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Posted at 2:15 PM ET, 06/11/2010

Friday list: 10 peripheral movie and TV characters who deserve starring roles

By Jen Chaney

Could Kirk Lazarus -- just playing himself, not a dude disguised as a dude playing another dude -- handle his own movie? (Paramount Pictures)

Hollywood may have discovered a new hobby: shoving peripheral characters into the spotlight.

Russell Brand's hard-partying rocker Aldous Snow -- who was a supporting player in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," albeit a funny, impossible-to-ignore one -- got above-the-marquee billing in the recently released "Get Him to the Greek." And confirmation came this week that Paramount really is giving Tom Cruise's tyrannical, profanity-spewing producer from "Tropic Thunder," Les Grossman, his own movie.

Here at Celebritology, we're still not convinced that Cruise in a fat suit getting jiggy to Ludacris is enough to justify an entire motion picture. But this pair of cinematic episodes did get us thinking about which minor characters from film and television may deserve to rise to the major leagues. Because it's Friday, we generated a list on that very subject.

Jen's picks:

Kirk Lazarus in "Tropic Thunder": As noted by a reader in yesterday's Celebritology discussion, Les Grossman may not be a "Thunder" character worthy of a spin-off, but Robert Downey Jr's Method actor from that same comedy definitely is. His for-your-consideration video (see below) confirms that the guy has range and an unparalleled ability to shout and make idiotic statements. (Plus, he's the winner of six Crying Monkey Awards!) I, for one, would be happy to spend at least 90 minutes with him. And I wouldn't be surprised if he just happens to show up in the Grossman pic, especially since he was quoted in the "press release": "When asked what the screenplay was about Grossman responded: 'To quote my great friend Kirk Lazarus, ‘I don’t read the script, the script reads me.’"

Jesus Quintana from "The Big Lebowski": Okay, an alleged pedophile with a penchant for licking bowling balls may not scream successful Hollywood franchise. But who among the "Lebowski" hardcore would not love to learn more about the guy (John Turturro) who wears a jumpsuit, refers to himself in the third person and has mad bowling skills? One possible way to make a Jesus movie more palatable: turn it into a buddy comedy and pair the nutjob with The Dude's buddy Walter (John Goodman), who could escalate the craziness while also, dare I say it, teaching Jesus a few things about the Shabbos.

David Wooderson from "Dazed and Confused": I know that Matthew McConaughey has aged a bit since he first portrayed the laidback city employee with the cheesy 'stache. But I'd love to see what an older version of Wooderson is up to now. Does he still love those redheads? Is he maintaining that "I get older, they stay the same age" attitude about high school girls? Is he still an Aerosmith fan? I want to know, but I only want to know if McConaughey is playing the part and "Dazed" writer-director Richard Linklater is calling the shots. In the meantime, let's play tribute to the man who makes a Moon Tower party a happening event:

Chazz Reinhold from "Wedding Crashers": Let's face it. After the debacle that was "Land of the Lost," Will Ferrell could use a hit. If his collaboration with Mark Wahlberg doesn't do it, expanding his cameo as a guy currently living the dream by crashing funerals -- one of the funniest segments of this 2005 summer hit -- just might. (Enjoy this scene, complete with NSFW language.)

Lucille Bluth from "Arrested Development"
: Who knows if we'll ever get an "Arrested Development" movie at this point? Perhaps another approach is warranted: a spin-off that puts the alcohol-swilling, verbally abusive Bluth matriarch at the center of the action. The "Sex and the City" ladies seem to have fallen off their mark, based on the quality of the recent sequel. Maybe they should pass the baton to Lucille, who, as played by Jessica Walter, is just as quick-witted and blunt as Samantha. Plus she could easily drink all four of the SATC ladies under the table, easy.

Liz's picks:

Omar from "The Wire": A gay hard-as-nails stick-up artist who managed make a living robbing Baltimore’s biggest, scariest drug dealers while simultaneously helping the cops bag some major bad guys? In a show chock full of standout characters, “The Wire’s” Omar Little (played to perfection by Michael Kenneth Williams) was, to me, one of the show’s most fascinating characters. Hey HBO, why not have David Simon peel off a few writers from the disappointing (sorry) “Treme” to pen a prequel series -- one that expands on the previous prequel shorts -- all about Omar? We could find out, finally, how he got that scar, when he came out, why he’s always whistling “The Farmer in the Dell,” and why it is the guy is just so smart. (In the meantime, look for Williams in HBO’s upcoming fall series “Boardwalk Empire.”)

Here's a great fan tribute (careful, a little NSFW language here):

Creed Bratton from "The Office": Mysterious. Creepy. Possibly homeless. What “Office” fan wouldn’t want to know more about Dunder-Mifflin’s long-serving quality assurance director? Played by the real life Creed Bratton (a member of '60s band the Grass Roots), Creed is a master of subtlety, possesses an amazing ability to do zero actual work and has a knack for delivering mystifying, yet hilarious one liners ("When I was a teenager, I was in an iron-lung." What?!) that give us the merest peek behind the curtain into his twisted psyche. Surely the network that brought us "The Carol Burnett Show" spinoff "Mama's Family" can give Creed 30 minutes of airtime a week. Again, thanks to a dedicated fan, here's a video compilation of some of Creed's best moments.

