Why the cast of Mindhunter looks so familiar

In case you haven't heard, Stranger Things 2 isn't the only bingeworthy series Netflix released in October 2017—in fact, some might argue it isn't even the best show the streaming giant released that month. David Fincher's '70s-set serial killer drama Mindhunter arrived with less fanfare, but the "based on true events" series has proven to be just as addictive—and infinitely more disturbing.

If you've yet to take the Mindhunter plunge, the show follows a pair of FBI agents out to broaden the scope of criminal investigation by exploring the psychology of murderers. While the show's difficult subject matter and intense nature may not be to all tastes, it's one of the smartest shows Netflix—or any network for that matter—has ever produced. It's also chock full of actors that seem very familiar, so let's take a look at where you've seen those faces before.

Jonathan Groff - Holden Ford

There are differing schools of thought about Special Agent Holden Ford. On one hand, he's an intuitive, dedicated and brilliant young agent; on the other, he may just be a bully out for fame and glory. Jonathan Groff, who plays the role with equal parts blind hubris and honest naiveté, never makes it easy for viewers to decide. But either way you look at him, Ford is the figure that sets Mindhunters' complex narrative in motion.    

Fans of the HBO dramedy Looking caught an early glimpse of the actor's gifts in action when Groff played the central figure in the beloved but short-lived series, turning more than a few heads in the process—in part because of the show's risqué sexual content. Of course, savvy viewers will also recognize Groff from turn as Jesse St. James on the hit musical series Glee. And if his voice sounds eerily familiar, that's because you heard it when he voiced Kristoff in Disney's animated smash Frozen.

Holt McCallany - Bill Tench

Much like his Mindhunter counterpart, Holt McCallany is the embodiment of the "strong but silent" type. He's also had a long, distinguished career, which he's put together while staying largely out of the limelight. In fact, he's dotted his 30-year career with small but vital roles on screens big and small, including memorable turns in films like Casualties of War, Men of Honor, Sully and Gangster Squad—not to mention recurring roles on Heroes, Law & Order: SVU and CSI: Miami.

As it happens, Mindhunter isn't McCallany's first foray into David Fincher's orbit—he landed a key role in Fincher's directorial debut, Alien 3, and they reunited in 1999 when he played one of Project Mayhem's key minions in Fight Club. It seems only fitting that Fincher would be the first filmmaker to put McCallany's talents front and center—and it should come as no surprise that McCallany responded by delivering the strongest performance of his career.

Anna Torv - Wendy Carr

As the only certified psychologist on the Mindhunter team, Anna Torv's Wendy Carr is a bit of an enigma. She's the first person to realize the potentially far-reaching effects of her counterparts' research. She's thoughtful, insightful, and undeniably brilliant, and her stern, low-pitched voice demands she be taken seriously. But her academic background seems to skew her motivations toward the intellectual rewards of the group's research—i.e. published papers and book deals.

That Torv balances both sides of Carr with grace and unflinching strength is why the character resonates so deeply. Fans of the ratings-challenged sci-fi series Fringe already knew Torv could play that sort of duality; she brought the same intellect and intensity to her role as Olivia Dunham for five adventurous seasons of that series. But Torv has been very selective in her roles since Fringe, opting to appear in smaller projects like The Daughter and this year's under-seen horror flick Stephanie. It's nice to finally see her in a show people are watching—here's hoping this is just the start.

Hannah Gross - Debbie Mitford

In most detective dramas, Debbie Mitford would be little more than a chippy subplot of a character for a tough as nails agent on the scent of a big baddie. Luckily, Mindhunter is not your typical crime drama, and David Fincher has always had a place for strong female characters. In the hands of Hannah Gross, Mitford is smart, funny, sexy and wildly intelligent, the poster child for the modern woman and a force to be reckoned with. She also happens to be the character who puts Holden Ford on the route to studying the psychology of criminals.

Mindhunter may well be most viewers' first contact with the actress, but fans of low-budget cinema will certainly recognize Gross as an indie film vet. Her first feature film, I Used To Be Darker, was a bona fide Sundance smash, as was her non-traditional holiday flick Christmas, Again a couple years later. If you're an indie rock fan, you might also know Gross through a couple of trippy music videos for psych rockers Psychic Ills. And she can currently be seen opposite Jon Hamm in one of 2017's best-reviewed films, Marjorie Prime.

