Before every movie star decided that television was the place to be, Oscar-nominated Toni Collette jumped at the opportunity in 2009 to play a woman with dissociative personality disorder in a Showtime series called United States of Tara. The idea itself came from Steven Spielberg, and Diablo Cody — fresh off the success of Juno — wrote the series, while Jill Solloway — the current showrunner of Transparent — ran the series in seasons two and three.
It was a good series that faded later in its run, but it had a great cast, a cast that I had largely forgotten about until this week’s Better Call Saul. In the episode, Saul describes what the character calls a Hoboken Squat Cobbler, which is when someone — perhaps wearing a costume — bends down and squishes his or her tushy into a pie. I remember a similar fetishistic act from United States of Tara, which involved a cake instead of a pie, and it also involved a costumed Brie Larson, before Short Term 12 and before Room and before 21 Jump Street (but after her pop star career).
I looked it up just to confirm.
Confirmed. But while searching out the scene, I kept running across actors I recognized, but I hadn’t recognized at the time for anything other than United States of Tara. There were a lot of great actors in the series I knew prior to 2009 — Eddie Izzard, Patton Oswalt, and Lauren Joey Adams …
… but it was United States of Tara where, I believe, I first met the following actors and actresses, otherwise known as now famous (or recognizable) people I didn’t know were in a TV shows I enjoyed.
I did not forget that Rosemarie Dewitt was in the series, however, because that’s where my lifelong crush on Rosemarie Dewitt began. She played the sister and also the baby-mama of Patton Oswalt’s character.
That is a dangerous amount of sexy.
The brother in the series was Keir Gilchrist, who I remember from It’s Kind of a Funny Story, but completely forgot he was in last year’s terrific It Follows.
Before The Help and before How to Get Away with Murder, Viola Davis was a terrific character actress, who had a long arc on the series as the mentor of Brie Larson’s character, and a friend of Tara.
Okay, I admit I knew Nate Corddry from Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, but this was before his short stint on The Daily Show and even before he went by Nate (he was Nathan). He played the boss/stalker of Brie Larson’s character.
A pre-Girls’ Zosia Mamet, who played Gilchrist’s beard.
Pre-Fringe, pre-Bryce Dallas Howard Seth Gabel, folks.
Early-career Jessica St. Clair!
I have no idea who Michael Willett is, but he’s a regular on MTV’s Faking It, where he’s still playing a high-school student.
He also looks wildly different as a brunette.
It’s also worth noting that Dan Bakkedahl and Bellamy Young also had small roles in the series.