There Is a Staggering 37.4 Percent Chance That This Actor Was in Your Favorite Movie or Television Show
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There Is a Staggering 37.4 Percent Chance That This Actor Was in Your Favorite Movie or Television Show

By Dustin Rowles | Seriously Random Lists | June 27, 2013 | Comments ()


There are a multitude of great character actors, but I don't think any of those great character actors -- with the exception of maybe J.K. Simmons or Stephen Root -- have been in as many great television shows and movies as Gary Cole, who I doubt has ever turned down a job in his life. To his credit, however, Gary Cole never fails to impress, and the man can play damn near any role you can ask of him: Comedic, dramatic, or animated. He is just flat-out phenomenal, but in such an understated way that, with the exception of his scene-stealing in Office Space, you never really think, "Oh yeah! Gary Cole was in that."

The reality is, however, that chances are: Gary Cole was in that.

Here are just a fraction of the roles that Gary Cole has taken over the years, nearly each of which triggered my same response, "Oh, yeah! I totally remember him in that."

A Simple Plan


The Practice






Pineapple Express


True Blood


Curb Your Enthusiasm


Bob's Burgers


The West Wing






Miami Vice


King of the Hill


Arrested Development


Midnight Caller


Talladega Nights



Babylon 5




Brady Bunch: The Movie




American Gothic


The Good Wife




30 Rock


Office Space




,b>An Officer and a Murderer


Hart of Dixie


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • A. Smith

    I didn't know of him until the Brady Bunch Movie but became a fan after Wanted. Shame that show didn't get a second season it was really good and had an awesome cast to boot.

  • SMR

    Nice to see him recognized, slowly became more aware of him in recent years - as in "that guy, he's awesome in everything!". I only recently watched American Gothic, in which he proved he is so, so underused as a journeyman character actor. He deserves his own show, unquestionably. Although I love him on the Good Wife.

  • Stickbender

    There's a great site, from which most of these photos are taken, at It's a bit out of date, but is really thorough up to the point where it stopped being updated.

  • Ron Wells

    It was actually Babylon 5: Crusade, the follow-up series that he starred in. You left off probably the most disturbing entry on his resume, the WB remake of Family Affair, co-starring Tim Curry as Mr. French. With those two, anyone who actually watched that train wreck was probably just waiting for something truly terrible to happen to those kids.

  • apsutter

    JK Simmons is fantastic and I wish he were in everything! Also he and and Allison Janney need to do another movie(or 50 ) together.

    Oh, and Gary and Jason Bateman in dodgeball make me laugh my ass off everytime. "You usually have to pay double for that kind of action, Cotton!"

  • Kobie

    "I'm being told that Average Joe's does not have enough players and will be forfeiting the championship match"
    "It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for 'em."

  • Zuffle

    I first saw Gary Cole in Fatal Vision with Karl Malden. I was about six. It was both a 'true story' and a kinda pastiche of the Manson killings, and it has stayed with me for the ensuing thirty years. And he was phenomenal in it. If you've never seen it, I don't know if it's available anywhere, but I'd totally recommend seeking it out.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I've always thought he was very attractive, you can bet I notice every time he's on screen.

  • Scott Crawford

    Has anyone seen Gary Cole and William Fichtner in the same place at the same time. The almost play the same character roles. They seem to play the same interchangeable characters.

  • TheOriginalMRod

    Where's that TPS report?

  • zeke_the_pig

    Gary Cole - the birdsong of film: you don't notice it when he's there but every scene is made better when he's humming along in the background.

    Which is exactly the opposite of Leo - the bulbous-headed pimple of film: taking up all the attention right in the middle of the face; not quite sure whether it would be better if it was popped or not.

  • Strand

    Please let that last one be a father-daughter hug.

  • CosmoNewanda

    Can we get a list like this for Mark Sheppard? Including some hot and sexy gifs.

  • Uriah_Creep

    Dustin, I'm sure several of us would like to see your calculations in support of the claim in the header. Thank you in advance.

  • Blackotter

    It's cause I always confuse him with Gary Coleman.................

  • Skyler Durden

    I was about to chew you out for leaving out the great job he did in Smallville, but then I realized that that Gary Cole =/= John Glover.

    /I have nothing of value to say here.

  • Jerce

    (They'll forget American Gothic; everyone always forgets that great show...)
    (Holy shit, they remembered!)
    Also: Talladega Nights has absolutely NO RIGHT to be as funny as it undeniably is, and Mr. Cole is just fucking hysterical in it.

  • apsutter

    I feel the same way about Dodgeball. TN is one of my guilty pleasures because its just so fucking ridiculous but it makes me laugh so damn hard. I actually saw it in theaters when it was released and not only was it totally sold out but it was some of the loudest laughter I've heard and I go to the movies often.

  • Kobie

    He was Kate Bosworth's dad in the execrable "Win A Date With Tad Hamilton."

  • DM75

    The Gift. Crappy movie but he was in that too.

  • the dude

    He's one of those actors whose name is impossible to remember.

  • with_club_sauce

    American Gothic is the bomb dot com

  • emmelemm

    I ADORE Gary Cole.

  • Conor

    No Harvey Birdman?


  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    I'd also add he is incredibly accessible. Several years ago we had a big "Office Space" event at a local art theatre. We had major door prizes, red Swinglines, people wearing "flare" vests, you name it. Gary Cole graciously agreed to be the grand prize, recording someone's voicemail answer as Lumberg.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I love him even more now. *sigh*

  • annie

    Ironically, he was not in That Guy... Who Was in That Thing."