Lafayette from "True Blood": HBO's vampire show for adults is finally back this weekend after almost a year's hiatus. Fans (including me) are anxious to jump back in to the ever-dramatic life of Bon Temps, La.'s favorite supernatural pixie, Sookie Stackhouse. Me, I'm also excited to pick back up where we left off with gay, hash-slinging, V dealing powerhouse Lafayette Reynolds, who delivers some of the show's best lines. How about an off-season or web-based show centered on Lafayette? It would make for a nice respite from the over-played on-again/off-again relationship between Sookie and vampire Bill.

Johnny from "Airplane": This may be a tall order since actor Stephen Stucker died from AIDS-related complications in 1986, but I still think a movie about the guy who managed to upstage Lloyd Bridges with his non sequiturs can totally carry his own feature length film. I could go on here trying to capture his delivery, but it's better to experience it yourself in the clip below:

Sawyer and/or Hurley from "Lost": Okay maybe it's partly because we can't let go, but I'm not sure primetime TV is done with all of our Losties yet. Forget forthright Jack and waffling Kate. My money's on Sawyer (Josh Holloway) and/or Hurley (Jorge Garcia) -- characters who existed somewhat on the fringe of the six-year-long show's action, but remained fan favorites -- having what it takes to carry their own shows. Think a James "Sawyer" Ford prequel that each week recounts one of the con man's schemes (peppered with ample shirtless shots) or a Hurley spin-off that chronicles his time as keeper of the island with trusty sidekick Ben Linus providing a little comic relief (though we may get a taste of this on the DVD release). I'd watch.

By Jen Chaney  | June 11, 2010; 2:15 PM ET
Categories:  Friday Lists, Movies, Pop Culture, TV  | Tags:  Friday Lists, Pop Culture  
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It worked well for "Maude" (from "All in the Family") and "Frasier" (from "Cheers"). But not so much for a lot of spin-offs.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | June 11, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

C'mon Liz, shirtlessness aside, the best character on Lost was John Locke. We could see him in a spinoff with new buds Thomas Hobbes (Michael Chiklis) and Charles Montesquieu (Javier Bardem). Tho I gotta admit the Hurley show would be good too.

Belker from Hill Street Blues would be interesting for about one season.

I always liked the Principal from Boston Public, who was so much more interesting than the principal in the Sue Sylvester Show, I mean, Glee. I'm not sure he could sustain a series though, since the ensemble cast he was part of couldn't.

A lot of second bananas seemed more interesting than the main characters going all the way back to Norton on the Honeymooners, which was otherwise a worthless show. This emphatically did NOT apply to Fred Mertz on Lucy, for which there was no excuse.

Posted by: reddragon1 | June 11, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Nosy, speaking of AITF, The Jeffersons did pretty darn well too. Not so much Archie on his own in Archie Bunker's place. Just not the same without Eat-it.

I always thought it would have been interesting to follow Miss Kitty around when Matt was out chasing outlaws. Then I saw "Deadwood" and now think, maybe not so much.

This is totally out of left field, but I think Wierd Al Yankovic could be the lead in some kind of sitcom.

Posted by: reddragon1 | June 11, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

And, oh yeah, a number of characters in Twin Peaks would be worth exploring. Although they may show up on one of the vampire shows or something.

Posted by: reddragon1 | June 11, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I want to see Brad Pitt reprise his role as Floyd (the roommate) in True Romance. He could keep his skeevy beard and it's one Brad role I would pay to see! not sure he's ever been funnier...

Posted by: Smitty19 | June 11, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

YES to Omar and Lafayette. Omar and Bubbles were both my favorite Wire characters. Those men can ACT.

Posted by: BansheeKLS | June 11, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse


John Locke and Creed Bratton are the same person so it's already covered.

Posted by: Roxie1 | June 11, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Bring back Melissa Leo (Detective Kay Howard on "Homicide") in her own series.

Either that or gimme Wallace Shawn in "Vizzini: The Later Years." You think he died of iocane poisoning in "The Princess Bride"? Inconceivable! That's what he WANTED you to think!

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | June 11, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

td, Yes! Yes! Yes! to Melissa Leo as Detective Kay Howard.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | June 11, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I'll go with Lucille Bluth from "Arrested Development" if they could somehow work Wilheminia Slater from "Ugly Betty" and the mother from "Two and a Half Men" in there. Can you imagine those 3 going at it?

Posted by: n8dc | June 11, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

The Cowboy from MULHOLLAND DR.

"There's sometimes a buggy."

Posted by: Ted_Striker | June 11, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Jimmy James (Stephen Root), from NewsRadio

Posted by: mattintx | June 11, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Sideshow Bob.

Posted by: jaygatsby27 | June 12, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget Ms. Garrett [Facts of Life] from Diff'rent Strokes.

The Jeffersons from All In The Family.

King of the Hill from Beavus and Butthead.

The Cleveland Show from Family Guy.

The Simpsons from The Tracy Ullman Show.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | June 12, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

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