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Why Madelyn Stillwell From The Boys Looks So Familiar

The Boys runs on a simple premise: superheroes aren't always the pinnacles of society they're presented as, and the titular Boys plan to put them down. The execution of that premise is anything but simple, which is what makes The Boys such a satisfying watch. The motivations behind every character, superhero or otherwise, provides deeper insight into what brought the world to be the way it is on the show.

Madelyn Stillwell is, in many ways, why the world is the way it is in the first place. A high-ranking official of the Vought Corporation, the organization responsible for marketing and packaging superheroes to the public, Stillwell is essentially the team manager of the Seven, the world's preeminent superhero group. Striking up a relationship with Homelander, arguably the most powerful caped crusader on the planet, and making plans to put superheroes in the military are but two examples of how far her ambition stretches.

If you ever caught yourself wondering who plays this glass ceiling-shattering woman, it's most likely because — even though she's not as instantly recognizable as, say, Karl Urban — you've probably seen her before. Where from, exactly? Check it out.

Shue's first role is one of her most famous

Everybody and their mother can sound off at least one quote from The Karate Kid. Straight out of the eighties, it stands tall among the slew of high school movies that released in the same decade, thanks in large part to the student-master relationship between titular karate kid Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) and his sensei, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita). It's still a high school movie, however, so a romantic relationship was inevitable from the get-go — which is where Shue comes in. She'd been in a few commercials before, and was uncredited in small film roles here and there, but this was her first big gig.

As Ali Mills, she's more than just a love interest for Daniel, but a fully-fleshed out character. It's easy to tell she put her all into making a good first impression on Hollywood and film audiences; to this day, Mills remains one of her most famous roles. A girl who doesn't care for the societal constraints of social class, she's a heartwarming presence in a heartwarming movie. It really is too bad the romance didn't last past the first film.

The character is mentioned several times in The Karate Kid's TV continuation Cobra Kai, but Shue has not appeared in the show as of September 2020. Nothing's off the table, however. With Season 3 set to premiere on Netflix in 2021, anything's possible.

Shue filled in an important role in the Back to the Future franchise

Time travel movies tend to be very hit or miss — mostly depending on how convoluted the in-film time travel is or isn't, as well as how many plot holes do or don't open up as a result. Back to the Future, another classic eighties franchise, is a fan-favorite to this day, considered by many to be one of the best time travel movies out there. A lot of that has to do with the characters, who imbue the film with an infectious spirit missing from so many similar productions.

Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Emmett "Doc" Brown (Christopher Lloyd) are the ones who get into time travel shenanigans in the first place, making them the stars of the show. But Jennifer Parker, McFly's girlfriend, is important, too. As originally portrayed by actress Claudia Wells, her on-screen chemistry with Fox is a joy to watch. Unfortunately, Wells couldn't reprise her role in the sequels, for personal reasons, so in Back to the Future Part II and III, Shue takes her place.

The sudden change was jarring for franchise fans, and expectations were high. Luckily, Shue delivered, making the unexpected transition as smooth as possible. Parker's role is more prominent in the sequels, and Shue does everything she can to both honor Wells' legacy while managing to make the character her own. Most would agree that she succeeds at both.

Shue broke the mold and hit it big in Leaving Las Vegas

While the roles of Ali Mills and Jennifer Parker cemented her place in movie franchise history, Shue couldn't play "the girlfriend" character forever. That's not to discredit her performances in these and other early roles, but Hollywood does tend to be stereotypical in its casting. Regardless, over 10 years after her acting debut in The Karate Kid, Shue's part in Leaving Las Vegas proved she was capable of so much more.

As a Las Vegas sex worker named Sera, she stars alongside Nicholas Cage, who plays Ben Sanderson, a drunk with a screwed-up past. Shue and Cage go above and beyond the call of duty, imbuing the characters with a great deal of life and humanity. Their complicated relationship drives the film forward to its heart-wrenching conclusion.

For playing such a unique role, compared to the rest of her resume at the time, Shue makes it seem like the most natural thing in the world. Her performance earned her an Oscar nomination, a BAFTA nomination, and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. More than that, though, her stint as Sera garnered her enough attention to be cast in a variety of unique roles, something she likely only dreamed of a decade earlier.

Shue made the jump from film to TV in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

Despite mainly being known for her myriad film appearances, Shue is no stranger to the world of television. She was landing small screen roles well before embodying The Boys' Madelyn Stillwell, such as military brat Jackie Sarnac in Call to Glory and a guest role on Curb Your Enthusiasm. Of all her TV characters, though, Julie Finlay of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is her most prominent.

First arriving on the (crime) scene in season 12, Shue returns to Las Vegas as a blood splatter expert, filling the void left by Catherine Willows when Marg Helgenberger left CSI. As both a valuable asset to the investigation team and a complex character in her own right, longtime CSI fans were more than happy to follow Finlay in place of Willows.

Whether Cobra Kai is in the cards for Shue or not, she'll be a treat to watch wherever she ends up next.