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Why Nola Falacci From Law & Order: Criminal Intent Looks So Familiar

Given the enduring popularity of the small-screen franchise that spawned it, it's hard to believe "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" has now been off longer than it was on. Either way, it's safe to say that even more than a decade after the "Law & Order" spinoff ended its primetime run on NBC, it's still sorely missed by fans. 

Thankfully, just like its various franchise brethren, "Criminal Intent" has remained a regular presence in syndication and on different streaming platforms. So longtime fans looking to be dazzled by the crime-solving acumen of Robert Goren (Vincent D'Onofrio), Alexandra Eames (Kathryn Erbe), and their many allies will likely have several outlets available to do so for the foreseeable future. As those fans continue to watch and re-watch the ripped-from-the-headlines procedural action, they'll no doubt be surprised by how many familiar faces turned up on "Criminal Intent" over the years.

That includes the actor who, for five thrilling episodes, portrayed the hard-nosed Detective Nola Falacci on "Criminal Intent." That actor's name is Alicia Witt. Here's where you've seen her before.

Alicia Witt got her start as creepy kid #1 in David Lynch's Dune

Alicia Witt has been a working actor for almost four decades. You may not realize it, but she earned her first screen credit for one of the most talked-about movies of the 1980s. Unfortunately, much talk about David Lynch's 1984 sci-fi epic "Dune" wasn't particularly kind when the film hit theaters. Nor has it been overly warm in the decades since, with even Lynch himself regularly dismissing the film (per David Lynch Theater).

Still, "Dune" has become a legit cult hit over the years, with Lynch fans and those of the film's beloved source material embracing the often staggering vision of "Dune" despite its apparent shortcomings. Whether you love or positively loathe it, you have to admit Witt's work in the film is supremely unsettling. The then eight-year-old actor appeared in the film as Alia Atreides, the powerful, psychic younger sister of Kyle MacLachlan's Paul Atreides. Though Alia does not play a significant role in the movie, Witt more than makes the most of the fiery, blue-eyed youngster's often unsettling moments throughout, though she admittedly sometimes looks like she's having way too much fun playing the part. 

Witt was a key player in the impressive ensemble cast of Cybill

As it was, Alicia Witt took a few years off after her "Dune" experience, resurfacing a few years later to re-team with David Lynch for a brief turn as Gersten Hayward on "Twin Peaks" (a role she'd reprise for the series' 2017 return). From there, the 1990s proved particularly fruitful for the teenage actor, who made memorable appearances in era staples like "Four Rooms," "Mr. Holland's Opus," and "Citizen Ruth."

Witt landed what was, perhaps, her highest profile role of the decade, however, in 1995 when she joined the genuinely impressive ensemble cast of the CBS sitcom "Cybill." Produced by future "The Big Bang Theory" mastermind Chuck Lorre, that series fronted the great Cybill Shepherd portraying a comically fictionalized version of herself. At one point or another, the show also featured the talents of Christine Baranski, Peter Krause, Tom Wopat, Jane Kaczmarek, and Charles Durning.

As for Witt, she played Shepherd's whip-smart and fiercely opinionated teenage daughter Zoey Woodbine in all 87 episodes of "Cybill." And if you've seen her at work on the show, you know Witt was a regular scene-stealer, even among her seasoned cast mates.

Urban Legend made Witt a '90s final girl legend

The final episode of "Cybill" aired in 1998, and that same year Alicia Witt earned arguably the most significant big-screen role of her career. That role came in the slasher hit "Urban Legend" and earned the actor some seriously legit final girl street cred. If you never caught up to "Urban Legend," it was very much a slasher cut from the same precocious teen cloth as 1996's era-defining "Scream." The film even boasted a similarly stacked ensemble cast of hot young actors, including Jared Leto, Rebecca Gayhart, Joshua Jackson, Michael Rosenbaum, and Tara Reid.

Most of that cast was second-billed to Witt, who fronted the action as Natalie Simon, a coed who, along with her schoolmates, becomes the target of a demented killer that starts offing them under the guise of urban folktales. Though the film boasts maybe one of the better horror movie openings of the decade, both audiences and critics were generally unimpressed with much of the action that followed. Still, "Urban Legends" earned a better-than-solid $72 million at the box office (per Box Office Mojo) and remains both a cult-hit creeper and a regular late-night screener. And in case there was any question, Witt is quite good in the film despite some subpar scripting.

Alicia Witt has become a Hallmark Christmas queen

A glance at Alicia Witt's resume since 1998's "Urban Legend" will produce some impressive credits on screens, big and small. That list includes roles in films "Vanilla Sky," "The Upside of Anger," and "88 Minutes," as well as lauded series like "Friday Night Lights," "Justified," "The Walking Dead," and "Orange is the New Black." But even as impressive as those titles are, it's safe to say the Hallmark Channel has had a far more significant impact on Witt's career in the last decade.

Over that span, the actor has become one of Hallmark's unofficial Christmas movie queens (a la Lacey Chabert and Danika McKellar), appearing in no fewer than seven holiday-themed films for the greeting card company, starting with 2013's "A Very Merry Mix-up." There's little question those Hallmark flicks don't offer Witt quite the sort of character deep-dives many of her past projects have. But the actor enjoys indulging in all the shamelessly gooey schmaltz that such projects require. And we dare say Witt's presence has legitimately elevated some of those holiday offerings well above their overly mushy storylines.