We’ve all been there. You’re sitting on the couch, snacks in hand, watching a movie or a television show with friends or family. An actor in the role of a secondary character comes into the picture and someone in the room begins exclaiming, “Oooooh! Oooooh! I know her! I know her! She’s in that movie with that one guy…the one that looks sort of like Robert Downey Jr.! Oooooh, what is it! Help me out! I know you guys know her! She’s in everything!”
You all know your friend is right. You’ve all seen that face in more shows and movies than any leading actor that any of you could name. The thing is, not one of you can figure out that person’s name. Furthermore, if you heard the name without seeing the face, you wouldn’t be able to name a single show or movie that performer has been in. If this describes you (and yes, it describes everyone) you can now rest easy since we’ve decided to give you a run-down of some of these actors and actresses whose names seem to elude us.
14. Beth Grant – Estimated Net Worth: $1 Million
You couldn’t say her name but you’ve seen her in just about everything. Beth Grant is estimated as being worth about $1 million but it’s suspected that this has gone up considerably since she gained her reoccurring gig on Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project as disgruntled nurse Beverly. She also has six films already slated to come out in 2015 alone and we’ve barley made it into the year.
You generally see her in the roles of over-protective or uptight, conservative mothers. She’s also known to play religious zealots or a higher than thou member of a neighborhood committee that the fun-loving protagonist of a film or show has to go up against. She’s played this role in a number of sit-coms and most notably in the film Donnie Darko.
13. Mike Starr – Estimated Net Worth: $1.5 Million
Do you need a guy to play a hitman or a mob enforcer? You do? Okay, then hire someone! What’s that? You did already? Who is it? Mike Starr? Obviously.
You know you’ve seen him in countless television shows and movies playing some character that is affiliated with the mafia in some way or another. His most notable turn at the role type was in the film Goodfellas but you probably remember him playing similar characters in films like Dumb and Dumber and shows like Joan of Arcadia. Starr has even portrayed a character that played humorously towards the fact that he looks like a member of the mob. In an episode of The Office, Starr played an insurance salesman with the last name “Grotti” that office manager Michael Scott believed to be a member of the mafia.
Oddly enough, not only does Starr play a lot of characters in this type of roll, but he also plays a lot of police officers and detectives.
12. Stephen Tobolowsky – Estimated Net Worth: $1.5 Million
If you watch TV, you have seen Stephen Tobolowsky. He isn’t type-cast as often as the first two members of our list, but he certainly makes his rounds in the world of television. Tobolowsky has done just about everything from safe Disney programming, legal drama, edgy comedy, HBO programming, science fiction, and prime time sit-coms. The fact that he is all over the place with his breadth of work is what might make it so hard to name him or pin-point him to something specific that you’ve seen. Regardless, you know you’ve seen him and all you can come up with is, “Hey, it’s him…that guy who’s in everything!”
11. Clea DuVall – Estimated Net Worth: $1.5 Million
If you watched an independent film in the late 1990’s that featured a young female lead in a coming of age tale, there is a very good chance that young female lead was played by none other than Clea DuVall. Since her early years, DuVall has been what many refer to as a working actress. She racks up an impressive number of roles a year in television, film, and even television movies and she hasn’t slowed down since 1997. It would be hard to say exactly what anyone has seen her in since her roles are numerous and varied, but recently you’ve maybe seen her in The Newsroom, Bones, and American Horror Story.
Expect to see more of her as she already has a number of films slated for release this year.
10. Natasha Lyonne – Estimated Net Worth: $3 Million
Natasha Lyonne is the actress you see in a huge number of rather popular television shows and movies, but she never seems to be the actress that gets any real recognition or becomes a household name like a lot of her co-stars of the shows and films she is in. She’s probably the only main cast member in the American Pie series that you couldn’t name. Like everyone else in the world, you’re probably enjoying the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black but you still couldn’t name her even though you see her name on every episode. Most recently, she’s appeared in the popular HBO series Girls and IFC’s Portlandia.
9. Bob Balaban – Estimated Net Worth: $4 Million
Bob Balaban has been appearing in just about everything since the 1960’s. Whenever a show seems to be in need of a completely and painfully average looking guy, they turn to Balaban. Bob has played everything from store clerks to psychologists to fathers. He’s been in a number of television shows that everyone is sure to have seen from shows like Seinfeld and Friends to heavier programming like Entourage and Girls. He’s also no stranger to film. He’s been in classics like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and he’ll still take roles in romantic comedies like License to Wed while at the same time doing more underground work in films like A Mighty Wind and Ghost World.
