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Why Billy From The Fifth Element Looks So Familiar

The Fifth Element is one of the most beloved sci-fi films of the 1990s. Written and directed by Luc Besson, the film was a box office success when it was released in 1997, and has gone on to become a cult favorite amongst sci-fi fans all over the world. While part of The Fifth Element's enduring success can be attributed to Besson's creative vision, a large portion of the film's appeal comes from its cast. Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich give the film its necessary heart, while stars like Gary Oldman and Chris Tucker turn in truly unbelievable performances as their respective characters. But they're not the only recognizable faces in The Fifth Element's cast. 

Another familiar actor pops up briefly as Billy Masterson, an assistant to a professor familiar with the mystical elements around which the film is centered. The character was played by none other than the late great Luke Perry, a veteran of plenty of other TV shows and films from which viewers may know him.

He captured everyone's attention on Beverly Hills, 90210

After getting his start on a couple of forgettable late '80s soap operas, Perry became a TV icon with his turn as Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210. One of the all-time great TV heartthrobs, Perry earned worldwide attention for his performance as the brooding McKay, a loner with a troubled past. The character remained Perry's most iconic role throughout his entire career, with the actor even remarking (via UPI) at one point, "I'm going to be linked with him until I die, but that's actually just fine. I created Dylan McKay. He's mine." Perry played the character from 1990-1995, before leaving the show to try to find success elsewhere. He eventually reprised his role as McKay in 1998, though, and remained a permanent guest star on Beverly Hills, 90210 until the show's conclusion in 2000

Perry was right that he'd always be known for playing the Beverly Hills, 90210 character, but the link between him and McKay didn't stop him from securing roles in a number of other notable TV and films over the years.

Luke Perry was in the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Before Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a beloved TV series airing in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was a 1992 horror-comedy film starring Perry, Kristy Swanson, Rutger Hauer, Hilary Swank, Donald Sutherland, and Paul Reubens. Perry played Oliver Pike in the film — a character initially at-odds with Swanson's Buffy Summers — who eventually becomes not only Buffy's romantic interest but also her vampire-hunting partner. The film was made during Perry's early years on Beverly Hills, 90210, and was shot in just five weeks (via ScreenRant) in order to fit in with the actor's television filming schedule.

Written by Joss Whedon — who would go on to create the Buffy TV series years later — the film itself did fairly well at the box office. It was not well-received by critics, but has become a bit of a cult favorite in the years since its debut, if only for its strange link to the Buffy TV series.

Perry portrayed Reverend Jeremiah Cloutier on Oz

Just one year after his run on Beverly Hills, 90210 came to an end, Perry turned in one of his most memorable performances on HBO's prison drama Oz. Introduced in the show's fourth season, Perry played Jeremiah Cloutier, a devoutly religious reverend who was sent to prison for embezzling funds from his church. One of the series' most interesting characters, Cloutier spent his time in the prison trying to convert his fellow inmates and turn them away from their lives of crime. Unfortunately, the character's own distaste for violence eventually put him in the crosshairs of some of the prison's more dangerous inmates and resulted in him reaching an unfortunate fate.

The Oz role was wildly different from Perry's 90210 character, and helped to show off his range and capabilities as an actor. In fact, his work on Oz was just a sign of what was still to come in Perry's career, as the actor went on to receive acclaim for playing a wide array of different characters.

Perry played Archie's dad on Riverdale

Luke Perry's final TV role was as Fred Andrews on the CW's Riverdale. The father of K.J. Apa's Archie Andrews, Fred was one of the most likable characters that Riverdale had to offer. Perry's character served as a comforting presence on the show — something that not many other Riverdale characters could provide — and he was often there to give out some much-needed support to Archie and his friends.

Perry passed away during the filming of Riverdale's third season, and the show's creative team quickly made it clear that fans weren't the only ones who deeply cherished Perry's presence on the series either. The season 4 premiere of Riverdale served as a tribute episode to Perry, and featured an unexpected, moving cameo appearance from Perry's Beverly Hills, 90210 co-star, Shannen Doherty. Every episode of the show since Perry's death has also been dedicated to the actor, as will every one of the series' future episodes.

Luke Perry's final role was in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Luke Perry's last film role was in Quentin Tarantino's 2019 epic, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood; Perry played real-life Canadian actor Wayne Maunder,in the film. The character is one of several whom Leonardo DiCaprio's Rick Dalton crosses paths with while shooting an episode of a cheap Western TV show during the film's second act. Perry's Maunder even acts opposite DiCaprio's Dalton during the climactic scene of the show's pilot episode, which also serves as the climax of Dalton's second-act storyline.

Tragically, Luke Perry died after experiencing a fatal stroke in March 2019 — a few months prior to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood's theatrical release. Similar to Riverdale, the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood team paid tribute to Perry by dedicating the film to him. Despite the tragic nature of Perry's passing, the actor has left behind a screen legacy — which includes his brief but memorable role in The Fifth Element — that will keep him alive in the hearts and minds of viewers for years to come.