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Jun 18, 2009

Familiar Face - Unknown Name #14 - John Carroll Lynch

Call them what you want - character actors, "That Guy(s)," scene stealers - I don't care. This is a regular feature where I spotlight one performer, whether they be longtime veterans like J.K. Simmons or Barry Corbin, or a fresher face just making their way up the stardom ranks. For previous FF-UNs, click here.

Today's Familiar Face-Unknown Name:

John Carroll Lynch

Where You've Seen Him (high profile): Lynch got his first professional credit at age 30 in 1993, but it wasn't until Fargo in 1996 that he gained real attention. Playing Marge Gunderson's postage-stamp designing husband probably wasn't the kind of role that one would think would propel anyone to any kind of notoriety, but the film was an unexpected cult and mainstream hit, earning $25 million stateside and picking up seven Academy Award nominations. Since then, he's been in such feature films as Gran Torino, Volcano, Face/Off, Zodiac, and of course, The Drew Carey Show, where he played Drew's cross-dressing brother.

Where You've Seen Him (not-so-high profile): Recently, he's been bouncing back and forth between TV and film and, outside of Gran Torino, none of the projects have really caught on with the public. There was the unseen Benecio del Toro film Things We Lost in the Fire, the underseen HBO series Carnivale, the Fox series K-Ville and the Albert Brooks bomb Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World. He also had decent-sized roles in Gothika, Confidence, and Bubble Boy.

Character Specialties: Lynch has been a slippery one to lock down into a type, as the best character actors seem to be. He can do menacing, gullible, downright dumb, sensitive; if I had to pin him down to one phrase, it would probably be "generic white male." That's not meant as an insult, but to insinuate that when you need someone that fits the middle of the road, a guy that disappears in the crowd, with potential for a wide array of emotions, he's your man.

My favorite role: It might be tempting to say his Polish barber from Torino, but all these years later, I have to go with Norm Gunderson. He gave so much with so little screen time, and even his dopey "Ok, Margie" lines can induce a chuckle.

Little Known Facts: A couple of not-really coincidences with me, but that's about it. First of all, my sister's last name is now Carroll, so that probably helps me remember his name. Also, Lynch was born in Boulder, Colorado, where I lived form age 8 to 13. Though, in doing research on that, I also learned that Jessica Biel lived in Boulder at the same time as me, but the 12-year old version of me probably wouldn't have been too interested in the 7-year old version of her anyway.

Also, he had his garden featured in August 2008 Sunset Magazine, so he's got that working for him, which is nice.

On Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Carroll_Lynch
On IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002253/

12 people have chosen wisely: on "Familiar Face - Unknown Name #14 - John Carroll Lynch"

Mrs Fletch said...

I really like this feature, but how come they are ALL men?

THN said...

Because the broads are all expendable? Actually, I was thinking about that blonde chick that does the commercial with Elaine from Seinfeld. She's in everything now.

Fletch said...

I leave the ladies to Wayne over at Reel Whore.

There are a few other reasons, too, from the fact that I don't see or notice that many female character actors or that women don't fit into the "That Guy" descriptor very well.

Or I'm just sexist. ;)

blake said...

I think he's in the Scorsese movie too!

bd79 said...

He's also the heroic train company guy who leaps into the lava and tosses the unconscious conductor to safety in "Volcano".

He's in the upcoming Shutter Island, which should be a pretty typical part for him.

Fletch said...

I was gonna ask which Scorcese movie, but BD just answered it.

And I mentioned Volcano - how could I not? I practically cried when he went down, even though he was playing a jerk (iirc). What a terrible way to go...

Jess said...

Mrs Fletch, I have to agree. I do try to bring up great woman on my site to counter fletch's excellent attention to the men.

I love this guy in Fargo!

Fletch said...

Yeah, Mrs. Fletch was giving me the business last night for my lack of lady loving (in this context, anyway). But really, how many quasi-known female character actors can you name?

Parker Posey
Jane Lynch
Stifler's mom
Beth Grant
Catherine O'hara
um... Edie McClure?
that one from Paris Je t'aime (Margo Martindale, iirc.)

I maintain that the field is too small.

Rick Olson said...

Lynch was pretty damn good playing against type in "Zodiac," I thought, and who doesn't love him in "Ron Burgundy?"

Fletch said...

"Ron Burgundy?" Lynch wasn't in Anchorman - methinks you're confusing him with David Koechner. But he was good in that, too... ;)

Daniel Getahun said...

I probably wouldn't know this if not for Lynch's local connection (you'll notice his first four movies were filmed in MN), but it's perhaps worth noting here that he also has a long and highly respected theater career. Just last year I saw him in Arthur Miller's "A View From the Bridge" in a performance that easily ranks as high as anything he's done on screen.

I thought he was completely freaky in Zodiac, and anyone who's seen Things We Lost in the Fire can tell you he holds his own against Del Toro - two great performances there, actually.

Great pick, as usual!

Reel Whore said...

Thanks for the shout. I do try to get the ladies their respect. I've got an ever growing list of unsung women I need to publish more regularly. The problem is many women are just below That Gal status while others rise just a pinch above That Gals. I would consider Catherine Keener a good example of above That Gal status.

Fletch, for Bizarro Blog-a-thon we should flip-flop genders. Eh?

JCL was excellently creepy in Zodiac, but Fargo is an unforgettable performance.