My Favorite Guest Actors

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, patricians and plebeians, animals, minerals, and vegetables, I proudly present to you the first Actual New Feature on Melted Brain – a rundown of some of my very favorite guest/character actors working the small screen these days, complete with the reasons why I enjoy them so very much.

Since the realization of this segment was inspired by Garret Dillahunt’s appearance on tonight’s Lie to Me, and since I’ve been talking him up all week without really saying anything, I think it would only be right to start with him:

Garret Dillahunt

He’s been on my radar for the past two or three years, but his career extends much further back than that. Focusing in on just his television credits, he’s played such diverse roles as a Terminator, a Russian crime lord, and Jesus. What makes Garret Dillahunt so fascinating to me is an actor is not just his talent, but the flexibility of his talent. He really occupies all of his various roles. And he has that mysterious and wonderful ability to completely alter his aspect. The physical changes are minimal, but he has a way to mold his whole presence to a role, appearing smarter or dumber, handsomer or plainer, guileless or crueler depending on what is required. My favorite role I’ve seen him in so far was his turn as Roman Novikov in Life.

Upcoming appearances: Tonight’s Lie to Me and episode five of White Collar.

Mark Sheppard

I love Mark Sheppard. I love every single thing he has done that I have seen. The roles are arguably not incredibly diverse. But they are all done phenomenally. He has a charisma and a way with words that seeps into every role he takes. And an excellent, excellent voice. He has appeared in just about every single one of my favorite shows, and been a highlight in those episodes. This man has slimy down pat – and also gruff, cynical, narcissistic, and crafty. I don’t know that I could choose my favorite of his roles, although I did really enjoy his time on Battlestar Galactica as Romo Lampkin. I’d say give this man his own show already, but I really enjoy having him in everything.

Upcoming appearances: Some episodes of White Collar, and a (supposedly) pivotal role on Supernatural.

Zeljko Ivanek

He’s been in everything. Seriously. He’s been completely fantastic – and he has an Emmy for his work on Damages to show for it. A lot of the time he plays a creepy Eastern European. Because, you know, that’s what you do as a fairly peculiar looking Slovenian actor. But, he’s also played several creepy Americans, a few professionals, and, in a few cases, somewhat pathetic Americans. It takes real talent to be both pathetic and creepy – even more for creepy. I’m most familiar with his Heroes role, Emile Danko, but I’m very intrigued by his work on Damages as Ray Fiske and intend to get my hands on some episodes as soon as possible.

John Pyper-Ferguson

I don’t know what it is about this guy, but I’ve been keeping my eye out for him constantly ever since I first saw him in an episode of The X-Files way back when (he actually had two different roles on that show, it turns out). He’s maybe not the strongest actor of all time, but he’s great in character parts, switching from hardass Viper jockey to blind astrophysicist to cult leader/prophet with astounding ease. More than any of his one roles, it’s just fascinating to see where and how he’ll turn up next.

Upcoming appearances: Looks like he’s gonna be in some movies…

Gina Torres

To be completely honest, I liked Gina Torres best in her starring role in Firefly. But, she’s also been a guest staple in so many other shows, I can’t complain much. A lot of the time she’s “the wife” – like she is in FlashForward, these days. But she’s also played a genuinely terrifying Cuban KGB officer in Alias and, my favorite of her roles, Jasmine, the goddess/pestilence from the fourth season of Angel. She is incredibly talented. And also very, very attractive. My gay friend and I agree, we may not swing that way most of the time, but we would definitely sleep with Gina Torres.

Upcoming appearances: Presumably some more episodes of FlashForward, tonight’s Gossip Girl, and she’s the voice of Superwoman in an upcoming animated movie.

Jude Ciccolella

As with Gina Torres, I prefer this actor in one of his recurring roles – Mike Novick of 24. However, since he ended his run on that show he’s shown himself to be a very diverse character actor. He left the loyal-but-uptight politician persona behind and has made appearances in all sorts of different roles on Prison Break, NCIS, Life, and Everybody Hates Chris. Many different roles, all performed with equal actorly dexterity.

Stephen Tobolowsky

A well-recognized face on both the big and small screen, Stephen Tobolowsky is kind of like the king of character actors. He’s played lawyers, doctors, greedy fathers, victims of short term memory loss, and, most recently, Sandy Ryerson, Glee‘s answer to “What do choir boys have nightmares about?” It’s astonishing to me that a man who looks so completely innocuous can go to the extreme edges of hilarity, humanity, and terror with brilliance and ease – and then come back and do the whole thing over again.

Upcoming appearances: Sandy is gone from Glee, for better or for worse, and it looks like he’s putting his focus back on movies for awhile.

These are all actors I am always excited to see in anything. Because I fully trust that they will deliver and that I will thoroughly enjoy the end result. I think the only thing I have left to address is, Why are there not more women on this list? The answer is…I can’t really say. I’m not sure. I just don’t notice actresses as much, maybe. Or, when I do, they’re in recurring roles. This is perhaps something I should work on in the future.

PS – The pictures are links to their imdb profiles. I’m crafty like that.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • katie.c  On October 21, 2009 at 5:32 PM

    you make my life. also, i’ve shilled for you on my latest livejournal post. and just know this: i was writing it and got distracted when i came here to get your url. blah.


  • By Caprica: First Glance « Melted Brain on January 4, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    […] Also part of the cast: John Pyper-Ferguson. Anyone familiar with my Favorite Guest Actors list will understand my excitement about […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: