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Why These Fast And Furious Franchise Actors Look So Familiar

Since first speeding onto big screens in a hail of tire smoke and crumpled steel almost two decades ago, the Fast and Furious franchise has become a legitimate force at the global box office. Over that period, the first eight films in the series have shockingly brought in north of $5 billion. With at least two more Fast & Furious films on the way — and the series' first spinoff film, Hobbs & Shaw, finally crashing into theaters — that box office take is only going to get bigger.

While fans of the series continue to lap up the franchise's endless onslaught of shameless bombast, humorous banter, and macho posturing, there's little doubt that the veritable A-team of action stars that comprise the series' central cast — including Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Dwayne Johnson, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, and the late Paul Walker — has played a major role in selling tickets for the giddily over-the-top action series. 

Still, producers on the Fast & Furious movies have surrounded their stars with a compelling collage of supporting players. Though they may not all be as recognizable as a Charlize Theron (The Fate of the Furious) or a Kurt Russell (Fast 7, Fate), that supporting cast has featured more than a few familiar faces over the years. Here's why these actors from the Fast and Furious franchise look so familiar. 

Vanessa Kirby (Hobbs & Shaw)

True fans of the Fast and Furious franchise know that family (extended and otherwise) is a vital part of the series' overarching narratives. That's as true for Jason Statham's reformed villain Deckard Shaw as it ever was for the heroes. It should come as little surprise, then, that family plays a big part in Hobbs & Shaw as well, with Helen Mirren reprising her Fate of the Furious role as Shaw's big bad mom, Magdalene. Also joining the fray is Vanessa Kirby, who plays Shaw's ass-kicking MI-6 agent sister, Hattie — who also happens to be hitting it off with her big brother's heated rival/pal Luke Hobbs to boot. 

Though Kirby's face may be a little less familiar than some of the other F&F supporting players, there's little doubt you've seen it in recent years. The up-and-coming Brit first caught the eye of many moviegoers opposite Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, and Margot Robbie in 2013's time-traveling romantic dramedy, About Time. That role led to Kirby landing a seven-episode arc in UK TV's underrated series The Frankenstein Chronicles. It was Kirby's post-Frankenstein role that would prove her breakthrough, though, with the actor claiming the role of Princess Margaret on Netflix's beloved royal series The Crown

If you happened to miss her in those productions, there's little doubt you caught her going toe-to-toe with Tom Cruise as the White Widow in 2018's pitch-perfect action bonanza Mission Impossible: Fallout. Clearly, Kirby's is a star very much on the rise, and Hobbs & Shaw will certainly continue that trend.

Idris Elba (Hobbs & Shaw)

When the first trailer for Hobbs & Shaw dropped, fans wary of the Furious franchise's first full-on spin-off (or perhaps a film built entirely around the incessant mugging of stars Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham) were likely a bit relieved that said trailer gave plenty of face time to the series' new heavy — an "enhanced" baddie by the name of Brixton. Thankfully, the film itself also gives its bruising "Black Superman" a fair share of screen time, and a handful of classic Fast & Furious style one-liners to boot. 

While we'd wholly support Idris Elba stepping into the cape to play the last son of Krypton, that casting news has yet to come. If you're wondering where you've seen Elba's face before, well, take your pick, 'cause the beloved UK performer has been popping up in productions big and small for a couple of decades now. Elba spent much of his career appearing in BBC productions like Absolutely Fabulous, The Governor, and Luther. Elba got a big break in the States when he won the coveted role of Stringer on HBO's groundbreaking series The Wire

From there, Elba's gone on to appear in everything from 28 Weeks Later and American Gangster to Pacific Rim and Netflix's Beasts of No Nation. He even snuck a seven-episode run on The Office into the mix. Of course, MCU fans should recognize Elba as Thor's Bifrost-guarding bestie Heimdall.

Shea Whigham (Fast & Furious, Fast & Furious 6)

As far as minor characters go in the Fast and Furious cinematic universe, there aren't many as minor as FBI Agent Michael Stasiak. First introduced the series' fourth offering, the bungling agent initially appeared as a by-the-book foil/punching bag (literally) to Walker's "I'm a cop when I feel like it" Brian O'Conner. The character returned in Fast & Furious 6, and pretty much served the same function. Regarding the man who portrayed Stasiak, you've definitely seen his face before. Actually, you've probably seen it a dozen or so times in the last decade alone, because Shea Whigham is one of the most prolific character actors around. 

Among Whigham's big screen credits are indie gems like All the Real Girls, Tigerland, and Take Shelter. Whigham also appeared in higher profile fare like The Wolf of Wall Street, Silver Linings Playbook, and the wildly underrated Bad Times at the El Royale — not to mention blockbuster fare like Kong: Skull Island, First Man, and Star Trek: Beyond. On the small screen, the actor has claimed key roles in Boardwalk Empire, Marvel's Agent Carter, Fargo, Vice Principals, and the recent Amazon series Homecoming. If you haven't seen anything Shea Whigham is in, you might not be watching enough movies and TV.

Cliff Curtis (Hobbs & Shaw)

On the topic of skilled character actors stealing scenes in less-than-vital Fast and Furious roles, you can count Cliff Curtis among them. Though you may not know Curtis' name, we're willing to bet you recognized the chameleonic performer in the crowd of Samoan faces once the action of Hobbs & Shaw made its way to the shores of South Pacific paradise. If you're still not sure who Curtis is, he played Jonah, one of the initially untrusting brothers to Johnson's Hobbs, who bravely fought beside his family in the film's bonkers Battle of Samoa scene.

Of course, we'd wager Hobbs & Shaw is hardly the first time you've seen Curtis' face on the big screen. The New Zealand-born actor has been popping up as a supporting player in big movies for a couple of decades now. Over that period, his credits have included arthouse hits like The Piano, Bringing Out the Dead, Whale Rider, The Fountain, and The Insider — which means he's logged scenes with legit cinema icons like Jane Campion, Martin Scorsese, Darren Aronofsky, and Michael Mann. He's also claimed roles in bigger-budget fare like Training Day, Sunshine, 10,000 BC, and recently appeared with Jason Statham in the giant shark farce The Meg. But odds are you know Curtis for his turn as the ill-fated would-be paterfamilias of the Clark clan in AMC's Fear The Walking Dead.

Joe Roman Reigns Anoa'i (Hobbs & Shaw)

Curtis was not the only familiar face among the Hobbs Clan in the Battle of Samoa, though. We're pretty sure savvy wrestling fans also noted the chiseled, well-known mug belonging to WWE superstar Joe "Roman Reigns" Anoa'i in Hobbs' familial crew. Though the legendary brawler has spent the bulk of his career unleashing punishing powerbombs and stinging Superman punches to foes in the WWE, the muscular performer may well be starting to look at what his professional life might become once his days in the ring are done. 

Like his Hobbs & Shaw co-star (and real life cousin) Dwayne Johnson, Anoa'i looks to be eyeing a career in the action movie realm. Of course, anyone who's seen Roman Reigns talking smack or throwing down in the ring is well aware of his natural charisma. While we don't get the full Roman Reigns effect in the wrestler's cinematic debut, we see enough in his turn as Mateo to imagine he'll be landing roles in action-forward fare for years to come. Hopefully some of those roles will come opposite his cousin, if only because it'd be fascinating to see them face off on the big screen.

Gina Carano (Fast & Furious 6)

Since the series' inception, Fast and Furious flicks have always featured their fair share of tough guys. But they've wisely surrounded those tough guys with a slate of badass women who can hold their own on the blacktop or in a brawl. But of all the Furious femmes, Michelle Rodriguez's Letty Ortiz has generally proven to be the toughest of the tough. So it was a bit of a surprise when Fast & Furious 6 found Letty more than evenly matched against a duplicitous ex-military tough named Riley Hicks. Though Letty ultimately got the best of her counterpart, the pair's battles throughout the film were some of the series's best.

While we'd never underestimate Rodriguez's skill and acumen in a fight scene, the impact of her Furious 6 throw-downs are greatly enhanced by the actor she's up against. That actor is, of course, the trailblazing former MMA champ Gina Carano. And if you don't know Carano's face from her time in the ring, you may well have seen it on the big screen via Steven Soderbergh's grossly underrated espionage thriller Haywire. As for where else you might've seen Carano, she delivered a memorable turn as Angel Dust in the first Deadpool movie. And if you missed either of those films, she'll soon appear in Disney's upcoming Star Wars series The Mandalorian.  

Eiza Gonzalez (Hobbs & Shaw)

We already mentioned there being few new faces to the Fast and Furious franchise in Hobbs & Shaw, and Eiza Gonzalez is one of the more prominent faces among them. Not that she plays a major part in Hobbs & Shaw — quite the opposite in fact. Gonzalez appears briefly in the movie as the Moscow-based insider who helps Hobbs, Shaw, and Hattie break into the heavily-guarded Eteon compound.  

Again, Madam M is a minor character in Hobbs & Shaw, but she definitely feels like the sort of character that could easily figure into future Fast and Furious narratives — a thought supported by the fact that producers cast a noticeable up-and-comer in the memorable role. If you're having trouble placing Eiza Gonzalez's face, then it's a safe bet you weren't paying close enough attention to the nefarious crew who rode into the heist gone bad at the end of Baby Driver — Gonzalez played Buddy's (Jon Hamm) tough-as-nails moll, Darling. If you missed Gonzalez in that movie, it's possible you saw her duking it out with Rosa Salazar's titular cyborg in Alita: Battle Angel. Of course, it's also possible you recognize Gonzalez from her small screen roles in True Blood or From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series.

Cole Hauser (2 Fast 2 Furious)

When The Fast and the Furious first hit screens in 2001, the street racing action saga shocked the cinematic world by becoming a bona fide box office hit. Not surprisingly, a sequel was quickly greenlit with the Vin Diesel-less sequel sending Paul Walker back undercover to take down a Miami-based drug kingpin. While the absurdly titled 2 Fast 2 Furious did well at the box office, it's widely viewed as the weakest link in the Fast and Furious franchise. It did, however, deliver a pretty solid villain in Cole Hauser's smart but not smart enough/dastardly but not dastardly enough Carter Verone. 

If you can't figure out where you've seen Hauser's face before, you should know he's another one of those intriguing Fast and Furious supporting players with an impressive list of credits to his name. Hauser cut his teeth on the indie movie scene, appearing in indie staples like Dazed and Confused, Good Will Hunting, and Tigerland. As it happens, Hauser's career took an action-oriented turn when he landed a key role opposite Fast and Furious frontman Vin Diesel in the low-budget sci-fi classic Pitch Black. Most recently, Hauser has delivered impressive work on the small screen too, appearing in the Lifetime drama The Lizzie Borden Chronicles and the Kevin Costner starring neo-Western series Yellowstone.

Mark Boone Junior (2 Fast 2 Furious)

Throughout its cinematic run, the Fast and Furious franchise has seen its share of characters break bad, then break good, and then break bad again. In 2 Fast 2 Furious, one of those duplicitous characters was Carter Verone's rat-tested dirty cop, Detective Whitworth. Played by equal parts sleaze and savvy by career supporting player Mark Boone Junior, the character opens the film very much in the pocket of the drug lord, but hangs the baddie out to dry when Verone pushes him a little too far. 

Just FYI, if you recognize Mark Boone Junior's distinctive face, it's because that face has been around a long time. The esteemed performer made his screen debut way back in the early '80s, and he's been stealing scenes on screens big and small ever since. Among the actor's 153 screen credits are appearances in films like Die Hard 2, Se7en, The Grey, and Batman Begins, along with notable turns in TV series like Carnivàle and The Last Man on Earth. Of course, he's best known for his six-season run as Bobby Elvis on Sons of Anarchy.    

Eddie Marsan (Hobbs & Shaw)

At the risk of beating the proverbial dead horse, Eddie Marsan is yet another beloved character who's taken a surprising turn in the Fast and Furious franchise. Marsan shows up in Hobbs & Shaw as the Russian scientist who created the potentially humanity-destroying Snowflake pathogen that made Brixton lane a veritable super-villain. As far as scientists go in the Fast & Furious series, Marsan has a bit more to do the most, and (via some surprising flame-thrower skills) eventually earns a suitably noble exit from the film. 

