I was pleasantly surprised to see Robert Wisdom make an appearance on “Burn Notice” last night. (Don’t worry, no spoilers ahead. But if you’re really worried about “Burn Notice” spoilers, you may want to consider reevaluating your recent life choices.) He played one of my favorite characters on “The Wire,”and I really hadn’t seen him in much else since.
It struck me how a lot of the dramas on USA, TNT, and FX have cast actors who were already identifiable with another role. My beloved Kelly Kapowski is on “White Collar,” Lt. Harris from Police Academy is on “The Closer,” Shane from “The Shield” plays Boyd Cowder on “Justified,” and of course Ash Williams from The Evil Dead plays Michael Weston’s accomplice in “Burn Notice.” Then last night during USA’s block of original programming, they were running ads for a new show that starred the chick from Coyote Ugly, and featured Sandy Cohen from “The O.C.” and Wilson’s dead ex-girlfriend from “House.”
I think that’s cool. It’s gotta suck being identifiable enough with a past role that it affects your future employability, especially when that past role wasn’t something you could retire on. I understand why producers may be hesitant to cast them, though. Some people just won’t accept them as anything but the role they are most associated with. These idiots will do things like write blog posts where they refer to the actors only by the names of their past characters. Or post a video of Kelly Kapowski’s cheerleading clips from “Saved by the Bell” in the same post where they talk about how important it is that people stop associating actors only with the role that made them famous (a video that originally had the embedding turned off, so they downloaded it from YouTube, laid music over it, and re-uploaded in their own YouTube account). These people are sad, small minded idiots.