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Why Ward From Outer Banks Looks So Familiar

Thanks to the ongoing war for eyeballs between streaming services, there's never been more to watch online than there is right now. And if there's one thing of which we can all be certain in uncertain times, it's that there will always be a legitimate bounty of binge-worthy content available on Netflix. With so many enticing options, however, you might be struggling to decide on what to watch next. If you're among the masses who have adventure on the brain (or if you're simply in dire need of some lavish beach scenery), Netflix has got you more than covered with their killer coastal crime saga, Outer Banks.

Set among the stunning, ocean-front vistas of North Carolina's famed coastal region, Outer Banks follows a group of wayward teens whose quest for summertime fun is interrupted when they discover a string of clues that may lead them to untold riches. So begins an action-packed adventure tale that plays as part missing-person thriller, part adolescent drama.

Key among Outer Banks' impressive cast of characters is Ward Cameron (Charles Esten), a wealthy local businessman whose connection to protagonist John B. and the treasure he's seeking plays a central role in the show's mysteries. You're going to have to watch Outer Banks if you want witness those mysteries unfurl, but if you're wondering where you've seen Ward before, trust us when we say that, if you've spent any time watching television in the past couple of decades, Esten's appearance here could trigger some déjà vu. Here's why Ward from Outer Banks looks so familiar.

Charles Esten played the hits on Nashville

The first thing you need to know about Charles Esten is that, while he's an accomplished actor with an impressive résumé, he's also a singer-songwriter of some renown, with a slew of country-tinged singles currently available on Spotify. Luckily for Esten, those two worlds collided in 2012, when he landed a small-screen role that also required him sing and play music on ABC's and CMT's beloved music city set drama series Nashville.

If you were among Nashville's fiercely loyal fanbase over the course of its six-season run, Esten likely needs no introduction. That's even more true the character he played, country crooner Deacon Clayborne. Esten appeared as Deacon in no fewer than 124 episodes of Nashville between 2012 and 2018, and was a featured player throughout, particularly due to his character's professional and romantic entanglements with series star Connie Britton's Rayna Jaymes. Though Deacon tended to operate largely in the shadows of the more famous folks around him on Nashville, Esten was more or less the most legit leading man the show had in its small screen run. He more than delivered the goods during his time in the Nashville spotlight, giving a frequently scene-stealing performance as Deacon that was every bit as charming and charismatic as it often was emotionally devastating.  

Charles Esten was a regular on Whose Line Is It Anyway?

In what proved to be a prophetic bit of casting given that Esten's career has largely unfolded on the small screen, his first gig was on a little-known pseudo-sketch comedy series titled On The Television. His comedic chops also played a part in the next step he took up the ladder, earning him a spot alongside some well-known comedians in a different sort of sketch series, this one a sort of game show that focused entirely on improv.  

The show in question is UK Channel 4's legendary comedy confection Whose Line Is It Anyway?. For those unfamiliar with Whose Line, the original series ran on Channel 4 for 10 seasons, and pitted four funny comedians against each other in a contest to see who could get the most laughs from improvised sketches. Over the years, the series has earned raves in its various incarnations, which also included a pair of mostly brilliant runs on U.S. television. 

Long-time fans of the series will tell you that the most prominently featured Who's Line Is It Anywayplayers were Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady. They'd also tell you the likes of Jonathan Pryce, Eddie Izzard, Phil LaMarr, and Stephen Fry made frequent appearances, as well. So, too, has Charles Esten, who made his first appearance on the show on the UK version back in 1992 under the much funnier name Chip Esten. Just FYI, he's made dozens of appearances since, and even won the show on a couple of occasions.

Before Outer Banks, Charles Esten was Jim's other boss on The Office

As it happens, Whose Line Is It Anyway? is not the only iconic comedy series Charles Esten has on his resume. In fact, the actor played a memorable role on one of the greatest comedy series to ever hit American television, NBC's winkingly meta workplace farce, The Office.

We're going to assume you're already familiar with The Office. That means you're aware that one of the long-running series more memorable plot lines hilariously unfolded in its second and third seasons, around the time Dunder Mifflin corporate bosses were looking to shutter one of their offices. The battle came down to the Scranton branch and a far more respected one situated in Stamford, Connecticut. That Stamford location was run by a young hotshot named Josh Porter, who was the better of Steve Carrell's Michael Scott in virtually every way. He also happened to play mentor to John Krasinski's Jim in The Office's third season, until a sudden and unexpected betrayal late in the game. Porter was portrayed by Charles Esten, looking decidedly less bearded than he does as Ward. Esten really could not have played the role better, infusing Porter with just the right amount of casual cool and smarmy ego.

Charles Esten played a Klingon on Star Trek: The Next Generation

Those of you who are already familiar with Charles Esten's sprawling small screen oeuvre (see also: Married With ChildrenPart of FiveERBig Love, and more), are still likely not familiar with one of the actor's earliest roles. Truth is, we wouldn't have recognized him either due to the extensive make up effects he was forced to wear for the part. But if you want to get a look at Esten in the early days of his career, you're going to want to check him out as a young Klingon named Divok on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Esten made his Star Trek appearance late in the show's sixth season, and featured prominently in the episode titled "Rightful Heir." That episode found a typically cantankerous Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn) doing some serious soul searching, and taking a sojourn to the planet Boreth to visit a monastery run by a devout group of Klingons. Esten's Divok is among the worshippers, and initially believes he's had an important vision of a powerful Klingon deity before sharing a similar vision with Worf himself, who unexpectedly summons the deity in the flesh.

In all, Esten's Star Trek: The Next Generation appearance was brief, but still quite memorable in the context of Worf lore. As it happens, he must have struck a chord with Star Trek creatives as well as he turned up a couple of years later for another one-off role (this time sans make up) in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager