TV's Busiest Character Actors: Michael K. Williams, Stephen Root - VRGyani News and Media

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Sunday, August 8, 2021

TV's Busiest Character Actors: Michael K. Williams, Stephen Root

If you watch a lot of television, you’re likely to come across a few familiar faces that you love, but perhaps cannot remember exactly what show you love them from. That’s because this impressive lineup of character actors have demonstrated their range of acting abilities in numerous projects, consistently working and making their mark on acclaimed shows such as Veep, The Walking Dead, Daredevil, The Queen’s Gambit, The Night Of, and Watchmen.

Here’s a guide to exactly who some of the most talented and busy TV character actors working today are and where you’ve likely spotted them.

John Carroll Lynch

You might associate John Carroll Lynch with several menacing and sinister performances in his career. He played a prison guard in Face/Off, suspected Zodiac killer in Zodiac, and most recently Twisty the Clown and John Wayne Gacy in 22 episodes of American Horror Story (he recently discussed his experiences on the latter show with Collider). But he’s also been in more lighthearted projects such as The Founder where he played co-founder of McDonald’s Mac McDonald, Bernie in Crazy, Stupid, Love., Norm Gunderson in Fargo, and Lloyd Hennick in the HBO comedy series Veep.

He’s also had guest appearances in series such as Star Trek: Voyager, The West Wing, The Fugitive, The Drew Carey Show, Body of Proof, The Americans, Big Sky, Billions, and The Walking Dead, where his character Eastman had an enormous impact on Morgan in the episode titled “Here’s Not Here” in Season 6 of the series. Though he’s great at playing serious roles, he doesn’t take himself too seriously, as seen in an episode of Late Night with Seth Meyers where he appeared in the desk bit “Who’s That Guy?”

Lennon Parham

Actress, comedian, and writer Lennon Parham has been a prominent figure in the comedy scene since her days at improv comedy hotspot Upright Citizens Brigade. Before that, she studied theatre at the University of Evansville and taught French in the Teach for America program. She’s often accompanied by long-time friend and collaborator Jessica St. Clair, who co-created and co-starred with her in the NBC series Best Friends Forever and the USA Network comedy based on their real-life friendship titled Playing House, which ran for three seasons and also starred Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele, Don’t Think Twice) and Zach Woods (Silicon Valley, The Office). Parham’s appeared in popular comedies including Parks and Recreation, How I Met Your Mother, Arrested Development, New Girl, Comedy Bang! Bang!, I’m Sorry, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Veep, where she played Karen Collins, the senior advisor to President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and whose specialty, she claims, is “common sense.” (Karen’s meaningless ramblings and empty suggestions often infuriate Anna Chlumsky’s tightly wound Amy Brookeheimer.)

Last year, Parham sat down with Bless This Mess co-star and admirer Dax Shepard to talk about her upbringing in the south and her experiences in show business on his popular podcast Armchair Expert. Parham is no stranger to podcasts herself, as she has frequented Matt Besser’s improv4humans and hosts the fictional podcast WOMP It Up! with, you guessed it, Jessica St. Clair. She can next be seen in the HBO series Minx starring Jake Johnson (New Girl, Ride the Eagle) and Ophelia Lovibond (Trying, Feel Good), which is currently in pre-production.

Geoffrey Cantor

Prolific actor and acting coach Geoffrey Cantor has captivated audiences of both the stage and screen. He studied theatre at Amherst College, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, and in London. He has since starred in several theatre projects including Side Man on Broadway, Death of a Salesman with Judd Hirsch, and Tony winning director Julie Taymor’s Titus Andronicus. He’s most known for his role in the Netflix series Daredevil and The Punisher, where he played fan favorite Mitchell Ellison, the editor-in-chief at the New York Bulletin and friend of Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll).

