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Why Vostanik Sabatino From NCIS: LA Looks So Familiar

"NCIS: Los Angeles" is currently airing its 14th season of procedural action on CBS, making it one of the longest tenured spin-off series in the current small screen landscape. That may come as a surprise to many, as "NCIS: LA" is also a series that feels like its flying well under the radar these days. And given its enduring popularity, it'll likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

That's no doubt great news for the series' primary cast members, some of whom now boast more than 300 appearances in the NCIS universe. The same is surely true for its vast crew of recurring players whose characters continue to bring much needed color, comedy, and drama to the proceedings. Of those characters, few have brought as much color as the Special Projects Team's CIA frenemy Vostanik Sabatino. That wise-cracking Sabatino first entered the team's orbit in Season 3 of the series, and has since played a major role in some of their biggest cases. 

Over the years, Sabatino has become a bit of a fan favorite in the supporting cast of "NCIS: LA." Seems the series creative team also have a lot of love for the character, as they've been bringing him into the mix about once or more per season over the past decade. And thankfully, the actor who plays Vostanik Sabatino clearly relishes playing the part as well. His name is Erik Palladino. Here's where you've seen him before. 

Erik Palladino got his big break on ER

If you've turned on a television during primetime sometime in the past three decades, odds are you've seen Erik Palladino at work. The actor has, after all, been a regular small screen player throughout his career, appearing in many of the best series to grace the airwaves. That list does indeed include one of the biggest hits in the history of modern television, NBC's revered medical drama "ER."

The series is, of course, best known for helping make stars of George Clooney, Julianna Marguiles, Noah Wylie, and Maura Tierney, among many others. The series also launched the careers of countless other young stars, including Erik Palladino. The actor joined the cast of "ER" during its sixth season on the air. He did so as the brash young resident Dr. Dave Malluci. To call the character's 47-episode tenure tumultuous would be an understatement — throughout that run, the talented (albeit overconfident and mouthy) Malluci tangles with pretty much every doctor and nurse in the building before being handed his walking papers. 

Malluci was, understandably, a major source of drama on "ER" between season 6 and 8. But he was a regular source of intrigue as well, with Palladino's deft work in the role rarely allowing the character's off-putting cockiness to overshadow his humanity.

Palladino played a small but memorable role in HBO's Watchmen

After breaking out on "ER," Erik Palladino continued to score roles on primetime hits, boasting stints on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Criminal Minds," "Fringe," "Castle," and "Blue Bloods." Heck, he even scored a one-off gig on the original "NCIS" a few years before becoming a regular on "NCIS: Los Angeles."

Circa 2019, Palladino landed a small but memorable role in one of the most celebrated miniseries of the past decade. That show was HBO's "Watchmen," and Palladino's appearance came during one of its most thrilling episodes. Titled "This Extraordinary Being," the episode finds the series' central figure Angela Abar (Regina King) utilizing a powerful narcotic to relive her grandfather's path to becoming the legendary masked vigilante, Hooded Justice, the first superhero. Said path eventually explores the vigilante's torrid relationship with fellow crime fighter Captain Metropolis (Jake McDorman). 

Long story short, "Watchmen" features bits from a fictitious show-within-a-show, titled "American Hero Story: Minutemen." And on that show, during an interrogation scene where FBI agents try to leverage that relationship to bend the man they believe to be Hooded Justice to their will ... well, let's just say the man behind the mask doesn't take kindly to the offer. In case you didn't realize, that was indeed Erik Palladino portraying the vile Agent Art. And the actor was arguably at his cocksure best in a role that required a legitimately venomous display of unchecked hubris. 

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel found Erik Palladino flashing his funny side

"Watchmen" is not the only cable TV hit Erik Palladino has appeared on in recent years. While the political themes of "Watchmen" made uneasy use of his near unhinged overconfidence, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" largely utilized it for laughs. If you've yet to catch up to the 1950s set dramedy, it follows the titular heroine (Rachel Broshanan) as she tries to make it as a comedian in the wake of her divorce. As you might expect, Miriam "Midge" Maisel's journey to stand-up fame puts her in contact with all manner of colorful characters. On occasion, that crew includes Nicky and Frank, a pair of low-level mob enforcers who eventually forge a friendship with Midge's agent Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein).

Portrayed by John Scurti and Erik Palladino respectively, Nicky and Frank have only been around for a handful of the series' 35-episodes. Despite that, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" creative team still makes stellar use of their talents, with Palladino in particular quipping his way to a few legit scene-stealing laughs. So solid is Palladino in the role one might easily lament the fact that Frank hasn't gotten a little more screen time on "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," but regardless, he has used what little time he has very well.