2/04/2007

The Top 10 actors you don't know

Oh, it's THAT guy. That guy you've probably seen a million shows and maybe even movies, but you can never remember his name. Sure, there are great everyman actors who just melt into their roles like Michael Caine or William H. Macy, but we all know these guys. The guys in this list seem to do such a great job we never even care to know their names. They might be known for a certain character on a long-running show, or being a certain type of character in many shows, but they always do a great job, yet we never remember their names. Well, here's a list of what I think are the cream of the crop of this of great actors and some of their best roles (in no particular order).

Sam Elliot


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Despite having a 30-year career in the industry, Elliott's never really had a breakout role, but he's usually pretty good even when he's in absolute trash (see The Hulk for evidence). Mainly plays cop or cowboy roles, but is starting to show some real range in his later years with a great turn in Thank You for Smoking as a Marlboro Man-type who is suffering from lung cancer. Sadly, his next film, the sure to be laughable Ghost Rider starring Nicholas Cage probably won't raise his stock any, but he'll probably be the only person in the film not embarrassing himself, and that's saying something.

Alan Rickman


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Need an evil/smarmy foreigner? Alan Rickman is your guy, whether he's a German terrorist, a corrupt sheriff in jolly old Sherwood, or a slightly annoyed British actor who thinks he's above some silly role on a failed sci-fi show from many years ago. Granted, Rickman may finally get to be a known by name actor with his on-going role as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films, but he's been doing great work in just about everything for years before being locked up into this blockbuster franchise. He also Of course, still his most famous role to date is as evil bank robber Hans Gruber way back in the original Die Hard. But he's had some phenomenal work since as well in movies like Dogma & Galaxy Quest where he showed a great comedic knack.

Ron Perlman


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Probably the best reason he isn't that recognizable is that in his best known roles, you never see Perlman's face. His first major role was in the very weird short-lived 80s series Beauty & the Beast. Then he was a mainstay of many WB animated shows, namely as Clayface or Slade, which only major hardcore fans of those shows would probably even know. And finally in his biggest role to date, he is Hellboy. No wonder with roles like this it's hard to remember him as a seperate human being. But hey, if you need a guy who is used to spending most of his day in the makeup chair, Ron is definitely your guy.

Andre Braugher


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Sadly, Braugher's lot in life lately seems to be unrealized potential. He's had a good run, to be sure (most notably in Homicide), but he's also been in 4 failed series in the last 7 years (most recently, Thief, which seemed to have a lot of potential). He seems to be just on the cusp of real breakout stardom. It really is just a matter of luck and patience, so I really hope he has both.

Freddy Rodriguez


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Though easily best known as Federico Diaz in Six Feet Under, my personal fovarite role of his (which I hope we see at least one more time) is as Carla's brother Marco on Scrubs, where he really showed off some great comedic talent. Unofrtunately ever since Six Feet Under ended, he seems to be getting roles in fairly crappy films. Maybe that'll change depending on how big his role in Grindhouse is later this year.

David Morse


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I have a kind of weird six degrees connection to Morse, as my Dad was the post-production accountant on Morse's first movie role, Inside Moves.
But moving on, it's real simple: you need a guy who is a giant asshole, but a genuine threat, you call David Morse. I mean seriously, probably the closest thing Morse has played to a good guy in his long career was as a terrorist who wasn't cold-hearted enough to release nerve gas into San Francisco in The Rock. Getting a lot of recognition for a long-running guest spot on House that sadly seems to have to an end (although to be fair, I don't know where else they could go with his character at this point). So hopefully this may be the role that springs him into something where can can become a household name.

Stephen Root


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Though he is recognized today for his pathetic loser/pyromaniac roles in films like Office Space & Dodgeball, for me his best role by a long shot was as nutty billionaire Jimmy James in Newsradio. I could go into long, boring detail, but these clips speak for themselves:







Peter Macnicol


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It's sort of hard to believe that someone could go from a wacky art museum owner to a weird obsessive-compulsive but brilliant lawyer to a dangerous power-hungry adviser to the president, but Peter Macnicol has done all this, and quite flawlessly, I might add. He's able to be wacky, funny, endearing, and a dangerous zealot without missing a beat. He seems to be one of the few villains with actual intelligence on 24, so I hope he doesn't get put down anytime real soon.


Enrico Colantoni


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Probably the one guy on the list with a resume as varied as Macnicol. Colantoni has been a sleazy photographer on Just Shoot Me, a timid alien captain in Galaxy Quest, and of course, most recently, Veronica Mars father. Whether it's comedy or drama, Colantoni seems a natural at whatever role he's in. So much so, that you usually forget what he used to be in. I personally never recognized he did those previous roles I mentioned until I looked as his resume.

Adam Baldwin

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Just for clarification, he has no relation to those other Baldwins, but the fact that there is a whole clan of guys named Baldwin makes it all the harder for Adam to stand out. Whedonverse fans are very familiar with his great work as Hamilton on Angel and most notably as Jayne on Firefly. Like many on this list, Baldwin has a staple he's known for (gruff but cunning soldier/mercernary), but has shown plenty of considerable range an depth in his roles when given the chance. Much like Braugher, he seems to suffer from short-lived shows, like Firefly & Day Break. Hopefully like Braugher he'll have the luck and patience to finally get that big breakout role he deserves.

And that's the list. Hopefully these are all actors you'll start paying more attention to if their names pop up. I'll be back with a regular post after the Superbowl.

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