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The 'That Guy' Encyclopedia, Letters L Through Z

May 29th, 2008 10:45am EDT
Danny TrejoThroughout cinematic history, there has been a plethora of actors that, for some reason or another, never become a household name. So here is a cheat sheet of sorts, a brief encyclopedia on "That Guy." Part Two: Letters L-Z. If you missed the first installment, you can check it out here.

Stubborn General or Muslim, Harry Lennix
Lennix played Lock, the unbelieving general in Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions. He appeared in short bursts in TV shows such as Diagnosis Murder and ER before a longer stay on Commander in Chief. He played a Moor in Titus and a Muslim in 24. He is currently set to appear in Joss Whedon’s new series, "Dollhouse."


Harry Lennix


The Long-Haired Kung-Fu Master, AKA Al Leong
Al Leong has been in dozens of action movies as the Fu Manchu-sporting henchmen with a penchant for martial arts. He has appeared in Big Trouble in Little China, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, Last Action Hero, Beverly Hills Cop III, and The Replacement Killers, among others. One of his non-action roles was a turn as Genghis Khan in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.




Drew Carey’s Cross-Dressing Brother, AKA John Carroll Lynch
After a memorable performance in Fargo, melting in Volcano, and an eerie appearance in Zodiac, Lynch is still best known for his long-time character Norm from the Drew Carey Show. The Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of The Catholic University of America recently had a recurring role in K-Ville, but it was canceled.


K-Ville


Watchman’s Favorite, AKA Marc Macaulay
After the first section of the “That Guy Encyclopedia,” a user by the name of Watchman assured me that Marc Macaulay was “That Guy for an entire generation of movie and television viewers.” While many haven’t heard of him, nor recall his face, he certainly has had a lengthy career. Plus, researching him has clued us in on the existence of The Burt Reynolds Institute for Theatre Training, a piece of information we will take to the grave. We were hesitant to include him on the list, but Starpulse.com’s bio begins with “Marc Macaulay is an actor who's just got one of those faces -- you know you've seen it somewhere before but you just can't seem to put your finger on it,” so that iced it.


http://www.marcmacaulay.com/video.html



Wise-Ass For 20 Years, John C. McGinley
McGinley has made you laugh for two decades, yet you may not know his name unless you watch Scrubs. He has appeared in Platoon, Wall Street, Talk Radio, and Office Space – each appearance hammering home his skill at playing the wise-cracking cynic. Film fanatics certainly know his name after appearing in such critical darlings as well as a lengthy role in Scrubs. An appearance in Wild Hogs may have helped – but he more or less remains a “That Guy.”


John C. McGinley


Balding Funny Guy, AKA Larry Miller
Most know Miller’s face from Pretty Woman, The Nutty Professor and its sequel - but comedy fans recall his appearances on Seinfeld (he actually auditioned for the role of George Costanza) and several mockumentaries by Christopher Guest. His similar roles and lack of hair have led to in-jokes, including an episode in Mystery Science Theater 3000 wherein every bald character is referenced as “Miller!”


Larry Miller


Stereotypical Italian, Duped Cop in The Usual Suspects, AKA Chazz Palminteri
Palminteri wrote one of the best Mafia movies ever, A Bronx Tale. Still, his recurring roles as an Italian mobster keep him in the dark when it comes to name recognition. He had a fantastic role in The Usual Suspects as the head investigating police officer and an amusing role in several Vanilla Coke commercials.


Chazz Palminteri


T-1000, AKA Robert Patrick
A lead role in X-Files. Johnny Cash’s father in Walk the Line. Cop Land, The Marine, Flags of Our Fathers, Bridge to Terabithia, and Balls of Fury. These are a handful of roles that, no matter how popular, can’t erase that fact that Robert Patrick will always be T-1000 from Terminator 2.




Southern Uncle Figure, AKA Will Patton
Perhaps if Will Patton was nominated for best supporting actor in something other than The Postman (seriously, go back and read that once more), Will Patton would be widely known. Patton’s memorable films include Remember the Titans and Gone in 60 Seconds.


Patton in Remember the Titans


Bible Quoting Sniper, AKA Barry Pepper
Pepper played memorable character Daniel Jackson in Saving Private Ryan, a role that undercut many characters that were supposed to be more important to the plot. After a role in The Green Mile, he made the very bad decision to star in Battlefield Earth. He has since begun to recover, showing up in We Were Soldiers, 61*, and 3.


Barry Pepper


Bald Italian with a moustache, AKA Jon Polito
This rotund actor has appeared in Seinfeld and was also an installation in a few early Coen brothers films like Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, and The Big Lebowski. Despite several roles as a mobster, he shines in comedic appearances.


WARNING: Adult Language




The Guy With The Steven Spielburg Glasses, AKA Ron Rifkin
If you know theater, you know Rifkin. He has won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Cabaret. However, if you are a television and movie fan, then you probably recall his face from Alias and Brothers & Sisters.


Ron Rifkin


Serial Killer or Other Evil Sort, AKA Michael Rooker
Rooker has the look of a serial killer. It doesn’t help that his debut role was a critically-acclaimed appearance as the title character in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. He has also notably appeared in Tombstone, Mallrats, and Slither.


