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Why Lamplighter From The Boys Looks So Familiar

As a scathing critique of what it means to be a superhero, The Boys is a show that doesn't tend to pull its punches — literally, or metaphorically. Sure, if superheroes were real, goodhearted folks like Superman and Spider-Man, they would be nice to have around, but characters like Homelander (Antony Starr) and A-Train (Jessie Usher) from The Boys — I.E., heroic on the outside, but corrupt and selfish on the inside — would be just as likely to pop up, and everyone else would have to pay the consequences for their power.

The actors and actresses behind these "heroes" (and those trying to stop them) understand that notion, and do a pitch-perfect job of bringing out the worst from those who are supposed to be the best. Some of the more well-known faces include Simon Pegg and Jack Quaid, but there's also Shawn Ashmore — who portrays Lamplighter, a character only mentioned in the first season, but who appears in the second — and while you know his face, it might take a second or two to figure out where you saw him before. Here's why this Canadian actor looks so familiar.

Ashmore has played a superhero before

Strictly speaking about superpowers, Lamplighter is reminiscent of Green Lantern, in that he can create whatever he imagines — the difference being that the latter manipulates energy using a ring, while the former shapes fire using a staff. Years before The Boys, though, Ashmore rather ironically played a superhero on the opposite side of the thermometer: Bobby Drake, AKA Iceman, the young X-Man capable of generating and manipulating ice. Who would've guessed? 

All jokes aside, Ashmore's Iceman contributed much to the X-Men film franchise, which itself contributed much to paving the way for modern superhero media, The Boys included. While Iceman's powers were fun to watch, on their own, his character also was involved in important relationships with Rogue (Anna Paquin) and Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), as well as engaging in a fun-to-watch rivalry with the fire-powered mutant Pyro (Aaron Stanford). Fans might've spent the entirety of the first two movies waiting for him to encase his body in ice, ala the comics, but at least when it finally happened, it was suitably epic. 

Following his noteworthy role throughout the original X-Men trilogy, Ashmore returned for the dystopian future sequences of X-Men: Days of Future Past, his biggest moments happening before Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) time-travels to save the future. Beyond that, Ashmore reprised his role as the frosty mutant in The Super Hero Squad Show, and X-Men: The Official Game. Needless to say, the man has more than enough superhero acting experience to fill Lamplighter's shoes.

Ashmore toyed with time in Quantum Break

It's amazing (and a little scary) just how far motion capture (or mocap) technology has come, now that professionals are able to basically replicate an actor's likeness and translate it to screen. 2016's Quantum Break employs mocap as most cinematic video games do, but it goes one step further, with its inclusion of actual live-action cutscenes. Though it may have been jarring to some to suddenly be thrust into what's essentially a television show in the middle of a video game, the actors do a fine job on both fronts.

Ashmore is one of those actors, starring as Quantum Break's protagonist, Jack Joyce. Proficient with firearms and able to mess around with time, Joyce is a force to be reckoned with in a much different way than Lamplighter or Iceman. Players have complete control over all this, meaning Ashmore had to spend quite a bit of time performing all of the character's possible movements and delivering all the lines — nearly two years, in fact. It turned out to be well worth the effort, as the acting performances of Ashmore and others truly bolstered Quantum Break's complex narrative.

Ashmore was a hero with no powers in The Following

While playing a super-powered mutant like Iceman, or a time-bending hero like Jack Joyce, surely has its own perks, many actors agree that sometimes, it's nice to just come down to earth and escape green screens. Ashmore did just that when he starred as Mike Weston, an FBI agent, in the TV series The Following. 

This time, nothing more than Ashmore's thespian talents and a prop gun were required on set. Starring alongside the legendary Kevin Bacon, Ashmore's Weston plays a pivotal role, helping to hunt down serial killers, uncover cults, and do all manner of good across the show's three seasons. Of course, all work and no play makes Mike a dull boy: he also strikes up a relationship with Bacon's character's niece, NYPD detective Max Hardy (Jessica Stroup). Nothing like a little interdepartmental romance to spice things up. The actor had already done plenty of television roles up to that point — from miniseries like Earthsea to TV films like Terry — but his stint as Weston was arguably one of his finest performances. 

Whether Ashmore's next role features him as someone with unnatural powers or not, he continues to be an actor to keep an eye on.