You’ve seen him before. You know that guy… that guy from that one movie… he was in that thing. You know… And we do know. We all know. There are actors who stake their entire careers on being “that one guy.” Their bios describe themselves as “that guy” or “that guy from that thing.” They accept it, it’s their “thing” and it makes us love them all the more.
For war and action films, a few of these underutilized, gifted actors stand out above all others. Some even outshine the cast headlining their films. You know what I mean. Even if you don’t know their names, you know who I’m talking about.
1. Brian Cox
From playing Super Troopers’ highway patrol Captain O’Hagan to the numerous times he’s played Shakespeare roles, it should be obvious to anyone Brian Cox can be anything. He nearly kills all mutants as Col. William Stryker in X-Men II, leads the Greek siege as Agamemnon in Troy, gets tortured by Steven Seagal and freaking created Jason Bourne.
Also, how much cooler would Braveheart have been if this guy had more screen time?
His next war flick is the story of Winston Churchill in the hours leading up to D-Day. Awesome.
2. Keith David
You know Keith David. If any character actor can be considered as having a lot of time in fictional service, it’s Keith David. He was an integral character in the legendary war film Platoon, way back in 1986, and has since been a go-to for military roles.
While Enlisted wasn’t the greatest military TV show (it would be very difficult to top the undisputed champion anyway), no one lent it more credibility than Keith David’s role as Command Sergeant Major Cody. David’s characters are always out to make sure we get the job done. Finally, let’s face it, the guy knows how to wear the uniform.
If you don’t love Keith David now, you will. His next military film might become the military film of military films, Range 15 (starring WATM’s buds from Article 15 and Ranger Up!). Check out the teaser:
3. David Morse
David Morse, a Nic Cage and John C. McGinley companion, adds heart to his roles with the bad guys and chutzpah to his roles with the good guys. He always looks like a man teetering on the edge.
The Hurt Locker wasn’t his fault. If anything, it would have been a whole lot worse without him (FYI, he was Col. “Wild Man” Reed). He was moto in The Rock (even if the white camis were more than a little suspect), watching him pull his teeth out in World War Z was cringeworthy, and besides, he was the Father of our Country. Show some respect!
4. John C. McGinley
Probably best known as Dr. Cox on Scrubs and as one of the Bobs in the film Office Space, John C. McGinley may have eclipsed being “That Guy,” but as far as military films go, he’s definitely one of the “Guys.” He was in Platoon with Keith David, The Rock with David Morse and was also killed by Steven Seagal (“On Deadly Ground”), just like #6 Brian Cox.
But unlike those guys, he was in Fat Man and Little Boy with Paul Newman, Born on the Fourth of July, and Highlander II, where he is killed by none other than #2 on this list, Michael Ironside.
5. Michael Ironside
If you saw Total Recall as a child, then this man haunted your dreams as he did mine.
If that wasn’t enough, Ironside is also responsible for the the best scene ever filmed. Easily one of the greatest people ever cast for anything, Michael Ironside adds intensity to any situation. You probably know him best as Jester from Top Gun and in real life, Jester would have smoked Maverick.
Ironside is vaguely threatening and intimidating. He doesn’t shout. He doesn’t have to. You’ll know if you f*cked up, because he’ll tell you. And you will respect him for that.
If Michael Ironside was an actual military leader, ISIS would never have even started their sh*t.
6. William Fichtner
The first guy shot by the Joker in The Dark Knight, William Fichtner is probably the most recognizable on this list, even if his name escapes you. He’s number one for a very good reason, Sergeant First Class Sanderson in Black Hawk Down.
Yeah, he was an Air Force Colonel, an astronaut in Armageddon (with Keith David!) but Fichtner trained with Delta Force for the role as SFC Sanderson. He might be more qualified to fight a war than some people in the actual U.S. military. And when the Independence Day aliens return for the sequel, they can look forward to fighting William Fichtner.