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Why Big John From Manhunt: Deadly Games Looks So Familiar

Viewers who pay attention to Netflix's Top 10 list have been pleasantly surprised by the fact that Manhunt: Deadly Games is here, and plenty of fans are discovering the gritty true crime drama. After the first season tied up the true crime story of the Unabomber, The sophomore season of Manhunt tackles the tragic story of Richard Jewell (Cameron Britton), a security guard who's hailed as a hero of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing, but soon becomes falsely accused of being the bomber. Jewell's eventually exonerated, though his reputation is tarnished. Unfortunately, the real bomber, Eric Rudolph (Jack Huston), is able to carry out four more bombings, and goes into hiding in the wilderness of North Carolina to evade the FBI.

As the authorities work to get on Rudolph's trail, they encounter several obstacles. Among the larger ones is Big John, a local who looms large over his community in every possible sense of the term. The hulking man is the leader of an anti-government militia, which assists Rudolph in his quest to evade capture, placing him on a collision course with local PD, the FBI, and the ATF. If Big John's intimidating, powerful presence on screen seems a bit familiar, there's a good reason why. He's played by Brad William Henke, a veteran big man of the big and small screens. 

Brad William Henke is Coover Bennett on Justified

As his extremely strong frame might suggest, Brad William Henke — or Brad Henke, as he's occasionally credited — used to ply his trade as a professional footballer. He played defensive end for the NFL's Denver Broncos, and even appeared in the Super Bowl (via Tucson Citizen). He started acting in the mid-1990s, and by the turn of the millennium, he started landing larger, recurring roles on shows like The WB sitcom Nikki. He even got a starring role in the short-lived Showtime dramedy Going to California. After that, he spent years inhabiting relatively small roles on big shows (think CSI, Dexter, and Lost), though he still landed a few big parts on less popular programs.

Then came Justified. In 2011, Henke portrayed Coover Bennett in the second season of FX's esteemed Western crime drama. After the first season introduces the peculiar lawman Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and the even stranger Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), the second season focuses on the threat of the Bennetts, a crime family led by Margo Martindale's Mags Bennett. Coover is the youngest son of the family, and despite his obvious size and strength, he's depicted as a pot enthusiast who's a constant disappointment to his mother. Nevertheless, he doesn't fear Raylan one cent, and is more than capable of beating the deputy U.S. Marshal in a fistfight.

Though Coover only appears in season 2, Henke does a fine job acting opposite titans of the small screen like Martindale, Goggins and Olyphant. As such, it's no wonder that his career really took off from there.

Brad William Henke is Desi Piscatella on Orange Is the New Black

If you have a Netflix account and an affinity for Orange Is the New Black, chances are you've already loved to hate Brad William Henke, thanks to this role. Desi Piscatella is a Captain of the Litchfield Penitentiary, and an uptight authoritarian who's nevertheless bad enough at his job to allow his crew to descend into shoddy practices. Piscatella is the Big Bad of the show's seasons 4 and 5 — and because of his status, bad attitude, and sheer physical presence, he's possibly the most threatening individual in the entire series. However, like everyone else in the series, he's also a fairly complex character with a multi-faceted inner life full of good and bad experiences and emotions. 

A large, yet refreshingly understated part of Piscatella's character is his sexuality, which seamlessly ties into the character. In a 2016 interview with Out, Henke talked about his attempt to make the character as real and believable as possible. "Just from having friends in the gay community, I know their frustrations with how they are represented," the actor said. "It felt like, 'Hey, I better f*****g do this right.' And it's funny because on Instagram people have written, 'Thank you for playing a real person who is also gay.' That is my [character's] sexuality. But I am a flawed person as Piscatella. And I'm also a good person as Piscatella. I'm everything, you know?"

Brad William Henke is Tom Cullen on The Stand

Brad William Henke's résumé is full of exciting roles, but there's a good chance that his best one is yet to come. Starting on December 17, you'll get the chance to see him on the CBS All Access dark fantasy miniseries The Stand, based on Stephen King's esteemed apocalyptic novel of the same name. Henke is part of the series' main cast as Tom Cullen, a towering, mildly intellectually challenged man who answers Mother Abagail's (Whoopi Goldberg) call to join her in Nebraska, and who turns out to have more hidden depths than anyone could have assumed. 

The complicated role is custom-made for a veteran character actor like Henke, and in a cast where everyone is familiar from a ton of famous roles, he just might turn out to be the biggest draw of them all. With such a huge project about to premiere, it's easy to believe that there'll be plenty more lined up for the actor in the future.