The Unknown Actors That Have Been In All Your Favorite Movies


No matter which movie or TV show you watch, you will always come across the same actors and actresses that appear time and time again on your screens – but you just can’t place them in the world of Hollywood. They’re not Tom Cruise, they’re not Nicole Kidman… so who on earth are they?!

Jenna Elfman

Now, this is a face you will probably recognize, but did you ever know her name was Jenna Elfman? Well, now you do. This actress is largely known for her impressive role in 119 episodes of the popular comedy show, Dharma & Greg. Yet, she isn’t all about that TV lifestyle. She has also scored herself major roles in movies such as Dr. Dolittle, Town & Country and Love Hurts. She was even Justin Timberlake’s sister in Friends With Benefits! Lucky lady.

Jenna Elfman appeared within 119 episodes of Dharma & Greg and continues to act today

Billy Zane

Incredibly, Billy Zane has starred in major blockbuster hits over the course of his career. Most people remember this acting superstar for his role as Caledon Hockley in Titanic (y’know, the guy who was SUPPOSED to marry Rose – until Leo showed up). He also appeared in the first and second Back to the Future Movies, alongside a minor role in Twin Peaks. In recent years, he hasn’t put his name to anything special… but at least we now know he’s Billy Zane.

Billy Zane starred as Caledon Hockley in Titanic, before starring in Twin Peaks

Stephen Root

If you’re a fan of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (duh, who isn’t?) you’re probably kicking yourself right now for forgetting this guy who can dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge again. His role as Gordon on this movie sparked an interest in Stephen Root, and he has since continued to make a name for himself in the acting world, thanks to his role in the likes of King of the Hill and Get Out. This year, he will star in the new movie, Life of the Party.

Stephen Root made a name for himself in the popular comedy movie, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

Richard Jenkins

Richard Jenkins is the kind of actor who can say a lot with his face – which is probably why we can never remember his name! Nevertheless, this American actor has proved to be extremely successful over the course of his career. Not only has he appeared in Friends With Benefits, but he has also starred in popular (and scary) movies such as The Cabin in the Woods and The Visitor. He also stars in the new hit, The Shape of Water.

Richard Jenkins will soon star in the critically acclaimed hit, The Shape of Water

Garret Dillahunt

With his impressive ability to take on any accent thrown at him, we’re pretty sad to see Garret Dillahunt on this list… because we love him so much! This American actor has managed to score incredibly varied roles over the past decade or so, including a role in the Academy Award-winning hit, 12 Years a Slave, and a recurring role on the hilarious The Mindy Project. Keep an eye out this year, as Garrett will soon make an appearance on Fear the Walking Dead…

Garret Dillahunt will soon be appearing on the popular spinoff show, Fear the Walking Dead

Julie Ann Emery

Julie Ann Emery is the kind of actress who knows what she wants – and she does NOT want to work in the movie biz. In fact, she has only ever appeared in one movie of note! Nevertheless, she has definitely made an impact as a TV actress and has recently worked on projects such as Better Call Saul, Dexter, Bones, Suits, NCIS and more. In recent months, she’s even bagged herself a role in the popular TV show, Preacher.

Julie Ann Emery is known as a television actress rather than a movie actress

Jeffrey Wright

Although we can’t really place the name ‘Jeffrey Wright’ – the pieces all fit together when you see a picture of this actor. Over the course of his career, Jeffrey Wright may not have reached superstardom, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t appeared in anything of note. In fact, Wright has been offered major roles in major movies in recent years. He appeared in leading roles in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, as well as Casino Royale and Basquiat.

Jeffrey Wright has appeared in major movies, including Casino Royale and The Hunger Games

John Carroll Lynch

Despite the fact that John Carroll Lynch may not have people screaming his name all day every day, it’s fair to say that this actor has appeared alongside some of the biggest stars in the world of Hollywood – and that has to stand for something, right? Nowadays, most people know John for his super creepy role in American Horror Story as Twisty the Clown, but he has also appeared in movies such as Shutter Island and Gran Torino.