Cotter Smith - Unit Chief Shepard

Cotter Smith has one of those stoic faces that screams "federal agent for life," and he uses those features to maximum effect in Mindhunter. His Unit Chief Shepard is an old school agent who's more than a little uncomfortable with Ford and Tench's bold new approach. He's also the man in charge of checking those methods to make sure they jibe with the FBI's overall mission. That requires equal parts knowing cynicism, metered wit and tough-guy machismo.

Smith is more than up to that task. The actor has been working in film and television for nearly 40 years, booking his first major roles in '80s staples St. Elsewhere and Hill Street Blues. He's been a steady presence in television since appearing everything from Judging Amy to the now-canceled Revolution—not to mention a bit part on House Of Cards, where he caught David Fincher's eye. Though we'd prefer to think Fincher took notice of Smith for his yeoman's work on the The Americansthe best TV series you probably aren't watching.

Cameron Britton - Edmund Kemper

Cameron Britton is certainly one of the lesser-known commodities on Mindhunter, but his performance as Edmund Kemper—a.k.a. "The Coed Killer"—is the very definition of "scene-stealing." Kemper's psychotic-yet-charismatic presence somehow bleeds through ever single moment of the series, and it's easy to assume Fincher wanted a newer actor to step into the troubling role. He hit paydirt when he found Britton—perhaps because he was a fan of Britton's ABC Family sci-fi series Stitchers? Or maybe he caught the one episode of Vince Gilligan and David Shore's Battle Creek Britton appeared in. Either way, we're glad Fincher found him—even if Britton's performance still gives us the willies.

Alex Morf - Detective Ocasek

There are a lot of supporting characters in Mindhunter's 10-episode first season. Even the most briefly seen players bring something to the action—and few brought as much as Alex Morf's small-town lawman Detective Ocasek. Morf appears in only three episodes, but his character still feels fully formed and completely believable; it's not surprising when Ocasek helps Ford and Tench break a major case. 

If Morf seems familiar to you, it's probably because he already shared screentime with Ethan Hawke and Greta Gerwig in Maggie's Plan, James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men, and Robert Duvall and Sam Shepard in In Dubious Battle, and he also traded blows with the Devil of Hell's Kitchen in Netflix's Daredevil series—a tussle that led to one of the series' more brutal moments.

Joseph Cross - Benjamin Barnwright

The case that Morf's Detective Ocasek assists on is one of the more disturbing in Mindhunters, and Joseph Cross' Benjamin Barnwright is right in the middle of it. It's eventually uncovered that his finicky nature was keeping a more sinister urge at bay—one that leads to an unexpectedly gruesome event.

Cross has been acting since he was a child, catching his first big break as the star of M. Night Shyamalan's pre-Sixth Sense feature, Wide Awake and starring opposite Michael Keaton in the unintentionally creepy family flick Jack Frost. Cross would later portray a young Augusten Burroughs in Running With Scissors, share screentime with Sean Penn in Milk, and portray Abraham Lincoln's personal secretary in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln. And all that before he turned up as Tom, everyone's favorite barista, in HBO's Emmy-winning Big Little Lies.

Catherine Curtin - Mrs. Ruth Barnwright

Catherine Curtin appears as Benjamin Barnwright's downtrodden mother, and although she's seen in just a single scene, it's a study in raw emotion that—like much of the rest of Mindhunter—is also darkly humorous. It's a testament to Curtin's skill that none of those conflicting emotions are lost in the mix.

Over the years, Curtin has appeared in dozens of films, including Revolutionary Road, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, and 2016's Catfight. But she's best known as the straight-faced, wise-cracking prison guard Wanda Bell on another Netflix hit, Orange Is The New Black. Oh, and did we mention she just turned up as Dustin's feline-adoring mother on season 2 of Stranger Things?

