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Why Delmar From O Brother Where Art Thou? Looks So Familiar

In an interview with GQ back in 2019, Tim Blake Nelson claimed that he actually tried to turn down the part of Delmar in O Brother, Where Art Thou? Up until that point, he hadn't been in much — a bit part in The Thin Red Line, the voice of a cockroach in 1996's Joe's Apartment – and didn't want to walk into a lead role "and not show up with the goods."

Luckily, the universe tends to unfold as it should, and the then-35-year-old actor took the gig, turning in a performance that's hard to forget as a member of George Clooney and John Turturro's Odyssean chain gang. In the 20 years since, he's gone on to become one of Hollywood's most recognizable character actors, tallying up more than 80 additional acting credits and directing O, Leaves of Grass, and the premiere episode of Z: The Beginning of Everything.

All of this makes the question of where you might have seen him in his post-Great Depression days a little hard to pin down. Let's take a look at some of the actor's more high-profile work.

Tim Blake Nelson left Hulk fans wanting more

In the before times, during the Hulk's awkward "no longer a Bana, not yet a Ruffalo" phase, there were still movies starring Marvel's green goliath. Hopes seemed high that he'd spawn his own film franchise, with Edward Norton donning the hero's iconic, unbreakable pants for what was presumed to be the first of many times in 2008's The Incredible Hulk.

Unfortunately for fans of solo flicks about guys who get mad and break stuff, Hulk wound up on complicated ground in terms of feature film distribution rights, and the strongest Avenger took on a supporting role in the MCU. The biggest drag to come out of this development was the apparent abandonment of Tim Blake Nelson's character from the 2008 film, Doctor Samuel Sterns. In his final moments on screen, Sterns is seen getting an open wound-full of Bruce Banner's gamma-heavy blood. His head rapidly grows to Funko Pop proportions, foreshadowing his transformation into classic Hulk villain The Leader.

It remains to be seen whether Nelson will return to the role of The Leader, but fun fact: The Incredible Hulk wasn't his final trip to the Marvel universe. The actor also landed a few lines in 2015's Fantastic Four. Between the fact that his character was killed by Doctor Doom and the way that the movie scored an astonishing 9% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it's probably safe to assume that he's done with that franchise for now.

Tim Blake Nelson serenades us in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

2018 saw Tim Blake Nelson's first onscreen collaboration with the Coen Brothers since O Brother, Where Art Thou? Again transported to a world overrun by shades of sepia, he had the distinction of opening up the anthology film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs with its eponymous segment, playing the titular Buster Scruggs.

Viewers might have been taken aback by Nelson's portrayal of a gunslinging death dealer, but according to the performer, that was very much by design. Speaking to GQ in 2019, he recalled the part being written for him around the time that O Brother was released, with Joel and Ethan Coen penning the script because they knew he could sing, and also thought the idea of Nelson as a cowboy was hilarious.

Nelson's performance as the singing, dancing crack-shot duelist never quite got the same meme celebrity status as James Franco smirking at the gallows, but it was singled out by critics as one of the movie's highlights.

Tim Blake Nelson got serious with Watchmen

In 2019, Damon Lindelof and HBO did what comic book fans were pretty sure could never be done: They made a pretty good Watchmen sequel. For nine episodes, audiences were astonished by a deep, complex story filled with familiar faces, as well as warped reflections of old favorite characters. And nobody did warped reflections as well as Looking Glass.

Looking Glass, also known as Wade Tillman (or "Mirror Guy") became a fan favorite across Watchmen's first — and possibly only — season. A traumatized survivalist living in the wake of the in-universe attack on New York in 1985, Nelson described his character as a living box full of "fragility and despair" in an interview with GQ.

By the end of the series, Nelson's character has lived out the power fantasy of every conspiracy theorist, vindicating his beliefs and personally arresting the Illuminati-level mastermind behind his personal damage. More than that, though, he gets to wear the show's coolest non-glowing-blue get up.