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Why Pike From Star Trek Looks So Familiar

2009's J.J. Abrams-helmed Star Trek movie kicked off the franchise's Kelvin timeline, in which James T. Kirk looks like Chris Pine and everything has way more lens flare than you remembered. This big-budget corner of the franchise also reintroduced us to Kirk's predecessor as the captain of USS Enterprise: Christopher Pike.    

Now, Pike is a pretty important character in the Star Trek lore. The very first Starfleet captain to make an appearance in the franchise, he commanded USS Enterprise in the original series' unsuccessful pilot episode "The Cage," in which Jeffrey Hunter plays him. Pike later pops up as a dramatically changed man in 1966's "The Menagerie," this time played by Sean Kinney. Pike is even present in the most recent Trek show — CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery, in which Anson Mount portrays the character. 

As such, it's hardly a surprise that the most recent Star Trek movies made sure that this long-serving character was brought to life by an actor with the required charisma, gravitas, and big-screen experience — and whom you might also recognize from a few other roles. Here's why Captain Pike from Star Trek, played by Bruce Greenwood, looks so familiar.

Bruce Greenwood is the President of the United States in multiple movies

Bruce Greenwood has been a reliable on-screen presence since the late 1970s, with a robust résumé in TV shows and made-for-TV movies. Blessed with a face that naturally radiates authority, he seems to gravitate toward establishment roles, ranging from doctors (one of his most prominent early roles was Dr. Seth Griffin on St. Elsewhere) to presidents. 

Greenwood has portrayed various iterations of the President of the United States of America over his career. In 2000, he played John F. Kennedy opposite Kevin Costner in Roger Donaldson's Cuban Missile Crisis movie Thirteen Days. Nicolas Cage fans may also remember him as the POTUS in 2007's National Treasure: Book of Secrets, in which Cage's Ben Gates ends up kidnapping the surprisingly chill president in an effort to gain access to the titular tome. More recently, Greenwood played a rather more ruthless version of the President in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, in which he's perfectly happy to respond to Poppy's (Julianne Moore) drug-poisoning plot by quarantining all drug users and letting them die a horrible death. 

Bruce Greenwood plays Lawrence Robertson in I, Robot

It's clear that Greenwood is no stranger to major motion pictures, and in 2004's I, Robot, he starred as Lawrence Robertson, the seemingly villainous CEO of U.S. Robotics. When the company's co-founder mysteriously falls to his death, Detective Del Spooner (Will Smith) starts investigating the case, and soon finds himself teaming up with an advanced robot called Sonny (voiced by Alan Tudyk). As the case gets more and more dangerous, Spooner starts to suspect that Robertson is behind everything — only to find that there's something much stranger going on. 

Making a big-budget sci-fi movie might seem like serious work, but in a 2006 interview with children's website Kidz World, Greenwood revealed that working with the megastar Smith was actually a lot more relaxed than you might assume. "[Smith's] a complete clown and the best guy ever, hysterically funny," Greenwood said. "He's a practical joker and he's just a very funny guy who always keeps the crew up."

Bruce Greenwood is ... Batman

Who's more powerful than the President? That's right: Batman. Luckily for Greenwood, his résumé also happens to include several projects in which he's voiced the Caped Crusader himself. 

He first donned the cartoon cowl in the 2010 DC Universe animated original movie Under the Red Hood, facing off against Jensen Ackles' ruthless Red Hood — who just so happens to be a more familiar foe than Batman anticipated. Next came Gotham by Gaslight, a Victorian reimagining of the Batman mythos that pitted Bruce Wayne against Jack the Ripper himself. From 2010 to 2019, Greenwood also voiced a recurring Batman on Cartoon Network's Young Justice. 

Historically, Greenwood's version of Batman tends to get a little lost in the mix, if only because both Under the Red Hood and Young Justice versions relegate the Dark Knight into more of a supporting role, while Gotham by Gaslight is a peculiar period piece. Still, he does have a decade as the Batman under his belt, and that's something very, very few people can say. 

Bruce Greenwood is Gil Garcetti in American Crime Story

In 2016, Greenwood added another famous figure in his repertoire by playing District Attorney Gil Garcetti on the first season of FX's true crime anthology American Crime Story. As its title suggests, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story was a star-studded take on the famous O.J. Simpson (Cuba Cooding Jr.) murder case, involving the deaths of Simpson's ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and a friend of hers named Ron Goldman. Garcetti has to navigate the massive publicity of the case, as well as the intensely charismatic "Dream Team" of defense attorneys, portrayed by an equally impressive cast of famous and talented actors. 

When GQ interviewed the cast and asked the obligatory question about whether they believe O.J. really did it, Greenwood proved to have a very similar opinion as his character does. While most of his cast mates gave long-winded answers that largely danced around giving a direct "yes" or "no" answer, Greenwood took the direct route and simply stated: "The evidence is beyond clear. Yes." No need for method acting in this particular role, then.