We’ve examined our 10 favorite outsized personalities represented by Streampix’s movie collection. Now it’s time to do the same on the TV side, from “Homeland” star Claire Danes’ remarkable stint as troubled teenager Angela Chase on the one-season-and-out cult classic “My So-Called Life,” to the multiple-award-winning Alec Baldwin run as network boss Jack Donaghy on “30 Rock,” these characters came into our living rooms, and made themselves perfectly at home. They may not have been the show’s stars, but in the cases of Josh Charles in “The Good Wife” and Rainn Wilson in “The Office,” they were second bananas every bit as integral to their series’ success.
Kyle Chandler as Coach Eric Taylor in ‘Friday Night Lights”: Chandler took home a 2011 Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, and probably deserved at least a couple more in the course of this critically acclaimed series’ five-year run as the morally strict leader of his high school football team and a compassionate, loving husband and father. Chandler has gone on to character roles in such award-winning movies as “Argo” and this year’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” upholding his image as man of unerring character. His wife on the series, played by Connie Britton, was no slouch, either, receiving two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 2010 and 2011.
Josh Charles as Will Gardner in “The Good Wife”: He’s technically a supporting actor to series star Julianna Margulies, but Charles’ Will Gardner provides the emotional center of the show, a thwarted lover who still wears his heart on his sleeve, even as this season’s raging war between the two resulted in Margulies’ Alicia Florrick leaving the firm to start up her own. Charles is probably best known for his roles in “Dead Poets Society” and in Aaron Sorkin’s short-lived TV series “Sports Night,” and has already received one Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his work in “The Good Wife” and a Golden Globe nom this year for Best Supporting Actor, Series, Miniseries of Television Films.
Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute in “The Office”: With his quasi-Amish upbringing, unorthodox methods of courting and cutthroat mentality, Wilson’s Schrute is perhaps the wackiest member of an expert ensemble that has its own share of outsized farceurs. He also gets extra points for having one of the most amusing and worth-reading Twitter account, which you can read here. Wilson’s won a pair of SAG awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series for “The Office” and has received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
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Terry O’Quinn as John Locke in “Lost”: Before J.J. Abrams and Damion Lindelof’s groundbreaking sci-fi allegory got lost in its own foggy pretensions and plot twists, O’Quinn provided much of its gravitas as the mysterious John Locke, who seemed at times to hold the key to what they were all doing on that island. He earned a well-deserved 2007 Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his brooding, but heroic, character, who provided the metaphysical, spiritual undertow, due to the “miracle” which took place for him upon the plane’s crash.
Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy in “30 Rock”: If anyone ever questioned Baldwin’s acting chops, that debate was laid to rest by the actor’s multi-award-winning stint in Tina Fey’s workplace comedy about her years at “Saturday Night Live.” Baldwin’s deadpan Republican played marvelously off his own liberal inclinations, and he served as a reality-check foil for his co-star’s often ditzy ways. Baldwin was rewarded with two Emmys, three Golden Globes and a record-breaking seven SAG awards for his role in the series.
Damian Lewis as Detective Charlie Crews in “Life”: Long before he was Nicholas Brody on “Homeland,” the English actor starred in this two-season NBC drama, which ran from 2007-’09, as a police detective released from prison thanks to DNA evidence after being wrongfully accused of the triple murder of his business partner friend and his family. Crews then attempts to go back to work for the force, though the cloud of suspicion still hovers over him in a role that neatly anticipates his career breakthrough, which earned him both an Emmy and Golden Globe award.
Sally Field as Nora Holden Walker in “Brothers and Sisters”: As the matriarch of the Pasadena clan depicted in ABC’s dramatic series, which ran for five years, from 2006-2011 Field launched an impressive comeback, earning the 2007 Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and SAG honors in 2009 for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series. Heading a sprawling, and very talented cast, Field proved the series’ moral compass as the character who tied all the loose ends together, whether running the family business, looking for love herself, dealing with her dead husband’s infidelities or fearlessly caring for her brood. Yes, she’s come a long way from “The Flying Nun.”
Mary McCormack as Mary Shannon in “In Plain Sight”: McCormack, probably most known for playing shock jock Howard Stern’s long-suffering wife Alison in “Private Parts,” proves adept at portraying a tough, but vulnerable, U.S. Marshal attached to the Albuquerque, NM, office of the Federal Witness Security Program, more commonly known as Federal Witness Protection. McCormack starred in the series, which ran for five years on USA before its final season in 2012. The role was a groundbreaking one in portraying a woman with more interest in her professional career than messy personal life, a result of childhood issues arising from her father’s gambling and mother’s alcoholism.
Barbara Billingsley as June Cleaver in “Leave it to Beaver”: For baby boomers of a certain age, the late Billingsley’s mom was the mother we all wished we had, the perfect ‘50s housewife, nurturing, but not afraid to speak up if she had to. Eddie Haskell had it right, always putting on the good face for the mother who knew best.
Claire Danes as Angela Chase in “My So-Called Life”: Yes, that’s right. Prior to becoming a neurotic, depressed, pill-popping CIA operative, she was a neurotic, depressed teenager longing for Jared Leto’s Jordan Catalano in the cult series created by Winnie Holzman and produced by “thirtysomething”’s Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, which ran for but a single year on ABC from 1994 to early ’95. Even with her adolescent angst, Danes’ Angela seems a lot more level-headed than Carrie Mathison does in “Homeland,” but it wouldn’t be a stretch to see the latter as what the former grew up to be.
Runners-up: Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson in “Parks and Recreation”; Kathryn Joosten as Karen McCluskey in “Desperate Housewives”; Keri Russell as Felicity Porter in “Felicity”; Jeffrey Tambor as Hank Kingsley in “The Larry Sanders Show”; Sandra Oh as Dr. Cristina Yang in “Grey’s Anatomy”