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Why Detective Frank Cosgrove From Law & Order Looks So Familiar

The "Law & Order" franchise created by Dick Wolf reaches back to the early '90s and spawned many spin-offs, including the arguably equally successful "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." With a universe that spans three decades and numerous shows, there are plenty of characters and legendary actors who have anchored the franchise. People like Jerry Orbach's 274 episodes as Detective Lennie Briscoe, Sam Waterson's 379 episodes as Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy, and S. Epatha Merkerson's whopping 391 episodes as Lieutenant Anita Aan Buren have held the franchise down since the beginning.

As the seasons come and go, however, so do many of the actors. Characters are written off, and new ones step into their place to continue the storyline. Detective Frank Cosgrove is one of the more recent characters to take on the worst criminals the city has to offer. Cosgrove is a product of the more old-school mentality. He tends to get highly abrasive when he is on a case, and his style is opposite that of his partner, Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson).

If you've been watching the series and trying to figure out where you've seen the actor playing him before, his name is Jeffrey Donovan, and he's been in some of the most beloved movies and series of the last two decades. Here's where you've seen Donovan before.

He led a small cast in a maligned sequel

With dozens of horror movies released yearly, originality can sometimes feel like a thing of the past. In 1999, "The Blair Witch Project" accomplished something few other horror movies have and began a new subgenre of film: the found footage movie. The film follows three documentary filmmakers as they search the woods for the urban legend of the Blair Witch only to disappear, leaving behind the footage on the abandoned camera equipment. The phenomenon grew and paved the way for films like "Paranormal Activity," "Cloverfield," and "Chronicle." With the movie setting an indie movie record profit at the time (via The New York Times), it was only a matter of time before a sequel was made.

The sequel, "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2," sees a group of people trek into the same woods to follow in the footsteps of the original three, with the film trying to capture the concept of the possible danger of ultra fan obsession. Jeffrey Donovan appeared as the guide of the group with a questionable past. The movie fell far short of recapturing the original's magic, and in an interview with We Live Entertainment, Donovan gave his thoughts on why:

"I think that the first movie was such a phenomenal success, it was really hard to even reach that bar. I think that what [director] Joe Berlinger was trying to do was tap into just this one thought, collective delusion. It was really an assessment of what can possibly happen with these kids if they all believed in it. Whether it succeeded or not, commercially or critically, is like with Shut Eye. It's not up to me. I can only do the best work I can and see if people like it."

He didn't need Will Smith's help to get a date

Dating in New York wasn't any easier in 2005 than it is now, but the film "Hitch" offered up a novel concept to find the partner of your dreams. Will Smith stars as Hitch, a "date doctor" who helps nice men who don't have a prayer in the dating world. When he meets gossip columnist Sara (Eva Mendes), he finds himself in the hot seat while helping Albert (Kevin James) woo his ultra-rich crush, Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta).

Not all of Hitch's prospective clients are nice guys, however. Jeffrey Donovan plays Vance Munson, a powerful Wall Street businessman who is looking to have a one-night stand with Casey Sedgewick (Julie Ann Emery) and needs Hitch's help. While the consultant turns him down in epic fashion, Vance achieves his goal and implies it was due to Hitch's help. This starts Sara's investigation into the date doctor, believing he is helping men manipulate women.

He was a burned CIA agent with a heart of gold

Imagine waking up one day and having every part of your identity stolen from you: no cash, no credit, no job history. That is the premise of the USA television series "Burn Notice," in which former CIA agent Michael Westen spends seven seasons investigating who burned him and trying to get his life back. Jeffrey Donovan played Westen for 111 episodes alongside Bruce Campbell's Sam Axe and Gabrielle Anwar's Fionna Glenanne.

One reason Donovan was so beloved as the character is due in large part to his commitment to the realism of being a secret agent. "It's really important that I keep it authentic," the actor told CinemaBlend. "And one of the things that I take pride is in that even though we shoot 16 episodes and it takes six months I actually train in the off[-]season ... to get ready for those 16. So I'm doing workouts in the weight room three days a week and then I'm doing mixed martial arts those other three days and on Sunday I rest. And it's really important that when I do something it looks like I can actually do it."

He held his own against a drug cartel

When you're in a movie with the likes of Emily Blunt ("Edge of Tomorrow," "The Devil Wears Prada"), Josh Brolin ("Avengers: Endgame," "Deadpool 2"), Benicio Del Toro ("Traffic," "Guardians of the Galaxy"), and Jon Bernthal ("The Wolf of Wall Street," "The Accountant"), it's easy to disappear in the background. However, Jeffrey Donovan found a way to stand out among the stacked cast in the film chronicling a drug war at the border, "Sicario," and its sequel. Donovan's character, Steve Forsing, is your basic, stereotypical CIA black-ops agent.

Donovan revealed in an interview on the set of the sequel, "Sicario: Day of the Soldado," that he and the other stars did their own stunts, explaining that he jumped out of a helicopter with Brolin and Del Toro (via FilmIsNow Movie Bloopers & Extras). He also weighed in on the possibility of a third film in an interview with Filmhounds.

"I would love to say that a third is coming, but I have no knowledge. They're immensely popular films with an [sic] incredible casts, [and] I was very lucky to be a part of [them]," he said. "There were rumblings of a third, but I never saw a script, or heard of a third. But I would jump at the chance to do it again." Fans of the film series would no doubt love to see him grow the mustache and don the glasses once again as well.

He played two Kennedys

John F. Kennedy was larger than life when he was president in the early 1960s. He captured the imagination and love of the entire nation. The circumstances around his death only increased the fascination and intrigue surrounding him, and that has translated into numerous movies, documentaries, and miniseries. Jeffrey Donovan added his name to the list of the many actors who have portrayed the former president with the Woody Harrelson-led biopic of his vice president, "LBJ."

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Donovan talked about the difficulty of changing between very distinct accents from "Fargo" to "LBJ," saying, "I credit my dialect teacher, Deb Hecht. She helped me find the Dodd way of talking in that Minnesota Fargo accent, and then I had to break out of that to do Kennedy and to say that they're opposites is an understatement. ... What I had to do was completely change the way I physically made sounds, and when I first started to do that Kennedy speech, it sounded very Dodd-like. (Laughs.) It was so bad. I had a bad Fargo accent doing Kennedy. No one really wanted to hear it, my wife especially. She was like, 'Please stop talking like that.'"

"LBJ" wasn't the first time Donovan played a Kennedy. Five years earlier, he played his ill-fated brother, Robert, in Clint Eastwood's Leonardo DiCaprio-led "J. Edgar." In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he spoke about how unique their accent was and how hard it was to capture it.

He appeared in Wrath of Man

In 2021, director Guy Ritchie reunited with Jason Statham for the revenge thriller "Wrath of Man." The film follows H (Statham) as an organized crime boss going undercover with an armored truck service to orchestrate a face-to-face meeting with the robbers who killed his son in a botched heist.

Jeffrey Donovan plays Jackson, a former sargeant who, in an attempt to provide for his family, reunites his old unit to rob armored trucks. Donovan spoke to FabTV about his character's motivations. "Every criminal thinks they're not a criminal," the actor said. "I think that he has a lot more honor than most people, the way he treats his crew and treats the victims in the heists. But as with any good plan, it just goes horribly wrong."

Donovan, who then talked about the love he has for the cadence he hears in the dialogue of every Guy Ritchie film, had to stop himself from being a fan first. "I'm like a fan girl at the same time, and I'm also acting as a tough guy," he laughed. With a long list of tough guys under his belt, there was never a doubt he would pull it off.