If you think you've seen Marsan's face before, we can all but assure you you have. In fact, you've probably seen it quite a bit, because the UK-based thespian has been racking up screen credits over the years, appearing in prestige fare like Gangs of New York, 21 Grams, Happy-Go-Lucky, and Vice, while still making time for more accessible works like Mission: Impossible 3, Hancock, V for Vendetta, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2, and the Robert Downey Jr.-fronted Sherlock Holmes films. That being said, fans of Edgar Wright's "Cornetto Trilogy" will certainly recognize Marsan for hist turn as Peter in The World's End, and he's also gotten some attention for his work as the other Donovan brother in the Showtime series Ray Donovan.

Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious through Furious 7)

These days, Gal Gadot's face is probably more recognizable than many of her former co-stars in the Fast and Furious franchise. It's important to note, however, that prior to her appearance in 2009's Fast & Furious, her future role as a certain ass-kicking Justice Leaguer was hardly even a possibility, because no American viewers had ever even heard of her. That all changed, of course, when she landed the role of the tough-driving crack shot who "isn't afraid to throw down." After joining up with the Toretto crew, Gisele fell for beloved Fast and Furious regular Han, and eventually met an equally tragic demise.

In case you've been living under a rock for the past few years, you should obviously recognize Gadot as the DCEU's Amazonian princess/warrior Diana Prince (a.k.a. Wonder Woman). Just in case you really have been existing peacefully deep inside the Earth for a few years, it's possible you'll recognize Gadot from a one-off appearance on HBO's Entourage, or for her film appearances in the underrated Tom Cruise actioner Knight and Day, or the Tina Fey comedy Date Night. But seriously, you do recognize her as Wonder Woman, right?  

Luke Evans (Fast & Furious 6 thru Fate of the Furious)

Over the course of the Fast and Furious franchise, Dominic Toretto and his ever-expanding crew have taken on all manner of underground kingpins and general ne'er-do-wells. Still, none of the series' long list of baddies have proven quite as bad as Luke Evans' Owen Shaw. If you've seen the last few Furious flicks, you're well acquainted with Shaw's many evil deeds as he's pushed the Toretto clan further than any foe ever has. You also know that his status is currently unknown, and that his family (including Statham's Deckard Shaw) is very much carrying on without him, so it's safe to assume he'll play a role in a Furious film or two moving forward.

Blessed with classic "leading man" looks and the acting chops to match, it seems like producers have been trying to make a star of Evans for quite some time, casting the Welsh actor in tentpole fare almost from day one in Hollywood. Evans' tentpole flicks include a lead in 2010's Clash of the Titans remake, a second-tier turn in Ridley Scott's forgettable Robin Hood, and a memorable performance as Bard — a.k.a. the smiter of Smaug — in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy. He also portrayed Dracula in Dracula Untold, and would perhaps still be playing the character if Universal's Dark Universe had gotten off the ground. Most recently, Evans has appeared as illustrator John Moore in the lauded TBS series The Alienist and as the vile Gaston in the live-action Beauty and the Beast.

Zachery Ty Bryan (The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift)

After briefly detouring from the realm of street racing in the underwhelming 2 Fast 2 Furious, the franchise got back to back to basics for its third film, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, though the results were equally underwhelming. Set largely Tokyo's drift-racing underground, the loosely-connected follow-up finds an American (Lucas Black) trying to make a name for himself among the "drifters." Yes, that's a very Fast and Furious sort of setup, and the results are less than impressive the third time around, with Tokyo Drift mostly being remembered by franchise faithful as the film that introduced the beloved character of Han. 

It's also remembered for one of the weirder casting coups the series has ever pulled in the appearance of Zachery Ty Bryan. Yes, that Zachery Ty Bryan. The very one who spent the bulk of his formative years playing the eldest Taylor brother on Tim Allen's long-running comedy series Home Improvement. And yes, it was very weird to see Bryan playing the smack-talking, car-crashing jock in the opening moments of Tokyo Drift, if only because he still looked so much like the kid from Home Improvement. As it happens, Tokyo Drift was not Bryan's only post-Improvement gig. The actor went on to appear in episodes of Veronica Mars, Smallville, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Burn Notice before turning his creative energy almost exclusively toward producing since 2009.