Actor: Marshall Bell
You Know Him From: Everything from Total Recall to Starship Troopers to Rescue Dawn
No matter how many years and roles pass, I always picture Bell with Kuato sticking out of his chest in Total Recall. He’s a veteran of more than 100 productions, often as a military man. He was sliced up in Nightmare on Elm Street 2, smeared by a hopper bug in Starship Troopers, and whacked by a robot in Virus. What’s not to like?
Actor: Timothy Spall
You Know Him From: Harry Potter series, Sweeney Todd, Enchanted, Vanilla Sky
Thanks to recent high-profile films, Spall isn’t quite the unknown he used to be. Regardless of his fame, however, his characters remain as deliciously smarmy and grimy as ever. A veteran of nearly one hundred film and television roles, Timothy has a face you can never forget, and a name you may never remember.
Name: CCH Pounder
You Know Her From: Everything! 110 film and television roles, from All That Jazz to a voice in Avatar.
Including CCH Pounder in a list of unknowns is questionable, especially considering her memorable name, and involvement in so many films and television series. Perhaps if I called her Carol Christine Hilaria Pounder she wouldn’t ring a bell? Better known for her television chops, Pounder’s film roles are usually in B-level productions.
Actor: Will Patton
You Know Him From: The Puppet Masters, The Postman, Armageddon, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Remember the Titans
If you need a strong right-hand man with an intense, slightly-crazed glare, Patton’s your choice. He’s also a popular choice for cop or sheriff roles. From the bleached-blond criminal in Desperately Seeking Susan to Denzel Washington’s defensive coordinator in Remember the Titans, Will is easy to remember- but not his name!
Actress: Frances Sternhagen
You Know Her From: Outland, Doc Hollywood, The Mist, ER, The Closer
The loveably gruff Sternhagen is a veteran of film, television and stage, appearing simultaneously on all three. From the doctor in Outland, to Millicent Carter on ER, her face and spitfire attitude are instantly recognizable.
Name: Chris Cooper
You Know Him From: The Patriot, Seabiscuit, Jarhead, the Bourne movies
Most recently known for military roles, Chris Cooper’s no-nonsense, believable acting style lends weight and realism to every role he takes. For an oft-overlooked example, check out his work as modern Texas border town sheriff Sam Deeds in the stellar 1996 film Lone Star. You won’t regret it.
Name: Stephen Tobolowsky
You Know Him From: Over 200 films and television shows, including Spaceballs, Basic Instinct, Groundhog Day, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Glee.
Stephen Tobolowsky has been playing the nerdy everyman since 1976. Recently known for television roles in Glee and Heroes, Stephen is a classic example of someone you instantly place, but can’t remember the name of.
Actor: Al Leong
You Know Him From: Countless action films
You may not know the name, but you’re bound to recognize the face. Beginning in the early 1980s, Al has died on film in many interesting ways as an action extra. From Lethal Weapon to Die Hard to The Scorpion King, spotting Al is never difficult- his look has remained distinctive. He’s the Where’s Waldo of action movies!