John Carroll Lynch is most known for his role in American Horror Story as Twisty the Clown

Barry Shabaka Henley

We’re actually a little surprised we don’t remember Barry Shabaka Henley’s name because it is so darn cool. Nevertheless, we do remember his face, and we do remember that he is a hugely impressive actor (go, Barry!) Over the course of his career, Barry has struck up a successful partnership with the director, Michael Mann. Because of this, he has starred in the likes of Luck, Miami Vice, and Collateral. He’s even managed to bag himself a role in the popular show, Better Call Saul.

Barry Shabaka Henley has collaborated with the director Michael Mann during his career

Mary Elizabeth Ellis

If you couldn’t tell by the huge name behind her in this photograph, Mary Elizabeth Ellis is most famous for her character in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (AKA one of the best shows ever created). Her time on the show catapulted her career into a new spectrum and allowed her to take her place on the sets of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Perfect Couples, New Girl, Happy Endings and more. She’s also appeared in the movie, Masterminds. Not bad, ey?

Mary Elizabeth Ellis first made a name for herself in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Neal McDonough

Considering many people can’t place his name, it’s incredible how many blockbuster hits Neal McDonough has appeared in since the early ‘90s (yep, he’s been acting that long!) Indeed, over the course of his career, he has put his name to major movies and TV shows such as Star Trek: First Contact, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Flash, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 and more. We can only imagine it’s onwards and upwards from here for this veteran actor!

Neal McDonough has appeared in major movies and TV shows since the early ‘90s

Beth Grant

Incredibly, Beth Grant has been working as a professional actor since the ‘70s – which means she’s been acting even longer than Neal McDonough! He better get his derriere in gear if he wants to beat her. Over the course of her career, Beth has appeared in hundreds of shows and movies… even though we still can’t quite place the name with the face. Yep, she’s worked on the likes of Grey’s Anatomy, Dexter, The Mindy Project, The Artist, and No Country for Old Men.

Beth Grant has been acting since the 1970s and has worked on major TV shows and films

Eugene Levy

Let’s be honest; we LOVE Eugene Levy – even if we didn’t quite know that was his name. Oops. Although he has appeared in various movies such as Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Astro Boy, Finding Dory, Taking Woodstock and American Reunion over the course of his career, most people remember him for his role in the American Pie franchise. Despite the fact that his character was called ‘Noah Levenstein,’ we all know him as Jim’s Dad.

Eugene Levy has appeared in major movies but is mostly known for his role in American Pie

Kathryn Hahn

Kathryn Hahn is the kind of actress who has appeared alongside some of the biggest names in the world of Hollywood and filmed some of the greatest comedy movies of all time – but she’s always been in the background. Yet, she seems to have finally been given a chance to shine in recent years and landed herself a leading role alongside Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell in the Bad Moms franchise. We can definitely expect to see more of this one in the future!

Kathryn Hahn has always been in the background but landed a leading role in Bad Moms

Gary Cole

If you’ve ever seen Gary Cole in any of his movies or TV shows, you can probably agree with us that Gary is one helluva guy – and not in the nicest sense of the word. Known for playing cocky and arrogant characters, he has appeared in the likes of Archer, Office Space, Veep, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and more. Thankfully, we can safely say that he’s NOT a doofus in real life. He’s actually rather lovely.

Gary Cole is known for playing arrogant and cocky characters but is different in real life

Erick Avari

If you were lucky enough to grow up in the ‘90s (AKA best decade ever), you’ll probably recognize Erick Avari. If you’re not old enough to remember the ‘90s (sadly, we do) you probably won’t recognize him – because he rose to fame a whopping 20-odd years ago for his roles in the likes of The Mummy, The X-Files, Independence Day and Alias. Although he is still acting today, he’s the kind of guy you’ll look at and think: “Hey, do I know you?”

Erick Avari is still acting today but is mostly famous for his work in the 1990s

John Slattery

You might be wondering where you have seen John Slattery in recently, and the answer is simple – you have seen him in EVERYTHING. Yep, John has definitely used these past few years to truly get into his prime, as he has built up an impressive resume of acting credits. In fact, he has appeared in the likes of Iron Man 2, Captain America: Civil War and Ant-Man. You could say he was a ‘super’ actor. Okay, we’ll stop now.

John Slattery has appeared in major Marvel movies over the past few years

Jon Lovitz

Jon Lovitz is the kind of actor we all know – but not by his name. Instead, his face and his voice precede him! Yep, his smiley face makes our heart so happy, but what makes us even more excited is how many shows and movies this guy has worked in. Over the course of his career, Lovitz has used his unique traits to fulfill his roles in Hotel Transylvania, The Wedding Singer, Coneheads, Big, and An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.

Jon Lovitz is known for his unique look and his hilarious voice and has appeared in major movies

Fred Willard

Despite the fact that Fred Willard is one of the most famous names on this list, there are still those of you out there who just can’t remember his name at all! Tut tut. Amazingly, this actor made his professional debut in the ’60s and has not looked back since. While he spends most of his time on smaller projects, Fred has still added a whole host of blockbuster movie credits to his name, including American Wedding, Anchorman, and Wall-E.

Fred Willard has been a famous actor since the 60s and has appeared in Anchorman

Kate Burton

There are some actors and actresses who stick to either movies or TV shows – and Kate Burton is the kind of actress who spends all of her time working on TV sets. Over the course of her career, she has been nominated for numerous awards for her roles on the likes of Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and more. Yet, when she’s not on set, she does like to spend her time on the stage in various theatrical productions. Oo-er.

Kate Burton is largely known as a TV actress, known for her role in Scandal

Hector Elizondo

If you’re a fan of The Princess Diaries (you should be), you’re probably thinking ‘No. Joe’ in your head right now. Yep, fans will know what we mean. But did you ever know that the Queen’s Head of Security is actually called Hector Elizondo?! This actor has been around for a while now and has also appeared in major movies and shows such as The Lego Batman Movie, Runaway Bride, Pretty Woman, Beverly Hills Cop III, Chicago Hope and more.

Hector Elizondo has been acting for many years and appeared in The Princess Diaries

Larry Hankin

Larry Hankin is hugely popular in the world of pop culture – but not because of his acting talent. Although we all appreciate the talent that goes into this guy’s work, an internet meme has skyrocketed his face into the realm of internet stardom. Unfortunately, this means that very few people actually know Larry Hankin’s name. Nevertheless, we can rest easy knowing that Larry has starred in the likes of Billy Madison, Breaking Bad, Friends, Home Alone, Escape from Alcatraz and more.

Larry Hankin has since become an internet meme after his career as an actor

Heather Matarazzo

Ever since her professional debut in 1995, Heather Matarazzo has kept up a rather impressive acting schedule – yet we still can’t put the face to the name! As another Princess Diaries alum, this brunette beauty has also starred in major TV shows and movies, such as Law & Order, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot, Welcome to the Dollhouse, The Devil’s Advocate, Scream 3 and more. We will really work on remembering this name! We pinky promise.

Heather Matarazzo has been acting since 1995 and starred in The Princess Diaries

Judy Greer

There are some actors and actresses who find themselves stuck in the world of sitcoms. Of course, this isn’t a bad thing (we wouldn’t say no), but it can get a little monotonous. Nevertheless, Judy Greer can rest easy knowing that she’s been in just about every popular sitcom within the past decade. Yuh-huh, she’s bagged roles in Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, Arrested Development, and that’s just the start!