8. Melanie Lynskey – Estimated Net Worth: $5 Million
Even though Melanie Lynskey has been in over sixty episodes of Two and A Half Men in the role of Rose, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who could name her when they saw her on screen, nor could you find someone that (without resorting to the internet) could name something she was in if just given her name. Melanie started out in pre-Lord of the Rings era Peter Jackson flicks like Heavenly Creatures and The Frighteners. Since those early roles, she’s appeared in a number of films and shows a year. Even when her gig on Two and A Half Men became reoccurring, she still did several films per year. Melanie has been in everything from feel good Christmas films to underground fair like Seeking a Friend For the End of the World and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
7. Elias Koteas – Estimated Net Worth: $7 Million
It’s astounding that Elias Koteas isn’t a household name since he’s been in several majorly popular films and television shows. Most recently he’s had major roles in The Killing, Chicago Fire, and Chicago P.D. Some of his film credits include major releases like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Shutter Island, and A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas. Some of you might even know him best from the original and much beloved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies as fan favorite Casey Jones.
One of the reasons Elias is seen in just about everything is because even at this point in his career and with as many high profile credits as he has, he’ll still take a role with a name like “Police Officer #1”.
6. William Fichtner – Estimated Net Worth: $8 Million
William Fichtner has pretty much looked exactly the same since his earliest roles in the late 1980’s. He has rarely if ever taken a role as a character that required an appearance change of any kind. He has pretty much looked the same in every role he’s ever taken (save a different hair-style from time to time) and yet you would still find it difficult to name him if you were watching a film or television series he is a part of.
Most recently he can be seen in the crime drama series Crossing Lines as Carl Hickman. He also played the role of antagonist Eric Sacks in the most recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film.
5. Wallace Shawn – Estimated Net Worth: $8 Million
What sets Wallace Shawn apart from just about everyone on this list is the fact that one of his characters is often quoted and even has a rather popular internet meme based around the character’s quote. Wallace played the role of Vizzini in the popular and seemingly timeless film The Princess Bride. If you aren’t sure who Vizzini is, well, that’s just “INCONCEIVABLE!” Even if you are the type of Princess Bride fan that’s looking right at the character on screen while quoting the line, you probably still couldn’t name Wallace Shawn as the actor.
In addition to having played such a notable role, Shawn has been in just about every television show you could name, in addition to a huge number of films since the late 1960’s.
4. Jennifer Coolidge – Estimated Net Worth: $8 Million
Jennifer Coolidge has been on a number of popular shows throughout the years, even landing two different roles in the mega-popular Friends and its far less popular Joey spin-off. Perhaps one of the reasons she can be seen in so much stuff is because it seems she’ll take just about any role offered. She’ll be in underground comedy films like A Mighty Wind, major comedies like Legally Blonde, and yet she’ll also appear in the notoriously awful Friedberg and Seltzer Movie movies.
What’s strange about the fact that a lot of people couldn’t name the actress (despite a major role in 2 Broke Girls) is the fact that she played the role of Stifler’s Mom in the mega-popular American Pie series. This is the woman responsible for the term MILF becoming so popular and most of us couldn’t even name her.
3. James Hong – $8.5 Million
Hong has probably been acting longer than anyone on this list. His career started in the mid 1950’s. Some of his earliest roles in major shows were on Dragnet, Zorro, and a dual role on Bonanza. These are just to name a few because his list of having at least one role in a major television program throughout several decades is absolutely staggering. It might even be easier to name some movies or television shows that James Hong hasn’t been in. He’s also done voice work in a number of animated works and video games as well.
2. Edward Herrmann – Estimated Net Worth: $10 Million
If anyone can name this actor now it’s because he just recently passed away. Edward Herrmann was a terrific actor that you saw in a number of shows and movies. Generally Herrmann played doctors, lawyers, and fathers. Usually these characters were rather wealthy as Herrmann had an almost natural air of high society to him. Prior to his death, Herrmann was most recently seen on the television series Black Box and The Good Wife.
Despite being in just about everything, Herrmann will probably be best known and most fondly remembered for his role as Richard Gilmore from over 150 episodes of The Gilmore Girls, which is seeing another upsurge in popularity due to its somewhat recent inclusion on the Netflix roster.
1. Stanley Tucci – Estimated Net Worth: $18.5 Million
Oh! You know this one! Stanley Tucci! You hear that name all the time. He’s totally in that movie with the…or wait…maybe he’s in that show with the…no. You know it though. It’s right on the tip of your tongue…
Stop trying. You’re not going to figure it out. You would think it would be easier to pin-point what you’ve seen Tucci in, or for that matter know who he is when you see him. He’s been in some of the biggest movies of the last few years. Recently, Tucci has been in The Hunger Games series, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Percy Jackson, Captain America, and Muppets Most Wanted. The challenge here will be trying to figure out who he played in each film without using IMDb!