What were you doing in 1995? 1985? 1975? (Eep) 1965?
William Shatner’s classic guest role on The Twilight Zone, Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Emmy-winning turn on All My Children, and David Duchovny’s years as the narrator/host on the Showtime semi-porn Red Shoe Diaries are the stuff of legend. But many other genre favorites have, let us say, very interesting professional backgrounds. Some of them appeared in commercials. Some languished in bit-part hell. A surprising number appeared in soap operas. And some… did other things.
Herewith, in no particular order, is a tribute to a few of our favorites.
JACKIE EARLE HALEY
Now: Jackie Earle Haley is in the midst of an impressive career renaissance. In 2006, after years away from the business end of the camera, this former child star earned an Oscar nomination for his fearless portrayal of a pedophile in Little Children. His recent appearance as Freddy Krueger in the reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street was regrettably unenthusiastically received [Except here – Ed.]; however, as the vigilante Rorschach, he was widely considered the best thing about Watchmen. (Well, him and Billy Crudup’s giant glowing blue whangdoodle.) Today, you can see him on your TV every week as Christopher Chance’s shrewd colleague Guerrero on Human Target.
…and Then: Younger readers may not remember this, but back in the day, Haley was a teen heartthrob. In fact -- and here’s the part where I open myself up to ridicule, so have at it -- he was one of my first celebrity crushes. As too-cool-for-school Kelly Leak in The Bad News Bears and its various sequels, he made my little Catholic schoolgirl heart go pitter-patter, and while it would be inaccurate to say that I totally would have hit that, I certainly would have held hands with that, and maybe even shared my 7-Up with that at the pool. And why not? Mid-70’s JEH was cute as a bug’s ear:
Pensive Teen Jackie:
It is said that in the early 70's, Haley did some commercials and appeared in guest roles on shows as diverse as The Waltons, The Partridge Family, and Shazam! I searched for evidentiary proof (in the form of photographs or -- even better -- video), but unfortunately my web-fu was not up to the task. Here he is playing air hockey with Tatum O’Neal in The Bad News Bears, though:
Now: He’s the rakishly charming eponymous crime writer and detective on ABC's Castle, now in its third season. Before that, he was the rakishly charming Captain Mal Reynolds on Firefly. He also had a brief but memorable turn on Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a misogynistic preacher dude in the employ of the First Evil, and played superhero Captain Hammer with hilariously dimwitted arrogance in the Emmy-winning Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.
…and Then: But Fillion will always be cherished by One Life to Live fans as one of the several actors to portray Joe, né Joey, Buchanan. Fillion appeared on the show in the mid-90's as part of a particularly memorable story arc. You see, Joey was the beloved younger son of one of Llanview, Pennsylvania’s most prominent families. His mother, the formidable Victoria Buchanan, had spent years locked in bitterest enmity with local diva Dorian Lord. Upon Joey’s high school graduation, Dorian decided to stick it to Viki by seducing Joey, relieving him of his virginity in the process. Naturally, the couple surprised everyone, themselves included, by falling in love for real. Sadly, their passion was doomed; Dorian was eventually kidnapped (she had a lot of enemies), and whilst in captivity was forced to write poor devastated Joey a Dear John letter. This was probably for the best -- the world wasn’t ready for their love -- but Dorian will always have a tender place in Joe’s heart. (Meanwhile, he moved on this her niece, Kelly.)
Remarkably few photos of this epic romance survive online, but here's one:
And here's Joey and Kelly, from Soap Opera Digest:
And... oh, my!
Also, you can relive Joe and Dorian’s first kiss here:
Now: Matthew Fox announced this year that he planned to retire from acting and move to Oregon with his family. I wish him the best; he did a fine job as the earnest Dr. Jack Shephard in six seasons of Lost, even earning an Emmy nomination for the role at this year's Awards (apparently, the Academy is impressed by ceaseless crying, having Daddy Issues and getting your ass convincingly kicked on a weekly basis -- plus, a good death scene)...
…and Then: …which was probably considerably more rewarding than his earlier work as a JC Penney model, in this so very stylish Christmas 1993 catalogue:
Or in a feature on cologne in Vogue.
It’s worth noting that Fox’s big break came in 1994 with Party of Five, which featured a small army of genre stalwarts, including Scott Wolf (V), Neve Campbell (the Scream trilogy, The Craft), Jennifer Love Hewitt (I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Ghost Whisperer) and even Lacey Chabert was in that terrible Lost in Space movie and provided the voice of Gwen Stacy in The Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon.
But wait! More from Lost:
Now: Steaming up The CW as bad-boy vampire Damon Salvatore on The Vampire Diaries, he makes us sigh. As poor doomed Boone on Lost, he made us cry. As Entertainment Weekly’s Ultimate Sexy Beast (2010) -- in which he, as Damon, beat out the likes of Edward Cullen (by a mere 3,902 votes), Number Six, Wolverine and... um, Ms. Pac-Man in an old-fashioned elimination tournament -- he made us drool. As a tireless and outspoken advocate for the Louisiana Gulf coast in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, he made even The Washington Post sit up and take notice.
…and Then: As a hot young model, he made some… interesting artistic choices.
Here he is enjoying college days (I guess), with a girl who looks a lot like Bryce Dallas Howard...
Frolicking in swimwear…
And -- well, frankly, I’m not entirely sure what this one is all about.
But wait! Still more Lost:
Now: Great and wonderful things are surely ahead for the freakishly charismatic Mr. Holloway, who played the rascally and romantically torn Sawyer. Just for starters, you can look forward to seeing him alongside Tom Cruise in the forthcoming Mission: Impossible IV, AKA Ghost Patrol, co-written by J. J. Abrams and directed by Simpsons legend and Academy Award-winning animated feature impressario, Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles).
…and Then: The cast of Lost really is the gift that keeps on giving to an author of an article like this one. There’s so much good stuff out there, you see. I knew that Holloway had done some modeling, so this didn’t particularly surprise me:
And I’m a sucker for a Russian hat (as who isn’t?):
But this? This is pure all-around goodness.
We’ll move on from Lost for now, although believe me, I could continue. Oh, boy, could I ever… Well, okay, maybe just one more:
Now: She earns raves (and the odd Emmy nomination) as Juliet on Lost and ass-kicking Erica Evans on V.
…and Then: The raves were a bit fewer and farther between when Mitchell took a job as the replacement Dinah Lee Mayberry on the ABC soap opera Loving. Her predecessor in the role, one Jessica Collins, had been enormously popular, and when Collins left “to pursue other interests” (I seem to recall something about grad school, but I may be, and probably am, making that up entirely), fans took their angst out on Mitchell (she’s talked about it in interviews; apparently some of her fan mail was pretty ghastly). And all poor Elizabeth wanted to do was realistically portray a woman with brain damage incurred in a plane crash who also had a fiancé named Trucker. No, really, that actually was his name. I’m pretty sure that’s him in this picture:
You can’t tell from the picture, but Trucker was really cute. (He and another woman, Trisha, had been The Supercouple on the show for a time. I don’t remember what happened to Trisha.) I’m not sure what Trucker or Jessica Collins are up to these days, but I’m pretty sure Elizabeth Mitchell has won over most of those jellus haterz since then.
Ahead... Robert Pattinson, Jensen Ackles, The Men of Star Trek: The Next Generation and more...