Judy Greer has made a name for herself within the world of sitcoms, including The Big Bang Theory

Dylan Baker

Dylan Baker is the kind of actor you always see in movies, but he’s always overpowered by the Hollywood big shots. Soz, Dylan. Yet, you’ve got to give the underdog credit for the impressive work he has done – as this guy has appeared in major motion pictures like Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Requiem for a Dream, Selma and so many more. Next time you come on our screens, Dylan, we’ll give you a round of applause!

Dylan Baker has appeared in major motion pictures but is often overpowered by Hollywood big shots

Giovanni Ribisi

Could there BE any better show than Friends? Well, it’s obvious the answer is no – but it’s also obvious where we know this guy from. For the most part, Giovanni Ribisi is recognized for his role as Phoebe Buffay’s brother in Friends, but it seems this actor has also worked on bigger productions over the course of his career. He’s worked on Saving Private Ryan, Avatar, My Name is Earl and even Lost In Translation. Bet you didn’t know that, ey?

Giovanni Ribisi is largely known for his role as Frank Buffay in Friends

Julie Gonzalo

Known for her beauty and her talent, Julie Gonzalo is the kind of actress you could never miss on your screen – but you just couldn’t quite remember her name! Although she is best known for her recurring role in Dallas, Julie Gonzalo also has a wealth of acting experience under her belt. She has worked on the likes of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, A Cinderella Story, Veronica Mars, Eli Stone, Drake and Josh, NCIS and more. We love you, Julie!

Julie Gonzalo has is best known for her role on Dallas, but has worked on various other productions

Geoff Stults

Ever the family man, Geoff Stults had the pleasure of working alongside his brother on the hugely popular show, 7th Heaven. Perhaps this brotherly competition is exactly why we can’t remember his name? If so, that kinda sucks. Yet, Geoff has still managed to keep up a rather impressive career and has since appeared in the likes of Wedding Crashers, October Road, Enlisted, J.Edgar, The Finder and more. We hope we’ll see more of this guy soon because we miss that facial hair…

Geoff Stults worked alongside his brother in 7th Heaven and has since appeared in major movies

Clea DuVall

Considering you don’t know her name, there could be a part of you that is underestimating Clea DuVall and her acting skills. Want some advice? Don’t do it, kids. Despite her lack of fame, Clea has put her acting talents to good use over the years and proved that she is more than capable of taking on the Hollywood big shots. In fact, she has managed to bag roles in shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Law & Order, Dangerous Minds and more.

Clea DuVall has made a name for herself in shows such as Dangerous Minds and more

William Fichtner

If you’ve seen Blades of Glory, you might be hissing at your screens right now – because William Fichtner’s character is not the lovable kind. Yet, it’s safe to say that William has used his acting skills and put them to the test in various roles. So much so that we can’t determine whether he’s a loveable rogue or a vicious villain! Over the course of his career, he’s starred in the likes of Independence Day: Resurgence, Crash, The Dark Knight, Prison Break and more.

William Fichtner has starred in Blades of Glory, Crash, The Dark Knight and more

Toby Jones

Let’s be honest, we just really want to walk up to Toby Jones and squish his cheeks – but we feel this may overstep the mark a little, considering he played one of our favorite magical creatures in the Harry Potter universe. Yep, Toby voiced everyone’s favorite free-elf; Dobby! In the past few years, the English actor has started to make his mark across the pond and has bagged himself roles in movies such as The Hunger Games, Captain America: The First Avenger and more.

Toby Jones voiced Dobby in the Harry Potter universe and has since made his mark in America

Margo Martindale

If you’re wondering who Margo Martindale is, you’re probably not alone. Although she has appeared in movies such as Hannah Montana: The Movie, The Hours and Million Dollar Baby, she has yet to obtain her shining moment in the world of Hollywood. She seems to have done a better job on television, though. In recent years, she has worked on the set of The Americans, Justified and more. Hopefully, she’ll get her chance to shine in the next few years? Fingers crossed!

