Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

This Is Why Barney From Pretty Woman Looks So Familiar

It's been just over three decades since the romantic comedy Pretty Woman hit screens, but the film remains a beloved classic that is endlessly referenced in pop culture and real-life conversations. The film cemented the superstar status of then-rising star Julia Roberts and ensured that Richard Gere would be a forever heartthrob to a generation or three.

But the film offers even more bounty than its swoon-worthy story and leading couple. It also features a stellar supporting cast, including Héctor Elizondo. Elizondo plays Barney Thompson, the manager of the hotel where Roberts' character, prostitute-turned-love-interest Vivian, stays as part of her arrangement with business tycoon Edward Lewis (Gere). Thompson initially clashes with Vivian over her presence in the hotel but soon befriends her, setting her up with someone to help buy her nicer clothes and teaching her proper etiquette. He even nudges Edward toward chasing after Vivian in the end. (Fun fact: The original Pretty Woman ending would've been a major downer.) You may not remember Barney's name, but his part in Vivian and Edward's love story is invaluable. Similarly, you may not know Elizondo by name, but you likely know his face from not just Pretty Woman but a bevy of other works, too.

The man has had a long and fruitful career, with his first IMDB credit dating back to 1963 and spanning every decade since. He is an effortlessly charming and endearing actor. Simply put, Elizondo is a wildly underappreciated Hollywood gem and it's worth checking out any projects he's in that you haven't seen before.

Héctor Elizondo was in many other high-profile romantic comedies

Nine years after Pretty Woman, the film's director Garry Marshall reunited with his stars for another iconic romantic comedy, Runaway Bride. For their second team-up, Roberts plays Maggie, a woman with a habit of dramatic wedding-day cold-feet antics, and Gere plays Ike, a reporter assigned to write a story about her. Not to be excluded, Elizondo was cast in Runaway Bride as Fisher, Ike's boss who marries Ike's ex-wife. The character is a little colder and far less significant to the central romance in this film than Barney in Pretty Woman, but the role marks a then-blooming and eventually obvious pattern: Garry Marshall films and Héctor Elizondo are a package deal.

Indeed, the role that Elizondo is perhaps most widely known for is in yet another Garry Marshall film: The Princess Diaries, starring Anne Hathaway as Mia Thermopolis, high school teen and heir to the throne of Genovia, and Julie Andrews as Queen Clarisse Renaldi. Hathaway shined in her breakout role while Andrews radiated her already-established icon status, but Elizondo was an undeniable scene-stealer. Playing the character of Joe, Mia's limousine driver and the queen's head of security and close confidante, Elizondo returned to the kind of Pretty Woman character that is effectively a trademark of his career: a warm, sympathetic, wise older friend or grandfather figure in a service/hospitality job who helps the hero on their journey and thus contributes to the central relationship's development. To millennials especially, Joe is a loveable, unforgettable legend, and Elizondo is our Joe.

Elizondo's relationship with Marshall has continued in the years since The Princess Diaries. He appeared in the film's 2004 sequel and in all three of Marshall's loosely connected, holiday-themed, A-lister-stacked romcoms Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve, and Mother's Day.

Héctor Elizondo has played a doctor in several renowned television shows

Héctor Elizondo's resume is as stacked with film roles as it is voice acting and television roles. Regarding the latter, one of the earliest shows he starred in was Chicago Hope. In this long-running '90s medical drama created by David E. Kelley and starring Mandy Patinkin, Elizondo co-starred as Dr. Phillip Waters. He was in all 141 episodes of the show's six-season run from 1994-2000.

In 2008 and 2009, he played a different kind of doctor in the award-winning crime dramedy Monk. He joined the show for its last two seasons, portraying Dr. Neven Bell, the therapist who begins working with Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) after his longtime therapist dies. Like Elizondo won millennials over in the role of Joe, Dr. Bell wins over an initially skeptical Monk.

Possibly missing the hospital part of playing a doctor that his Monk role didn't fulfill, Elizondo joined the cast of Grey's Anatomy around the same time as he did Monk. However, he didn't wear scrubs for the show. Instead, he simply visited the hospital as Carlos Torres, the rich, oft-maligned and overprotective but ultimately loving father of Dr. Callie Torres (Sarah Ramirez). He first appears to take stock of George, after Callie and George get married, then accosts George and Mark in the wake of the couple's dual cheating offenses. When Callie begins dating Arizona, he does not react well to her queerness but comes around in time for their wedding, supporting her then and in other ways since. Elizondo's appearances as George Torres were sprinkled throughout several seasons, from 2007-2013.

Elizondo currently stars in the sitcom Last Man Standing

While his medical show roles leaned more toward drama, Héctor Elizondo's primary work in the last decade has involved his comedic chops. The 84-year-old actor has been starring for 10 years in the Tim Allen sitcom Last Man Standing.

Elizondo plays Ed Alzate, the business partner and friend of Allen's Mike Baxter. The two run a sporting goods company called Outdoor Man. Alzate likes to appear gruff and cranky, but he's always there to help Baxter with his business or family troubles, giving viewers a taste of the same gooey warmth of Elizondo's prior characters. Elizondo has appeared in all of Last Man Standing's 181 episodes to date. Debuting in 2011, the show is in the midst of its ninth season, despite having experienced a cancellation by original network home ABC. (It was quickly picked up by Fox.) However, now that Fox has canceled Last Man Standing, this season will be its last, with the show wrapping up its run sometime in spring 2021.