Anyway. The people I'm talking about are those who seem to take up the more minor roles in films, and as a result seem to be able to do a lot more of them, and haunt your entire viewing experience for a little while. When Pete Postlethwaite died a few weeks ago, my Dad described him as being one of those people you see in lots of things, but when asked what he's been in you're at a bit of a loss. The same is true of all of the following people, who are continually popping up in all the things I like to watch, often actually, with another of the people I always see. It's a little bit disturbing, but mostly I have come to love and appreciate these actors for the crucial roles that they play, which are often as important as those of Johnny Depp! Believe it or not...
1. John C Reilly
John C Reilly literally is in everything. I don't think I even know the depths of the things that he's in, considering that Never Been Kissed was on the other night and he was even in that! I have learned to love his weirdly squishy face in films including What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, The Good Girl, Chicago and The Hours, although he does seemed to be cursed with 'best friend-itis'- I'm not sure he's ever allowed to be the male lead.
I was going to put a picture of John looking all sad because he's never the lead, but I couldn't find one. So here he is being all smiley instead! Good for him!
2. Christine Baranski
I first remember seeing her in Cybill, which I watched every day for the entirety of one summer with my cousins and sister for some strange reason! After this, she seemed to go away somewhere, until she started creeping her way back in to films that I was likely to see. Cruel Intentions, Chicago, Frasier, Ugly Betty... It got so I had to learn her name so I wouldn't have to call her the 'evil mum from Cruel Intentions with the funny face' anymore...
My exposure to Baranski could be even greater if I could ever bring myself to watch Mamma Mia, but I just CAN'T DO IT, despite Meryl Streep and being told how much fun it is all the time... which is maybe part of the problem too!
Ooh... wasn't she EVIL in Cruel Intentions?!
3. Allison Janney
I technically shouldn't include her in my list because she is forever and always C J Cregg, and was the undisputed real star of The West Wing. But, she has to be here for the sheer volume of things that she's been in that I have seen, and the number of times I have been surprised by her presence, a feeling which predates my obsession with The West Wing for quite a few years. You might think I'm exaggerating, but she appears in *deep breath* 10 Things I hate about you, Drop Dead Gorgeous, American Beauty, The Hours, Hairspray, Juno, Weeds, Frasier AND her voice is in both Finding Nemo and Over the Hedge. I have watched and loved all of these, and I love this woman more than is (probably) healthy. Coincidence? I think NOT!
4. J K Simmons
Not only is he Allison Janney's husband in Juno, J K Simmons also appears in the three Spiderman films, Burn After Reading, Up in the Air, Jennifer's Body and Thank You For Smoking. On the basis of this filmography, I have to conclude that he is to Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody (both together and separately) what Johnny Depp is to Tim Burton. Their Bitch.
5. Anna Deavere Smith
I may be exaggerating slightly the frequency with which I see this woman, but, with her recurring roles in The West Wing and Nurse Jackie, plus appearances in Rachel Getting Married (subject of my next review!), and Philadelphia, I've seen her quite a lot more often than her mere 23 characters would suggest I would. She can play hilarious (Nurse Jackie) and scarily intelligent (The West Wing), as well as being able to portray more down to earth characters in the films I've seen her in. The screen's (relative) loss is the theatre's gain in her case.
Oh, Nancy. Fix all the world's problems for us, won't you?
6. Mary Steenburgen
This woman is affectionately known to me as 'the mum from Joan of Arcadia', even though I have watched said programme once, for about 10 minutes. I have, however, seen her in a LOT of other things, including Philadelphia with Anna Deavere Smith, and What's Eating Gilbert Grape? with John C Reilly. Other notable appearances come in Elf, Back to the Future III, Four Christmases (NOT a recommended movie!) and oh my goodness I can't even continue this because I just found out that there was an animated Back to the Future TV series! (She was in that too) Does everyone else know about this and I'm just really far behind? Or does nobody talk about it because it was so awful?! I need to know this!
I wish Laura had already known about that damn animated series so she could have talked about me more!
7. Jane Lynch
I was pretty much unaware of Jane Lynch until she became the greatest thing about Glee, but since then I've been aware of her presence everywhere. She has been in a lot of amazing tv shows, including Frasier, Desperate Housewives, Friends, Weeds, My Name is Earl and Popular (which, I can't be sure, but I think I may have been it's sole viewer); as well as appearing in The 40 Year Old Virgin and Julie and Julia. The world may be trying to tell me something by her appearing everywhere, but I'm not sure what that thing is... other than that Jane Lynch is awesome!
Far more smiley than Sylvester...
8. Rosemarie Dewitt
This lovely lady hasn't been in all that many things either, but I have somehow managed to see her a lot, in Mad Men, Rachel Getting Married, Sex and the City and United States of Tara. Having seen her in US of Tara and Rachel getting married, I did sense a little of the under-appreciated sibling to her performance (mainly because she is the 'normal' and therefore less worrisome sibling in both cases), but her role in Mad Men really defies that as she proves herself way too cool for Don Draper. Speaking of US of Tara, Toni Collette very nearly made this list, but for the fact that I never recognise her- it took me an obscenely long time to connect her characters in Little Miss Sunshine, About A Boy and The Hours as being the same person! An extraordinary actress. Aaaaand, I just managed to do to Rosemarie Dewitt what casting agents do to her all the time... whoops!
I don't care that she just gushed about Toni Colette, cause I'm married to Berger, bitches.
I think what I love most about these unexpected encounters in films with familiar faces is that the phenomenon is going to be different for everybody- there are just going to be some actors you see more, because of the kinds of films that you like to watch. Who haunts you whenever you turn on the TV/ go to the cinema?