  • ZizoAH

    Desperate Housewives, hello?

  • Teresa

    Good Guys as Dan Stark's old partner...that was a show that ended too soon

  • AnnaKendrick'sLoveMuffin

    Yeah Rowles. How the Heh-ell could you forget 'The Good Guys'?

    Dan and Frank saved the Governor's son!!!

    They made a Tee-Vee Movie about it!!!!

    They don't make TV movies 'bout just anyone. They make them about...Heroes! Yeah, I said it. He-Roes.

  • luthien26

    MIDNIGHT CALLER 4 EVA. Seriously, I loved that show. Very atmospheric, and Gary Cole, as he is in all things, was amazing.

  • SHG

    Harvey Birdman!!!!!!!

  • Mrs. Julien

    Is An Officer and a Murderer based on that fu*kface @sshole Canadian Russell Whatever guy who stole all those women's underthings and killed two people, may he rot in hell? Also, if it is a Lifetime movie, doesn't TK have certain obligations? And if those obligations seem inappropriate to exercise with a movie about this topic, can we not find him something else on Lifetime to review in its stead, such as the Anna Nicole Smith biopic?

  • Slim

    While I indulged in my Hart of Dixie guilty-pleasure marathon (a Pajiba suggestion, I might add), my husband mocked and found other things to do. Until Gary Cole showed up.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I did not recognize him in Veep, and he is awesome than that. I guess this guy gets around even more than John Glover, whom he resembles (in a middle-aged white business-guy kinda way).

  • $32857398

    I was actually waiting for Veep to show up here to really confirm it was him. I find Kent to be a *very* attractive conniving robot, but wasn't seeing that in the other pictures. More proof that men should grow their beards.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Except for the hair of course. Glover's got a mane like no other man.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    It is indeed a superb mane. He must not be a regular on anything at the moment or he would've been included in the hair list.

    Btw, Glover's a damn fine stage actor, too.

  • jthomas666

    You left out **Chuck**? Good God, man, how can we ever take you seriously again?

    He was Sarah's dad,

  • lowercase_ryan

    He did say FRACTION of the roles he's taken.

  • jthomas666

    Yes, but in leaving out Chuck, he missed an opportunity to post a pic of Yvonne Strahovski. Some things are just unforgivable. ;)

  • alwaysanswerb

    I don't know how I never picked up that Reese Bobby and Bill Lumbergh were the same guy.

    I feel like I should have known. It's like I've betrayed two characters I love very deeply. It's like I betrayed myself.

  • Jill

    If it helps he WAS incredibly thin in TN.

  • freetickles

    Needs a key at the end to tell us what all the shows and movies are. Although I'm sure I've seen most I'm only recognizing a few based on the pictures.

  • Rev.Brandy

    I love this. I adore Gary Cole. And, you really should update the post with the grand-daddy of all of Gary Cole's amazing performances - "FATAL VISION!"

  • luthien26

    Good Lord, I remember that! First time I ever remember seeing him - I was a kid and he scared the crap out of me, too!

  • kirbyjay

    I just scrolled down to see if anyone mentioned Fatal Vision...and you it saved me the trouble, thank you very much.
    He was also in a tv movie playing a teacher/football coach who was messing around with a student ( Nicole Thom) and he was positively smarmy.

  • Jill

    Holy crap, I remember that movie! It was right around the time of American Gothic and he, for a brief moment, seemed to corner the market on creepy guys.

  • Miss Kate

    YES YES YES. I saw Fatal Vision as a kid and he frightened me for years after that.

  • KV

    You forgot "In the Line of Fire".

  • TCH

    No Harvey Birdman?

  • Andrew

    He wasn't in Babylon 5. He was in Crusade, its spin-off.

  • Emmet O'Cuana

    I wondered if someone would point that out.

  • pinkerton80

    Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law!

  • TCH

    "Birdman get in here!!"

  • Conor

    It's comforting to know at least a few other people respect the classics.

    Back off!

  • FrayedMachine

    I am. Disturbed at how many things I love that he's been in and not noticed. at all.

  • dinosaurpuke

    Um helloooo Pineapple Express.

  • Fredo

    and he was the villain in that!

  • John W

    American Gothic: "Someone's at the door."

  • John W

    Wanna feel old? Look at the young child actor. That's Lucas Black. He was recently in 42 playing Pee Wee Reese.

  • Jill

    He had an obscene amount of charisma on that show. Considering who his character was, he was still pretty attractive.

    AG was the first time I saw Gary Cole. Much like seeing Simmons for the first time on Oz, it's always slightly sinister to me now when I see either of them in what has become their increasingly comedy-based role choices.

    But they're both fabulous.

  • That's Buck with a "B"

  • BWeaves

    The problem with Gary Cole is, even if I KNOW he's in something I'm watching, I still don't know which guy he is. I cannot recognize his face or voice for anything.

  • apsutter

    Are you sure you don't have face blindness?

  • Mentalcase

    A la Marky Bark!

  • apsutter


  • Dave Dorris

    That's kind of bizarre. I'd recognize him in Klingon makeup.

  • emmalita

    I was just going to post that I always say"Gary Cole" ala "Steve Holt" when I see GaryCole. I loved him so much in Office Space.

  • Batesian

    This is a thing I will also now do.


  • Green Lantern


  • Zen

    Ah, the sign of the great character actor.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Is it though? Shouldn't it be "Oh! Gary Cole! I love that guy. He's always good."

  • BWeaves

    Yes, this!

    It's not like he's created a character so unrecognizable that you can't tell it's him. Even when the character looks like Gary Cole, I don't know it's him.

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