself as being an "Angry Nerd". He performed at the 2011 Gathering of Juggalo's and when some of his fans criticized this choice saying that his decision is "not metal." He replied by saying "Getting a paycheck is Metal" and he said that he has respect for the Juggalo fan culture.

Fred Stoller
Fred Stoller
Fred Stoller
Where you have seen him before: Everybody Loves Raymond (TV Series), Dumb and Dumber, Wizards of Waverly Place (TV Series).

What he is known for: He is known for his nasally voice. He is a stand-up comedian and he is also a writer and voice over specialist. He is most well known for playing Raymond's brother Gerard on Everybody loves Raymond. Because of the way he looks the majority of the parts that he receives in live action TV & film are smaller roles but he is generally a scene stealer when he does appear on screen. The best example is the phone booth scene that he had with Mike Starr (referenced earlier in this blog) in Dumb and Dumber.

Odds N' Ends: Stoller appears to be a very private person as well, aside from his accomplishments there aren't many interviews or personal quotes to throw in here. While he is pretty recognizable you have to give him credit for being someone who can keep the spotlight on him while at work, and humbly walk away from it at the end of the day.

Bob Clendenin
Bob Clendenin
Bob Clendenin
Where you have seen him before: My Name is Earl (TV Series), 10 Items or Less (TV Series), L.A. Noire (Videogame), Cougar Town (TV Series), Scrubs (TV Series).

What he is known for: Clendenin is usually cast as someone of limited intelligence. He has a very distinctive voice and it is always recognizable in the voice overs that he does as he rarely does anything to change it.

Odds N' Ends: While he often plays characters that are of slow wit, in reality Bob received a degree in Engineering from Cornell University. His own website says "Knowing the world would be safer if he wasn't designing bridges, he got and MFA in acting from Penn State". While he doesn't have a household name anyone that has television has likely seen him in the State Farm Commercial with his line "Awww I could have got a falcon!" He also mentions on his website that by being a character actor he is usually given an interesting name in the credits, his favorite include: "Slow Roger, Mr. Giggles, Plumber Dave, Louis the Stalker, Doofus, and, most recently, Bob the Demon."

Peter Stormare
Peter Stormare
Peter Stormare
Where you have seen him before: Constantine, Prison Break (TV Series), Armageddon, Fargo, The Big Lebowski.

What he is known for: He often plays people of different nationalities. He usually plays characters that are dark or on the edge of lunacy. With the exception of the TV Show Prison Break (Which is his first major role) he has always chosen background characters that have large impact on the scene. In Constantine he plays Lucifer, in Armageddon he is the Russian Cosmonaut who has been in space for too long.

Odds N' Ends: Born in Sweden, he got his start as a theatre actor at the Royal National Theatre of Sweden. He is an actor, writer, director and musician. He has his own record label "StormVox". His character John Abruzzi on the TV Series Prison Break was one that he developed as being a bad guy that you like to root for. He wanted his character to be very Shakespearean in the respect that while yes he did kill people, he always killed the people that you want to see die anyway. He is quoted as saying "I've done Hamlet, and no one talks about Hamlet killing five people. No one even talks about sending him to jail. It's The same thing for a character like Abruzzi. I think people root for him because he's just punishing people who are bad humans in a way."

Honorable Mentions:
This is for the people who had been a "Hey It's That Guy!" and made their way out of the background and into a lead role that has defined their acting abilities, and pushed them to have a name that people recognize.

Bill Paxton
Bill Paxton
Bill Paxton
Where you have seen him before: Aliens, Weird Science, Stripes, Predator 2, Apollo 13, Titanic, Tombstone, Club Dread, True Lies.

What he is known for: Bill Paxton first made an impression upon audiences as "Chet" the douche bag older brother in the movie Weird Science. He has been in quite a few big-budget films but almost always as a bit character. Most people recognize him from his classic line in Aliens "That's it man, game over man, game over!" He is also known for being killed in many of the movies he stars in.

Making the Break: Paxton got a small break in Broken Lizard's horror spoof "Club Dread", playing the Jimmy Buffet wannabe "Coconut Pete". He disappeared for a couple years only to return triumphantly in HBO's hit TV show "Big Love" playing the lead role of Bill Hendrickson.

Odds N' Ends: Paxton has gone on to directing as well as acting. He is quoted as saying, that he dreams of someday making films like Clint Eastwood did, "You have to be a self-starter out here at a certain point. It's important to take the reigns or, otherwise, you can be regaled to obscurity so quickly."

Sam Rockwell
Sam Rockwell
Sam Rockwell
Where you have seen him before: Iron Man 2, The Green Mile, Choke, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Heist, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Galaxy Quest.

What he is known for: He is known for playing mostly scumbag type characters, whether they be homeless, vagrant, or CEO of a Weapons design firm, it is rare that Sam plays the good guy.