Margo Martindale has worked on shows such as The Americans and Justified

Michelle Hurst

Michelle Hurst has been in the acting biz for decades, but it took her a long while to actually get the recognition she deserved. Luckily, she seems to be making her way out into the woodworks, thanks to her hugely popular role as Claudette Pelage in the first season of the Netflix hit, Orange is the New Black. Alongside this role, Michelle has also appeared in movies such as Frances Ha, Born on the Fourth of July and Choke.

Michelle Hurst rose to fame as Claudette Pelage in Netflix’s Orange is the New Black

Brooke Smith

If you’re a fan of Grey’s Anatomy, you’ll probably recognize this woman as Dr. Erica Hahn… but do you know her real name? Well, of course you do now that we’ve given it to you, but unfortunately Brooke Smith has had to deal with fans not knowing her real name for many years. And that kinda sucks. As well as working alongside McDreamy, Brooke has also worked on the likes of Interstellar, Bates Motel, American Horror Story: Asylum, and Ray Donovan.

Brooke Smith is known for her role in Grey’s Anatomy but has also worked on Interstellar

Mare Winningham

Although you might not have heard of this actress, the statistics show that you should – because Mare Winningham has been nominated for an Emmy Award a whopping seven times over the course of her career! As if that wasn’t enough, she has also been nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the 1996 movie, Georgia. Alongside this, Mare has also starred in the likes of American Horror Story: Hotel, The Affair, and Amber Waves. Recognize her yet?

Mare Winningham has been nominated for seven Emmy Awards over the course of her career

Dianne Wiest

Hold onto your hats ladies and gents, because you’ve forgotten the name of a two-time Academy Award winner! Yep, Dianne Wiest is a hugely successful Hollywood actress who has worked on major movies with some of the best filmmakers in the business. In the past, she has worked on movies such as Hannah and Her Sisters, Edward Scissorhands, Footloose, and Synecdoche, New York. It doesn’t get much better than that, but why can’t we remember her name?! We feel ashamed.

Dianne Wiest has won two Academy Awards and appeared in Footloose and Edward Scissorhands

Kim Dickens

If you’ve been alive and kicking since the ‘90s, you might know that Kim Dickens has been plodding along in the world of acting since then. Or, y’know, you might not know that. That’s okay too. Over the course of her career, Kim has put her name and her acting talents towards major movies such as Hollow Man and Gone Girl. In recent years, she has worked her way onto our TV screens in shows such as Fear the Walking Dead, House of Cards and Deadwood.

Kim Dickens has worked on major movies and TV shows over the course of her career

Noah Emmerich

Although we might not have been able to put a face to the name, we’ve always known that Noah Emmerich is a highly intelligent individual – and it seems we’ve been right all along, as Noah is actually a Harvard graduate! Despite his smarty-pants status, Noah has been able to play some pretty cool characters over the years and amassed an impressive acting resume to be proud of. He’s appeared in The Walking Dead, The Truman Show, Super 8 and more.

Noah Emmerich is a Harvard graduate and actor who has appeared in The Walking Dead

Milana Vayntrub

Although Milana Vayntrub is first and foremost an actress, it’s fair to say that her fame has not come from movies or TV show. Instead, she has made a name for herself as an advertisement actress. In fact, she is most known for her role as Lily Adams in the AT&T commercial. Since then, she has starred in the likes of ER, Californication, House of Lies and The League. Have you had the lightbulb moment with her yet?

Milana Vayntrub started off her career as an actress in AT&T commercials

Minka Kelly

You might be racking your brain right now trying to figure out where you know this actress; so what if we gave you a clue? Ever heard of Friday Night Lights? Yep, this actress starred in a whopping 50 episodes and helped thrust the show into stardom status. She has also appeared in major movies such as 500 Days of Summer and Charlie’s Angels. She’s worked alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood, so why is her name not next to them?

Minka Kelly starred in 50 episodes of Friday Night Lights and appeared in 500 Days of Summer