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Why Doc Mullins From Virgin River Looks So Familiar

"Virgin River" fans have been worried about Dr. Vernon "Doc" Mullins (Tim Matheson). The moment things seem to be going better, he gets derailed by something else. He and Hope (Annette O'Toole) finally found a way to repair their marriage after a 20-year estrangement — even renewing their vows in front of the town. But then she gets in a car accident, resulting in a brain injury. Following this tragedy, his grandson (whom he didn't know he had) shows up in town. Luckily, the medication Doc has for his eyes is working, so he can check one thing off his list.

While the focus of "Virgin River" is on Jack Sheridan (Martin Henderson) and Melinda "Mel" Monroe (Alexandra Breckenridge), Doc is an integral part of the show. Many fans appreciate the show focusing so much on his relationship with Hope. "I really like seeing a loving relationship between two people their age," u/ApplesAndPants wrote on a "Virgin River" subreddit. "Most of the time, couples their age are not portrayed that way on TV shows."

Although Doc is part of the main cast of "Virgin River," this is far from his first role. You've probably seen him in one of many outstanding characters he's played during his lengthy career.

He played the son of Dick Van Dyke and Debbie Reynolds in Divorce American Style

Matheson made his film debut in 1967 as Mark Harmon, the teenage son in "Divorce American Style." Playing the son of actors Dick Van Dyke and Debbie Reynolds, Matheson may not have a lot of screen time in the film. Still, he helps move the plot along. In his next film, "Yours, Mine and Ours," he had the chance to play opposite Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. Matheson remembers the generous nature of the stars he worked with, telling movie fone, "They'd give them [other actors] parts and take care of them, and give them jobs and stuff — just how wonderful and gracious they were, and how talented! They could sing, they could dance, they could tell jokes, they could do it all."

Matheson started working in the entertainment industry as a teenager, guest-starring in wholesome family sitcoms like "Window on Main Street," "Leave it to Beaver," and "My Three Sons." He also ventured into voice acting, portraying the title character in Hanna Barbera's extremely popular animated series "Jonny Quest" and Sinbad Jr. in "Sinbad Jr. and his Magic Belt." Even after co-starring in successful films like "Divorce American Style," Matheson continued bouncing back and forth between starring in television shows and film.

Matheson learned a lot from Clint Eastwood in Magnum Force

A new decade meant that Matheson felt it was time to change things up again in his career. "It seems like about every six, seven, eight years you get a chance to open another chapter, open another door," he told movie fone. "I did Westerns. I did a bunch of cowboy stuff until I was in my mid-20s." He took on roles in the series "The Virginian" and "Bonanza," but it was the film "Magnum Force" that had the biggest impact on him as an actor.

As the first sequel in Clint Eastwood's "Dirty Harry" series, Matheson portrayed Phil Sweet, a rookie police officer who impresses Police Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan (Eastwood) with his accuracy in target shooting. Callahan chooses Sweet and another rookie, John Davis (David Soul) as backup for a raid. However, he also suspects the two are part of a group responsible for the recent murders. Matheson is proud of his work on the film. "[Eastwood} was the best listener I had ever worked with," he told We Are The Mighty. "He is totally listening to what I say and then I say what I had to say, and then he responded and changed one word that affected my next line...It was totally natural and totally spontaneous. I walked away at the end of that day saying, 'This guy is the real deal...wow.'"

Fans will always think of him as Otter

After co-starring in the western "The Quest," its two sequels, and a series alongside Kurt Russell, Matheson decided it was time to open another door, stating to movie fone, "I got tired of doing straight parts and I started doing improv, started doing comedy after "Animal House" — that was my first comedy — and each of those changes was risky and scary as hell."

Animal House" began a new chapter for Matheson, and remains one of his most popular films. In the film, he plays Eric 'Otter' Stratton — Delta fraternity's rush chairman and resident ladies' man. He used his smooth charm on anyone, even the roommate of a girl from an all-girls college: Otter pretends to be the fiance of the girl who recently died. "Animal House" ushered in the era of "gross-out" comedy and succeeded in making a star out of John Belushi, the only "Saturday Night Live" actor that wanted to be in the film (via EW). "He [Belushi] was one of the greatest guys, tremendous actor, wonderful improv," Matheson told We Are The Mighty. "Belushi set the tone of the film. John was just generous and loving and supportive of everybody and just great."

He was nominated for two Emmy Awards

After proving his comedic skills with "Animal House," Matheson continued on his comedy hot streak, starring in Steven Spielberg's "1941" and Mel Brooks' "To Be or Not to Be." He began getting more roles as the leading man, starring in the TV films like "Listen to Your Heart" and "Warm Hearts, Cold Feet." By 1990, the 43-year-old actor received more roles in dramatic thrillers like "Harmful Intent" and "Midnight Heat." Again, he became ready for a shake-up in his career and took on the part of Vice President John Hoynes in "The West Wing" for seven seasons.

Matheson looks back on his time on "The West Wing" as a great experience, while also acknowledging how specific creator and showrunner Aaron Sorkin was when it came to the script and characters. "Thankfully, I had done Shakespeare and I knew how to study text," he told the Digital Journal. "Aaron would write with a specific rhythm, pace, and a flow to the way he wrote." Matheson was nominated for two Emmys for his work with the show. "It was incredible to be there with all of those talented actors, and that amazing writing team," he said.

He played the town doctor in The CW's Hart of Dixie

Matheson continued his streak of political roles in the early 2000s, playing John F. Kennedy in "Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis," guest-starring as a judge on "Shark," and portraying Senator Webster in "Body Politic." He returned to the franchise that made him famous, playing Vance Wilder's (Ryan Reynolds) dad in "National Lampoon's Van Wilder." After reuniting with Ivan Reitman to play one of Eli's (Jake Johnson) two dads in "No Strings Attached," he surprised everyone by taking on the role of condescending Dr. Brick Breeland in "Hart of Dixie."

Matheson appeared in almost every episode of "Hart of Dixie" and the experience was much different for him. "Most of the time in my career prior to that, the previous 25 years, I was doing TV movies, I was directing episodic," he told Survived the Shows. "...So I'm jumping from job to job to job and you don't really get too close to the cast or crew of any show because you're only there for three weeks. This was a chance for me to develop long-term relationships with people that you enjoy spending time with."

While "Hart of Dixie" ended before he and the rest of the cast wanted, due to declining ratings, it's clear Matheson is proud of the show and the friends he made in the process.