Whosit Called?

It's time for another one of Janet's Tell It To Me Tuesdays, posted in timely fashion here on a Thursday. This week the young teacher from Jersey asks,

“Today I want to hear about the actors who are your favorite little known gems. You know, the type that you love to see in a movie, but from time to time even you have to look up their names?”

The easy solution would be to link to Hey It's That Guy and be done with it, but I'm sure there are some obscure characters on there that even I don't know. Also, that site could use some updating. I might remember him from such films as The X-files and Young Guns, but it's been a while since Terry O'Quinn was a H.I.T.G. Adam Baldwin is another one I feel has graduated from H.I.T.G. status. Actually, they leave the names on there for historical purposes, but for my purposes, I'll try to limit my choices to people you might recognize, even if you have no idea what their names are:

Clancy Brown
Where do I know him from?
His appearance has changed over the years, but his voice has been his most distinguishing feature. Whether playing the barbaric Kurgan in the original Highlander, a menacing captain of prison guards in The Shawshank Redemption, or his role as a general last season on Lost, you know who he is as soon as he speaks. Perhaps that's why I'm most familiar with his stint as the definitive Lex Luthor voice actor on various DCAU shows.

Bruce McGill
Where do I know him from?
I'll always remember the time he played a kindly, wise bartender who may or may not have been a manifestation of God on the series finale of Quantum Leap. While that's his most memorable role for me, with all the movies I rent, new and old, he keeps showing up in everything from The Last Boyscout to The Insider to The Legend of Bagger Vance to Collateral to Elizabethtown and more! These are just some of the films I've seen since I noticed his work, but there are a few I've seen like Timecop in which I didn't even realize he was there.

Gary Cole
Where do I know him from?
The name may or may not be familiar, but mention Office Space and I guarantee aficionados of the film will start exhibiting their Bill Lumbergh impressions. I also remember him as the creepy sheriff in the shortlived supernatural drama, American Gothic.

Brad Dourif
Where do I know him from?
Brad Dourif's been acting since the ‘70s, and his role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest may have typecast him as a person who's both dangerous, and a little bit off. He had crazy eyebrows in Dune as Piter De Vries, and no eyebrows as Grima Wormtongue in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I noticed his prominent recurring role in the first season of Star Trek: Voyager and realized he was the guy from Cuckoo's Nest. But Dourif's most famous role had him on camera for only ten minutes before his murderous character's soul was transported to a child's plaything, to return for at least five sequels. Show some hands class; how many people know that Dourif is the voice of Chuckie?

Leland Orser
Where do I know him from?
Whereas Dourif's characters are dangerous on the surface, Orser plays wide-eyed scrawny guys that can snap at any second. I won't mention where, but there have been occasions where I knew he was the killer as soon as I realized he was in the film. Even when he's just playing a nerd or a tech guy, I'm still wary of his character. Apparently he's a doctor on ER now, a frightening concept that would have me asking for second opinions if I were his patient. I haven't watched that show in about five or six years and it's amazing that it's still going strong, even if they put the occasional psychopath on staff. If you haven't seen him on ER though, then maybe you've caught him in Se7en, Independence Day, Alien: Resurrection, Saving Private Ryan, or Daredevil.

Amy Acker
Where do I know her from?
I think people should know who Amy Acker is, and while the majority of my readers probably know her as Winifred Burkle or Illyria from Angel, I'm not certain she's a household name just yet. Joss Whedon has a knack for casting young, attractive women as formidable characters on all of his shows, and I think they all should be famous, even if I'm limiting myself to one for now. Perhaps a “Women of Whedon” write-up is in my future. After Angel's untimely demise, Acker had decent guest spots on both Supernatural and How I Met Your Mother. She really stood out in recurring role on Alias, becoming a regular in the final season. I'm sure I've already gushed about the shot of her character in an office building, silhouetted against a window as the flaming ruins of a helicopter she just took out with a missile launcher falls past. In the “cool facts I found out while researching this post” department, she also voiced Huntress on Justice League Unlimited, one of the shows the aforementioned Clancy Brown voiced Lex Luthor in.

Dina Meyer
Where do I know her from?
Move over Yvonne Craig, there's a new Batgirl in town. OK, technically she played a wheelchair bound Barbara Gordon on the one season wonder Birds of Prey, but the few times we did see her in costume, either in flashback or assisted by an exoskelton, were memorable enough to erase the stain Alicia Silverstone left on the role. Reese Witherspoon might be the prettier version of Silverstone who can actually act, but I'm sure the Batgirl thing didn't help her career either. Meyer's Barbara Gordon took on the role of Oracle, coordinating the heroics of that show's version of Huntress, played by Ashley Scott, yet another actress that deserves to be a household name. As for Meyer, even a crapfest like Johnny Mnemonic didn't keep her down, and she played a prominent role as the spunky pilot in Starship Troopers. Where is she now? Look for her when Saw III hits theaters, reprising her role as a cop from the first two. She's survived so far, and will now be one of three common elements among the films. All bets are probably off this time around, but whatever happens hopefully we'll see more of her.

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That concludes my list for now. Have some famous almost nameless people of your own that you enjoy? Share them, and join in the fun!



Blogger b13 said...

Vincent D'Onofrio:
Full Metal Jacket
The Cell
Law and Order

9/14/2006 10:23 AM  
Blogger Darrell said...

Somehow, this is the FIRST I'VE EVER HEARD of Birds Of Prey. How do I get this on DVD? Amazon doesn't have it. Half.com and eBay both turned up nothing. DOH!

9/14/2006 2:56 PM  
Blogger neolithic said...

I remember Clancy Brown also from Starship Troopers. There is a great plethora of actors who play supporting roles in such a great fashion. I shall post my favourites soon (Brown and Brad Dourif definitely make my list too).

9/14/2006 6:16 PM  
Blogger Kev said...

Clancy Brown was also on Earth 2.
Bruce McGill was MacGuyver's best friend/pilot that was always getting into trouble.
Dina Meyer was also a Romulan in the last Star Trek movie (what a waste of beauty), and I believe she was in Roar - she was also in the first Dragonheart movie.
Apparently many of the Jossverse actors have voiced charactes on JLU. JLU is to Jossverse as Gargoyles is to Trek alumni...

I don't recognize the names of Brad Dourif or Leland Oser - I think I recognize the name Gary Cole - but I might be thinking of Gary Coleman... or Gary Seven.

9/14/2006 6:47 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

Although I still didn't recognize some of these actors (I don't know if we always travel in the same cinematic circles) I commend you for understanding the beauty of the question. You truly honed in on the obscurest of the obscure.:)

9/16/2006 7:11 PM  

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