Joe Tuttle - Gregg Smith

Joe Tuttle brings a certain affability to Agent Gregg Smith, the goody-goody, wanna be tough guy who brings a world of trouble to the Mindhunter team. It's the only reason we don't outright despise the two-faced agent, and it's also what gives the character character a necessary third dimension. Tuttle hasn't appeared in much as of yet, but if you're a fan of daytime TV, you might have seen his face on As The World Turnsthat is, if you pay attention to background characters with names like "Lab Tech" and "Orderly." It's far more probable that you recognize him from his two-episode run in Martin Scorsese's HBO series Boardwalk Empire. Either way, it's likely he'll be calling Mindhunter his big break in years to come.

Sonny Valicenti - ADT Serviceman

Mindhunter is one of those shows that takes a distinctively "less is more" approach to drama. After all, it's a series about gruesome murders and serial killers—more or less—but features almost no blood or violence. About 95 percent of the action consists of characters sitting around drinking coffee and talking about serious, sinister stuff. One of the few characters that manages to stay out of the verbal sparring is Sonny Valicenti's ADT Serviceman.

The character has almost no dialogue in Mindhunter despite appearing briefly in eight episodes. That said, his character is undoubtedly up to no good, almost always appearing alone while stalking though suburban homes and landscapes and casting an ominous shadow over the entire series. We can only imagine that the Mindhunter crew will eventually catch up with the ADT man. But if you're wondering where you've seen Valicenti's face before, it was likely as Dean, one of the ne'er-do-wells in last year's Office Christmas Party.

Happy Anderson - Jerry Brudos

Like Cameron Britton, Happy Anderson was one of the Mindhunter actors tasked with portraying a real-life serial killer, and he made just as much of an impact as the psycho-sexually twisted necrophiliac Jerry Brudos. Without spoiling much, let's just say viewers will never look at a stiletto heel quite the same way.

While you probably won't recognize Anderson on first sight, you've definitely seen his face before: he's appeared in a dozen or so TV shows already, including White Collar, Boardwalk Empire, Gotham, and The Knick. Anderson has also had small parts in indie flicks like Blue Caprice, Cold In July and The Comedian (where he got to heckle the one and only Robert De Niro). He'll next appear opposite Will Smith in Netflix's sci-fi drama Bright.

Peter Murnik - Detective Carver

Sometimes typecasting is a good thing, and Peter Murnik is proof: the veteran actor has made a career of portraying hard-ass law men, military types, and all-around tough guys. Few of those characters are as memorable as his Detective Carver, the confounded small-town detective he portrays in Mindhunter. When Ford and Tench fail to provide insight to a working particularly nasty murder case Carver is working, his tough guy comes out—much to the chagrin of the would-be FBI profilers.

It's a confirmation of Carver's talent that his frustration never comes across as grandstanding or pandering, and that viewers inherently feel it with him. But that should come as no surprise—Murnik has been drawing viewers in for decades now with recurring roles on popular series like JAG, Justified, and the Stephen King adaptation The Mist.

Stacy Roca - Nancy Tench

Just as every detective series has a "strong, silent type" detective with an established career, those cops usually have a neglected yet understanding wife waiting at home. For Mindhunter, that role falls to Stacy Roca, whose Nancy Tench spends much of the series raising her and Bill's adopted son with almost no help. She's the very definition of long-suffering, but Roca plays the part with such warmth that even her shriller moments come across as humanizing. As a result, Nancy never feels like a stock character, and Bill feels all the more human for it.

Mindhunter is Roca's first exposure to American audiences, but the actor has been working steadily in the U.K. for years now, most recently appearing in the BBC crime drama Waking The Dead. Many viewers will recognize Roca from her stint as Rachel in Season 2 of Ricky Gervais' The Office.

Lena Olin - Annalise Stilman

Lena Olin has been working in film for over 40 years now, and has even been nominated for an Academy Award along the way. It's almost a shock when she turns up in a single episode as Anna Torv's arrogant, manipulative lover; we were hoping to see a little more form Olin on the show, even if there wasn't much need for the character to become a regular.     

As for where you've seen Olin before, well, take your pick. The Swedish actor has been in dozens of films over the years—e.g. Fanny and Alexander, Romeo Is Bleeding, Mystery Men, Chocolat—and brought a compelling duality to her role as Sydney's long-lost mother Irina on TV's Alias. But if you're looking for the role that almost won her an Oscar, it came opposite Anjelica Houston in 1989's Enemies: A Love Story.