Cantor has appeared in several commercials and television series including the limited series Maniac, where he played lawyer Frank alongside stars Emma Stone and Jonah Hill, in addition to The Sopranos, Ed, All My Children, Law & Order, Damages, The Americans, Madam Secretary, The Blacklist, Elementary, and The Tick. You can spot Cantor in numerous films as well, such as the Cohen brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, Public Enemies, Man on a Ledge, The Wizard of Lies, and American Pickle. Be on the lookout for him as Dr. Falk in the upcoming film Call Jane, starring Sigourney Weaver, Kate Mara, and Elizabeth Banks and in the new AppleTV+ series Foundation alongside Jared Harris and Lee Pace, where he plays Ambassador Thanwall.

RELATED: John Carroll Lynch Breaks Down His 'American Horror Stories' Episode and Reflects on Making 'Zodiac'

Michael K. Williams

Critically acclaimed actor Michael K. Williams delivers stand-out performances in both film and television. In 2020, he sat down with Vanity Fair to break down his most career-defining moments. He started out entertaining people as a background dancer in music videos. Not long after he started performing, he was viciously attacked and slashed across the face with a knife, which left him with a prominent scar. Luckily for him, this blemish became a stand-out characteristic for photographers and directors.

His first big on-screen role was in the movie Bullet, where he played Tupac Shakur’s brother High Top. Shakur saw his photo, and tracked down Williams for the part. While on the road as a dancer, not long after Bullet, he received a call that Martin Scorsese wanted to meet with him. The audition for Bringing Out the Dead went so well, that Scorsese offered him the role on the spot. Since these film roles that helped put Williams on the map, he’s steadily worked in television, where he’s accumulated five Emmy nominations. He’s starred in numerous HBO series, including The Sopranos, in which he said the opportunity was “monumental” and that he “felt like [he] arrived.”

During a difficult time in his life, where he was depressed and surrounded by debt, he received a fax of the character breakdown for Omar Little in The Wire, a show he describes as a “love letter to our nation.” Other roles for him include Boardwalk Empire alongside Steve Buscemi, The Gambler with Mark Wahlberg, Bessie,The Night Of, Hap and Leonard, Lovecraft Country, F is For Family, and When They See Us, which he said “renewed [his] vows” with his passion for art. Next he can be seen in the series Vital Signs, and the films Surrounded and 892.

Bill Camp

Actor extraordinaire Bill Camp stuns on both the stage and screen. He and his wife, actress Elizabeth Marvel (Homeland, House of Cards), are Obie Award winners and Juilliard School alumni. Camp, who took home his Obie for his performance in playwright Tony Kushner’s Homebody/Kabul, started his illustrious career in the competitive New York theater scene. He’s been in a plethora of plays at The American Repertory Theater at Harvard University such as Henry V, Olly’s Prison, and Richard II, along with several Broadway shows including The Seagull, Jackie, Death of a Salesman, and The Crucible.

After a brief hiatus from acting, in which he worked in restaurants and as a mechanic, his passion for storytelling was reinvigorated and his head was cleared. In recent years, his work has largely appeared on screen in numerous critically acclaimed films such as Birdman, Joker, News of the World, 12 Years a Slave, Molly’s Game, Vice, Lincoln, and Wildlife. On the television side, he is probably best known for playing beloved chess mentor Mr. Shaibel to a young Beth Harmon in the hit Netflix limited series The Queen’s Gambit. His character quickly became a fan favorite, with many considering his lack of an Emmy nomination to be quite the snub. He’s also starred in series including Hulu’s The Looming Tower, The Leftovers, Damages, The Night Of, and The Outsider. He recently opened up about his career on the Awards Chatter podcast hosted by The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg. Next, Camp can be seen in the action thriller Sound of Freedom and the Showtime series American Rust with Jeff Daniels and Maura Tierney.