Making the Break: Rockwell had always been a background character and he hadn't really stood out until he portrayed "Wild Bill" in the movie The Green Mile with Tom Hanks. This was a quick jumping point to the comedy Galaxy Quest with Tim Allen, & Sigourney Weaver, and the final proof of his acting ability came about in the movie "Heist" with Gene Hackman. He managed to achieve his first real lead role shortly afterward in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

Odds N' Ends: Rockwell takes a different approach to each character that he portrays. He enjoys being a character actor, but at the same time he rarely gets the lead in films and it puts him in a spot where he needs to take whatever job is being offered. He finds it hilarious that is always asked to play "hicks" or "Country Bumpkins" because he has always lived in cities. He is also admits that he builds his characters off of characters that his favorite actors and friends have done in the past, while he never does a straight impersonation of any one character he can point out all the multiple characters that he took from to build upon the one he is performing.

Hugo Weaving
Hugo Weaving
Hugo Weaving
Where you have seen him before: Lord of the Rings (Trilogy), V for Vendetta, The Matrix (Trilogy), Transformers, Captain America: The First Avenger.

What he is known for: In the 90's he was known as "Mr. Smith" from the Matrix. After 2001 however he became more known as Elrond from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. As recognizable as his face is, the subtle changes that he has for each character significantly affect how his character is perceived. He is also becoming more known as a voice actor as well as he has a great vocal range and it has put him in parts that people wouldn't identify him as. While he was "V" The man behind the mask in "V for Vendetta" most people didn't know it was him because you never see his face. He has also voiced the Decepticon character of Megatron in all three Transformers films.

Making the Break: Hugo had a large following in Australia where he was quite popular in film and in various television mini-series. It wasn't until 1999 When he hit his big break in the us playing Agent Smith in the film The Matrix.

Odds N' Ends: Born in Nigeria to British parents, he lived in many places growing up, from Nigeria to England, to Australia, to South Africa. Over the years Weaving has become more disenchanted with the big-budget blockbuster films. While he accepts some of the projects that are offered to him he doesn't hold much personal investment in them. He has voiced Megatron in the three Transformers films, and yet he has never met the director Michael Bay. While filming the second movie he admitted that he never watched the first one and really doesn't know any of the characters. He recently portrayed Red Skull in Captain America but he feels it will be unlikely that he will accept an offer to work on any further installments. He has done a lot to make sure that he is not typecast into any one particular role, and from the most recent interviews he seems to enjoy doing lower budget or independent films. Last August he was quoted as saying "I think I've had enough. I am not sure how many more (Big Budget Films) I will make. It doesn't feel to me as though it has been the majority of my work, though that's probably the way it seems to most other people."

Fred Willard
Fred Willard
Fred Willard
Where you have seen him before: Wall-E, A Mighty Wind, Everybody Loves Raymond (TV Series), Modern Family (TV Series).

What he is known for: Fred Willard is a comedian who started out doing Improv at Second City. Each of the characters that he plays always seem to have some of the lines improvised. He has been in every film made by Christopher Guest. He has no problem saying or doing things that seem random or obscure but he always adds something that turns it into comedy gold.

Making the Break: Fred is the only one in the group who has never quite made the break to a defined solitary lead role in a film, and yet he has managed to take his character roles and define himself so well that people everywhere know who he is by sight and by name.

Odds N' Ends: Fred is an alumnus of The Second City Improv group in Chicago. He auditioned for The Second City alongside comedian Robert Klein. He also founded an improv group called Ace Trucking Company, and currently he has a sketch workshop that he heads called The MoHos. Willard has a rare talent to use his comedy to span many generations. While he began his career back in 1967, he is so well known even doing recent voice overs, that he was a host for the Nickelodeon Fido awards. It is not often that an actor is recognizable for adults as well as children in everything from cartoons to R-rated films and be as well respected as Willard has become. He is also the only person to portray a live (non animated) character in a Pixar Film (President of the USA, WALL-E).

The final word:
I enjoy knowing the names and reputations of those who are simply called "That Guy" by those around me. I find that by knowing who "That Guy" is I can often find out more about the actor or actress and I look forward to seeing them in the various roles that they portray. Many of my friends have now gotten to the point where they will also be able to identify non lead actors by name. I strongly believe that the more people who know the names of the character actors, the more likely you will be to find the ones you enjoy in more roles. So the next time you are watching a film and catch yourself saying "Look who it is, it's that guy!" take a few moments to look "That Guy" up, you never know what other movies you'll be surprised to find them in.


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View Alex's Profile


Wrote on 11/09/11 at 10:43 PM CT

I did find myself saying "hey, it's that guy!" while reading this. The one shocker I had (which is a little off from what you are talking about) was that Josh Brolin was in Goonies. I checked in 2003 or 2004 what the cast was up to. Brolin was a nobody. Then, I checked two weeks ago and was blown away. Awesome post my friend.

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View Chris's Profile


Wrote on 11/09/11 at 04:31 PM CT

One of my favorite "Hey, It's That Guy" actors is J.K. Simmons - 111 movies and TV shows to his credit - probably best known for playing somewhat humorous characters (see Spider-Man, The Ladykillers, Juno) but not so much when he was playing Vern Schillinger in the brutal prison drama Oz on HBO. If nothing else, you should all recognize him from the recent Farmers Insurance commercials.

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