So as I mentioned, I’ve been watching a lot of Dark Matter lately. Besides for the intriguing overall story, it’s just great seeing that guy again. Y’know, that guy… from that thing! Oh, I know you know that guy! Right? Because we all have those guys/girls – actors and actresses who we’re always seeing in our favourite shows and really love their work, but because they’re always playing minor roles or support characters, we just never remember their names. Or even learn their names in the first place!
So today is all about honouring these people, putting a name to these often nameless heroes and maybe even learning a thing or two about them!
- Roger Cross
The “guy from that thing” that actually inspired this post. The Jamaican-born Canadian actor is currently seen on screen as Six in Dark Matter and time-traveling terrorist Travis in Continuum, but you probably know him best as loyal CTU Agent Curtis Manning in 24. When you need a big muscular every-man who looks like he would hug you as quick as he would kick your ass, Cross is your man.
Most memorable appearances: 24, Dark Matter, Continuum, First Wave, Chronicles of Riddick, X2
- Vincent Schiavelli
If you ever needed somebody to appear both creep and/or sad in your movies in the 80’s and 90’s, you just turned to the best: character actor Vincent Schiavelli. A veteran of stage and screen with a gigantic list of acclaimed supporting roles, the 6ft6″ tall Schiavelli proved that you didn’t need to look like a young Marlon Brando to make it in Hollywood, turning his towering stature and iconic droopy features into a meal ticket. The fact that he was actually a very good actor as well, also helped tremendously.
Also of interest is that Schiavelli also had a burgeoning side career as very successful cookbook writer! Sadly, Schiavelli passed away in 2005 from lung cancer.
Most memorable appearances: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ghost, Batman Returns, Death to Smoochy!
- Robert Davi
When it comes to being good at being bad, few could do it as well as Robert Davi. From facing down James Bond in Licence To Kill to scaring some kids in The Goonies, Davi always made for an incredible villain throughout his lengthy career. Ironically, when he wasn’t playing a crook, you would mostly find him on-screen on the other side of the law as a cop! He starred as FBI Supervisory Special Agent Bailey Malone in 90’s TV series Profiler and also as the hilariously named FBI Special Agent Big Johnson in Die Hard.
But just playing cops ‘n robbers isn’t Davi’s only claim to fame, as he is also a classically trained singer whose 2011 album Davi Sings Sinatra — On The Road To Romance landed at the #6 spot on the Billboard charts.
Most memorable performances: Profiler, Die Hard, Licence to Kill, Goonies, Wiseguy, Showgirls, Son of Pink Panther
- William Sadler
Speaking of Die Hard, you know that guy doing naked karate at the start of Die Hard 2 is also Death in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. Welcome to the versatile and diverse acting career of William Sadler. Boasting a degree in Speech Communications, Sadler is actually a qualified speech teacher and thus well versed in several accents. All of which he has turned into an ability to play just about every type of role you can throw at him. War hero, Shakespearean character, US President, small town sheriff, demonic drifter, sci-fi secret agent and more; Sadler has played them all!
Most memorable performances: Die Hard 2, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, The Shawshank Redemption, Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight, The Green Mile, Hawaii Five-O
- Jennifer Coolidge
Wait, you mean her name isn’t “Stifler’s Mom”?! Yes, Jennifer Coolidge really shot into the public eye as the mature and sexy high-school boy seducing Stifler matriarch in the American Pie movies, but she’s since turned that fame into a string of comedy roles in movies and on television. If your sitcom/comedy needs a ditzy blonde with a nasally inflection or quirky middle-aged woman-next-door, both of whom can go from frumpy to sexy on the drop of a dime, the 45-year old Coolidge is the one to call.
Most memorable performances: American Pie series, Joey, Legally Blonde 1 & 2, A Cinderella Story, 2 Broke Girls
- Bill Duke
Typecasting isn’t a good thing, but when you’re a 6ft4″ actor with a bald head and sorta-deranged looking eyes, chances are that you’re going to be playing some kind of tough guy. And that’s exactly what Bill Duke has done throughout the course of his 40-year career, spending most of it in the action/crime genre, standing next to some of the most famous badasses the movie industry has ever seen, from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Steven Segal to Carl Weathers. Oh and also Whoopi Goldberg.
And of course, he’s also responsible for one of the greatest lines in action movie history when he hissed out this threat in Predator:
Most memorable performances: Predator, Commando, Action Jackson, Exit Wounds, American Gigolo, Car Wash, Sister Act 2, Menace To Society
- Kathryn Hahn
A perennial scene-stealer, Hahn may have first got people’s attention in long-running crime drama series Crossing Jordan, but it’s her incredible comedy chops that has seen her become one of those awesome supporting actresses that just makes everything they act in better. Even when its next to the likes of Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd or Nick Offerman. Also, she’s totally groped Jennifer Aniston’s boobs on camera.
Most memorable performances: Parks & Recreation, We’re the Millers, Step Brothers, Anchorman: Legend of Ron Burgundy, Crossing Jordan, Wanderlust
- Kurt Fuller
Your movie or TV show need some kind of smarmy, slimy exec who you just want to punch in the face with every weaselly moment he’s on-screen? Well, then don’t look any further than Kurt Fuller. The 6ft5″ character actor has been making a living out of playing people you love to hate for more than three decades now. Sure he occasionally also plays the good guy cop, but even then he’s never so good that you don’t want to introduce his face to the flat of your hand. And that’s what makes him great!
- Judy Greer
The very epitome of the “cute and funny” best friend in just about every rom-com you’ve ever seen, Judy Greer has been stealing scenes as a sidekick for most of her career. So it’s a bit of a pity that her two most high-profile leading roles are ones where you never saw her real face. Although she was hidden under layers of digital magic, Greer played the role of Cornelia, the tragically sick wife of simian leader Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. But that was more dramatic a role than what Greer normally shines in, and to see an example of that, look no further than her role as the voice of unhinged, sadomasochistic secretary Cheryl Tunt aka Carol in animated series Archer.
Most memorable performances: Archer, The Wedding Planner, 13 Going On 30, 27 Dresses, Love and Other Drugs, Jurassic World
- Al Leong
If you have ever watched a cheesy or low-budget action movie from the 80’s – and we all have – then you’ve undoubtedly been exposed to the work of actor and stuntman Al Leong. A prolific presence in action flicks from three decades ago, Leong’s signature long hair, Fu Manchu moustache and crazy monkey kung fu skills meant that he became the go-to guy for Hollywood directors whenever a mean looking Asian henchman was needed. He rarely ever said a word on-screen, with most of character credits including such names as “Asian-looking thug” and “Tai Chi Man”, but that hasn’t stopped him from gaining a cult following by fans of the action genre.
Most memorable performances: Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Big Trouble In Little China, Action Jackson, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Last Action Hero, Death Warrant, Escape From L.A., The Perfect Weapon
That was only Part 1 of 20 Actors You Love Whose Names You Don’t Know, so check back same time next week for 10 more!
Last Updated: September 10, 2015