Hong Chau

Actress Hong Chau burst onto the scene with her performance in the star-studded Alexander Payne satirical film Downsizing, alongside Matt Damon, Jason Sudeikis, Christoph Waltz, and Kristen Wiig. Though she previously appeared in shows like Good Luck Charlie, NCIS, How I Met Your Mother, A to Z, and the film Inherent Vice, it was Downsizing that got audiences’ attention and earned her a Golden Globe nomination. Since then, she’s joined the cast of several popular shows. She played Jackie in Season 1 of Big Little Lies, which stars Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Zoë Kravitz, Shailene Woodley, and Nicole Kidman.

In the HBO limited series Watchmen, she played manipulative mastermind Lady Trieu, who not only takes over Veidt Enterprises, but is revealed to be the daughter of the late Adrian Veidt (Jeremy Irons). Her mysterious plant-loving character shares several tense scenes with Regina King’s Angela Abar and Jean Smart’s Laurie Blake. In an interview with NPR, she admits, “I think I audibly groaned,” upon hearing that Watchmen was based on a comic book. After reading the script and meeting with series creator Damon Lindelof, however, she realized that the show was not your average superhero tale.

In the Amazon series Homecoming, which stars Julia Roberts, Bobby Cannavale, Stephan James, and Janelle Monáe, she played receptionist Audrey Temple, introduced in Season 1 and a key part of Season 2. Next Chau can be seen in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, Showing Up with Michelle Williams and Judd Hirsch, and The Menu, a comedy horror film written by Late Night with Seth MeyersSeth Reiss and Succession’s Will Tracy, starring Ralph Fiennes, Nicholas Hoult, and Anya-Taylor Joy.

Stephen Root

Veteran actor Stephen Root has a whopping 258 acting credits to his name. He’s come a long way from his first onscreen role in Crocodile Dundee II in 1988, where his character’s name was actually Toilet. He landed a main role as Jimmy James in the hit series NewsRadio from 1995-1999, which he starred in alongside Dave Foley, Maura Tierney, Andy Dick, Phil Hartman, and Joe Rogan. Right after playing the bombastic Jimmy, he switched gears and starred as the meek Milton in the Mike Judge cult-comedy Office Space with Ron Livingston, Gary Cole, David Herman, and Jennifer Aniston. Some film titles you may recognize him from include Idiocracy, No Country For Old Men, Dodgeball, J. Edgar, Selma, Life of the Party, Bombshell, Uncle Frank, and Jordan Peele’s Get Out.

While that might seem like a lot, it’s nothing compared to his television appearances. After his first television series, Roseanne, Root was a main cast member on the aforementioned NewsRadio, and guested on shows such as Head of the Class, Home Improvement, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Night Court, Party of Five, Seinfeld, Ed, Malcolm in the Middle, The Big Bang Theory, Angie Tribeca, and Veep. In addition to that slew of titles, he’s done voice-over work in over ten projects, most notably as various voices in King of the Hill. He’s had a recurring role in The West Wing, The Man in the High Castle, True Blood, 24, Boardwalk Empire, Justified, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Perry Mason (along with dozens of other titles we just couldn’t fit in one article).

In 2019, he scored his first Emmy nomination for his performance as Monroe Fuches in the hit HBO series Barry (which recently started filming its third season) — in an episode of Lights Out with David Spade, Root popped by to join the rest of the Barry cast as they recalled some of their worst auditions. The busy actor also recently caught up with past co-star and friend Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers, He’s Just Not That Into You) on the podcast Life is Short with Justin Long, where he detailed his experiences working with Long on the movie Dodgeball and other projects throughout his tremendous career. Be on the lookout for Root in Queenpins starring Kristen Bell, Joel Cohen’s Tragedy of Macbeth starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, Paint with Owen Wilson and Wendi McLendon-Covey, To Leslie with Allison Janney, and as a voice in the series Blade Runner: Black Lotus.

Whether they're in one scene, two episodes, or an entire season, these actors will leave you wanting more.

KEEP READING: Stephen Root on 'Perry Mason' and His Hopes to Shoot 'Barry' Season 3 and 4 Back-to-Back



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