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Top 10 Actors You Know By Face But Not by Name

Top 10 Actors You Know By Face But Not by Name
VOICE OVER: Tom Aglio WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Putting a name to a face has never been harder. For this list, we'll be looking at famous character actors who have appeared in dozens of movies but whose names you might not know. Our countdown includes Luis Guzmán, Judy Greer, John Michael Higgins, and more!

Top 10 Actors You Know by Face But Not by Name


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Actors You Know by Face But Not by Name.

For this list, we’ll be looking at famous character actors who have appeared in dozens of movies but whose names you might not know.

Did you know any of their names? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: Luis Guzmán

This Puerto Rican actor is one of those people who pop up in everything without ever making himself famous. According to IMDb, Guzmán has appeared in over 150 movies and television shows since his career began in the late ‘70s. Some of his most notable TV work includes “Narcos,” in which he plays Colombian drug lord José Gacha, and the CBS medical drama “Code Black.” He is also a frequent collaborator of acclaimed movie director Paul Thomas Anderson, appearing in his movies “Punch-Drunk Love,” “Boogie Nights,” and “Magnolia.” Guzmán has also lent his voice to the “Grand Theft Auto” series, playing kingpin Ricardo Díaz.

#9: Walton Goggins

Hailing from Alabama, Walton Goggins has given consistently excellent performances since his career began, and he’s finally earning the acclaim and recognition that he deserves. Goggins played Shane Vendrell on FX’s “The Shield” throughout much of the 2000s before earning an Emmy nomination for playing primary antagonist Boyd Crowder on “Justified.” He is also a recent collaborator of Quentin Tarantino’s, appearing in his movies “Django Unchained” and “The Hateful Eight.” These have given rise to more substantial movie roles, and in recent years Goggins has played villains in blockbusters like “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Tomb Raider.”

#8: Vincent Schiavelli

Roger Ebert said it best when he stated that Vincent Schiavelli “had a way of slipping into films without people knowing his name.” Unfortunately, Schiavelli passed away from cancer in 2005, but he left behind an incredible legacy as a character actor. Schiavelli’s unique face is instantly recognizable, and people may remember him from popular movies like “Tomorrow Never Dies,” “Batman Returns,” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” He also appeared in some beloved dramas, including “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Ghost,” in which he portrayed the scary Subway Ghost. Few character actors were as famous as Schiavelli.

#7: Gary Cole

Yeeeeeah, if we could all go ahead and honor the work of Gary Cole, that’d be great. Most people will recognize Cole’s face, as his character Bill Lumbergh is plastered all over the internet. But aside from providing a funny meme, Cole has also left behind a solid string of work. He has starred in some popular TV shows in recent years, including “Mixed-ish” and “Veep,” for which he received an Emmy nomination. His work in film is a little less prevalent but no less important, as he has appeared in popular comedies like “Office Space,” “Talladega Nights,” and “Dodgeball.”

#6: Judy Greer

The great thing about Judy Greer is that she literally does everything. Some character actors find themselves within a niche, but Greer samples a little bit of every genre. Of course, this has also led to her increased fame. She is the sidekick in many romantic comedies, including “27 Dresses” and “13 Going on 30.” She’s done some blockbusters, including “Jurassic World” and the two “Ant-Man” films. She has also starred in various horror movies, including the recent “Halloween.” And finally, Greer has quite an exhaustive list of television credits, including a memorable run as Kitty on “Arrested Development.” Greer rarely lands a leading role, but she clearly doesn’t need to.

#5: Stephen Tobolowsky

Anyone who watches “Groundhog Day” every year will instantly recognize the face of character actor Stephen Tobolowsky. Unlike Phil Connors, no one feels the need to punch it. Aside from that one iconic role, Tobolowsky also starred as Sammy Jankis in “Memento.” But most of his credits belong on the small screen, and anyone who watches television on a regular basis is sure to recognize him. He starred in the likes of “Deadwood,” “Heroes,” and “Glee,” all of which represent his wide-ranging capabilities as an actor. Tobolowsky can do a little bit of everything, whether it’s playing the eccentric leader of a glee club or an old-timey commissioner speaking in Shakespearean prose.

#4: Margo Martindale

Despite appearing in over 120 movies and TV shows since 1987, it’s only recently that the wonderful character actor Margo Martindale is getting some recognition. She starred in a few big movies throughout the 2000s, including “Million Dollar Baby.” But Martindale has recently hit a stellar stride on television. In 2011, she received an Emmy award for playing Mags Bennett on “Justified.” She later received four nominations and two wins for playing KGB handler Claudia on “The Americans.” A further Emmy nomination came in 2020 for the FX historical drama “Mrs. America,” in which Martindale played Congresswoman and renowned feminist Bella Abzug.

#3: Kurt Fuller

This actor has appeared in over 200 movies and television shows since 1984, so chances are that you’ve seen him in something. Fuller is quite prevalent in late-‘80s and early-‘90s cinema, playing the likes of Hardemeyer in “Ghostbusters II” and Russell in “Wayne’s World.” He also showed his comedic chops in the first “Scary Movie” by playing The Sheriff. Fuller has also appeared in some notable television shows, playing angel Zachariah in “Supernatural” and Coroner Woody Strode in “Psych.” He also reprised his role in the subsequent “Psych” films and currently stars as psychiatrist Dr. Boggs in the supernatural drama “Evil.”

#2: John Michael Higgins

This is one of those comedians whom everyone in the industry clearly respects but who hasn’t attained mainstream recognition. However, everyone certainly knows his face. Higgins has starred in a slew of comedy films, including the “Pitch Perfect” trilogy, “Fun with Dick and Jane,” and “Bad Teacher.” But Higgins’s most substantial work can be found on television. He currently plays Principal Toddman in the “Saved by the Bell” revival and has appeared in the likes of “Ally McBeal,” “Arrested Development,” and “Community.” He is also a renowned television host and has earned an Emmy nomination for hosting the Game Show Network’s “America Says.”

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Chin Han
Various Superhero Movies, Including “The Dark Knight” & “The Winter Soldier”

Barry Shabaka Henley
Frequent Collaborator of Michael Mann’s

Beth Grant
You May Recognize Her From Shows Like “The Mindy Project” & “Jericho”

John Hannah
Scottish Actor from “The Mummy” Trilogy & “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Jimmi Simpson
From Shows like “It’s Always Sunny,” “House of Cards,” & “Westworld”

#1: Stephen Root

Few character actors are as diverse as Stephen Root. The man can, and has, done everything. He has done a lot of comedy, starring in the likes of “Dodgeball,” “NewsRadio,” and “Office Space” (albeit with coke bottle glasses that make him unrecognizable). He is also an accomplished dramatic actor, having starred in movies and TV shows like “Get Out” and “Boardwalk Empire.” Root currently stars as Monroe Fuches in HBO’s “Barry,” a role that garnered the actor his first Emmy nomination. Root is the epitome of a perfect character actor - far-reaching, very talented, and yet not a household name.
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