Michael Rooker


Jimmy James and Milton, AKA Stephen Root
Many know Stephen Root as Milton, the stapler-seeking cubicle jockey that keeps getting walked on until he finally snaps and burns down an office building in Office Space. But those who watched the fantastic TV series NewsRadio know him as Jimmy James. He also voices Bill on King of the Hill, was nominated for an Emmy for his role in West Wing, and has appeared in several Coen brothers films.


Stephen Root as Milton in Office Space


Crazy inmate and J. Jonah Jameson, AKA J.K. Simmons
Simmons is mostly known for his role as Vernon Schillinger, a sadistic inmate in Oz, and J. Jonah Jameson, the fast-talking editor of the Daily Bugle in the Spider-Man movies. He currently is featured in The Closer and played the father of the titular character in Juno. He has developed a working relationship with Jason Retiman - having also appeared in Thank You for Smoking – and will appear in the director’s next film, Jennifer’s Body.


J.K. Simmons


Uh..., AKA Joey Slotnick
Slotnick is an odd “That Guy.” He hasn’t appeared in many films or television shows (other than brief guest appearances). Still, he’s just one of those faces (and hairstyle) that you remember. His most notable role is most likely his portrayal of Steve Wozniak in Pirates of Silicon Valley.


Joey Slotnick


Red, AKA Kurtwood Smith
Before Smith was the loveable hard-ass Red on That 70's Show, he had carved out a niche for playing truly evil men. He was one of the main villains in Robocop and played a judgmental father that drove his son to suicide in Dead Poet’s Society. He is set to have a role in the upcoming season of 24.


Kurtwood Smith


Perry White, Evil Hockey Coach, AKA Lane Smith
Lane Smith has been in dozens of films and television shows and is most-known for his role of Perry White in Lois and Clark and as the opposing attorney in My Cousin Vinny. He also played the “evil” coach in the first Mighty Ducks.


Lane Smith


Creepy European, AKA Peter Stormare
One look at Stormare would have you guessing that he is a shoe-in for roles in techno-thrillers written by Tom Clancy. However, Peter has made his way in Hollywood in comedies. After Fargo and The Big Lebowski, he had a comedic-relief role as the sadistic surgeon in Minority Report. Most recently he appeared in Prison Break.


Peter Stromare


Buff Mexican, AKA Danny Trejo
Trejo is the reason you write a collection of “That Guys.” He has appeared in so many movies that it has become an in-joke whenever he makes a cameo. With his trademark moustache and ponytail, Trejo can be seen in about five or six movies a year. He is mostly-known for his collaborations with his cousin, Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, Spy Kids).


Danny Trejo


Long Duk Dong, AKA Gedde Watanabe
Watanabe’s character from Sixteen Candles made him a huge hit in the mid-80s. Still, he could not parlay that into Hollywood success - instead settling for various cameo roles and voice acting gigs. However, Watanabe later managed to land a recurring role on ER for 58 episodes over 7 seasons.


Gedde Watanabe in Sixteen Candles


Older Man With Pretensions Of Societal Grandeur, AKA Tom Wilkinson
Cinephiles know Wilkinson very well as he has been nominated for several Oscar, BAFTA, and Golden Globe awards. Still, something keeps Tom out of the limelight – perhaps it is because his characters are similar: almost every one of them suffers from emotional repression. He most recently appeared in Michael Clayton and has a role in the upcoming film Valkyrie.


Tom Wilkinson


Arli$$, AKA Robert Wuhl
Wuhl’s masterful work is usually hidden in the credits. He worked on cult comedy show Police Squad and wrote zingers for Billy Crystal to use during the Oscars. Robert has appeared on screen in Batman as a notable reporter, the DJ before Robin Williams in Good Morning, Vietnam, and as Al Stump in the movie Cobb. But his 80-episode stint on Arli$$ as the titular character and a role in Bull Durham as the chattering coach are the reasons we recognize his face.


Robert Wuhl


Graduations

There are a few notable departures from the realm of "That Guy." A graduation, if you will, to the heights of people actually remembering your name - for better or for worse. Thus, I'm going to end each digest of "That Guy" entries with one that has notably left the list.

Graduate From the "That Guy List": Rainn Wilson
Rainn has a penchant for playing socially-odd characters. He started his career with bit parts in Galaxy Quest, Sahara, Baadasssss, Full Frontal, America's Sweethearts, House of 1,000 corpses, Almost Famous, and even several appearances on daytime soap One Life to Live. HBO viewers knew him as Arthur in Six Feet Under, which began his career as the oddball and “That guy.” The Office, however, brought him national fame. Wilson was so in-tune with his sociopathic (but ultimately harmless) character Dwight Schrute that he wrote an in-character blog for NBC’s website. As the series exploded with popularity, so did Wilson’s career. He hosted SNL and appeared in My Super Ex-Girlfriend, The Last Mimzy, and Juno. The Rocker will be his first lead role, followed by a voice acting gig for Monsters vs. Aliens.


Rainn Wilson



- The 'That Guy' Encyclopedia, Letters A Through K
- Top TV Hangouts
- Three Best & Worst TV Shows Turned Into Big-Screen Films

Have a "That Guy" I didn't mention? Make your case in the comments and I may add them to the next article!

Casey Johnson
Story by Casey Johnson

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