This post was born on a Friday night when I declared a certain actor to be my favorite B-list actor currently working. A lot goes into this sort of decision. It’s not just a matter of judging on-screen performance. No, finding a favorite B-lister is more a matter of unquantifiable taste: an affinity for the bad movies he or she has appeared in, a formative childhood role, a body of credits that reads more like a list of punchlines, all of that je ne sais quoi. I made my choice for all those good reasons and cited his works. I was devastated, then, to be corrected – my actor had not appeared in most of the movies I had named. Impossible. Couldn’t be. But, of course, a brief flash of an iPhone prove it could be. It was. Half of the films in which I had identified this man had not featured him at all. It had been someone else, somehow. A fake, an impostor. I had confused my man with someone else, combining their collected screen appearances into what I thought was the greatest CV ever compiled by a second-tier actor. I was wrong. So wrong that I am determined now to make sure you never have to suffer the same embarrassment and heartbreak that I have suffered.
(PS – I still love you Elias Koteas. Nothing can change that)
Pullman – Paxton These two are the reigning champions of confusion. Their resemblance is slight, but they share a name and an initial. What’s more, they both qualify as “B+” actors, appearing in the same types of films – either staring in flops (Pullman in The Serpent and the Rainbow, Paxton in One False Move) or as supporting actors behind A-list heavyhitters in Hollywood blockbusters. Indeed, it is as supporting actors that they’ve both made their name, with combined credits that include Newsies, A League of Their Own (Pullman), Aliens, Commando, and Weird Science (Paxton).
Any Connection? Both have had supporting roles in films about Wyatt Earp (Paxton as Morgan Earp in Tombstone and Pullman as Ed Masterson in Wyatt Earp). Best Roles: Paxton: Severen, 1987’s Near Dark. Pullman: Lone Star, Spaceballs also 1987.
Christopher Meloni – Elias Koteas The confusion that started it all. I have spent the past several years of my life completely unaware of the existence of Christopher Meloni. I honestly thought Elias Koteas was just really prolific. But, no. As it turns out the guy from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Koteas) is not the guy from Oz (Meloni). Who knew? It turns out that everything I thought made Elias Koteas great were actually apperances by Christopher Meloni. It’s sad, really. If you combined their careers, you would have the world’s greatest B-list actor. Taken separately their credits don’t seem as impressive, but together in my mind they were more than the sum of their parts. Imagine, the guy who played Casey Jones had sex with James Spader in Crash, AND Lee Tergessen in Oz was in The Thin Red Line and then starred in one of the Law and Orders. Woulda been great.
Any Connection: Only in my dreams. Best Roles: Meloni: Gene the cook in Wet Hot American Summer*. Koteas: for the sake of my crumbling childhood memories, Casey Jones.
Jeff Bridges – Jeff Daniels Another common couple. Same first name, and they both look fairly similar: fat faced, waddled necked middle aged white men. Daniels seemed to peek in the early 1990s, beginning with his starring role in Arachnophobia (1990), Gettysburg in 1993, and culminating in Dumb & Dumber (1994). Not much of note before hand, other than The Purple Rose of Cairo, and solid spots since, like The Squid and the Whale and Good Night, and Good Luck, were all undone by his role in Mama’s Boy in 2007. Jeff Bridges, on the other hand, has enjoyed a long successful career (Tron, Big Lebowski) and, after a solid performance as the villain Obadiah Stane in Iron Man, he’s probably A-list stuff. Doesn’t hurt to get your start on your dad’s TV show though, I suppose.
Any Connection: Daniels starred in Dumb & Dumber with Jim Carrey, whose character was named Lloyd Christmas. Jeff Bridges father was also named Lloyd. (don’t like it, start your own blog). Best Roles: Daniels: Bernard Berkman in The Squid and the Whale (2005). Bridges: duh. Jeffrey Lebowski, The Big Lebowski (1998).
Wilson – Fuzzy Dunlop These days, claiming to be unable to tell these two apart is likely to lead to accusations of “they-all-look-the-same-to-me” bigotry, but prior to Wilson’s breakout supporting role in Cast Away (2000), the two were little more than indistinguishable character actors. But, the 2000s were a big decade for Hollywood balls, and Fuzzy Dunlop’s hilarious and historical cameo in HBO’s television series The Wire meant they are now both household names.
Any Connection: Both reportedly attached to green-lighted silver screen version of Your Local Sports Authority Outlet. Best Roles: Wilson: “Volleyball” in Top Gun. Fuzzy Dunlop: Itself in The Wire.
*Gene: Now finish up them taters; I’m gonna go fondle my sweaters.
Gary: Come on – what?
Gene: Finish up the taters.
Gary: And then what did you say?
Gene: And then what did I say?
Gary: You said you were going to… fondle your sweaters.
Gene: Ah, uh – no I didn’t. I said… fondue the cheddar… I was thinking about making fondue with cheddar cheese for dinner tonight.