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Why Mr. Heckles From Friends Looks So Familiar

If you're a fan of '90s sitcoms, then you've got to have a ton of love for Friends. For ten seasons beginning in 1994, Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Ross (David Schwimmer), Monica (Courteney Cox), Chandler (Matthew Perry), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), and Joey (Matt LeBlanc) kept us entertained with their relatable quirks, complicated romantic relationships, their harebrained schemes, and — most of all — their often-tested but undying devotion to each other through thick and thin. It was the kind of show that never failed to put a smile on your face, and we're betting that you're humming the insanely catchy Friends theme song right now.

Friends' producers also seemed to have an uncanny ability to land pretty much everyone in Hollywood for guest spots and even multi-episode arcs. Over the show's run, the likes of Brad Pitt, Susan Sarandon, Bruce Willis, Sean Penn, Isabella Rossellini, John Stamos, Elle Macpherson, Jeff Goldblum, and Alec Baldwin could be seen walking through the doors of one of the principal players' insanely large New York City apartments — but the guest list wasn't limited to A-listers. In particular, dedicated fans are sure to remember Mr. Heckles, the crotchety old man who lived in the apartment below Monica and Rachel, with his constant complaints that the ladies' excessive noise (which was never actually that excessive) was disrupting an increasingly unlikely array of his activities. Mr. Heckles popped up in five episodes, and in his last appearance — season 2's succinctly-titled "The One Where Heckles Dies" — it's revealed that despite cataloguing all of their transgressions in his "Big Book of Grievances," he's left all of his (old, tacky) possessions to Monica and Rachel.

If the actor who played Heckles has always looked naggingly familiar, there's a very good reason for that. His name is Larry Hankin, and he's the very definition of a veteran character actor, with a career that has spanned an incredible six decades.

Larry Hankin's meatiest role was in a Clint Eastwood classic

According to his IMDb page, Larry Hankin's first credited role was a guest spot on the Marlo Thomas sitcom That Girl in 1966, and for the remainder of that decade and nearly all of the next, he began to carve out a niche for himself as a reliable supporting player on screens both large and small. He appeared on TV series like Lou Grant and Laverne and Shirley, and his distinctive, everyman mug also graced the big screen with bit parts in films such as Steelyard Blues and American Hot Wax — but in 1979, he finally got a chance to appear in a major production when he was cast as inmate Charley Butts in Clint Eastwood's hit historical drama, Escape from Alcatraz.

The flick was based on the infamous 1962 escape attempt of four real-life inmates from the famed island prison, and it was a significant critical and financial success. It grossed $43 million at the box office, according to The Numbers (roughly $155 million in today's dollars), and received positive write-ups from the likes of Roger Ebert — who praised it as a "taut and toughly wrought portrait of life in a prison" and a "masterful piece of storytelling" — and the New York Times' legendarily tough Vincent Canby — who called it "terrifically exciting" and heaped praise on the supporting performances, mentioning Hankin by name). Escape from Alcatraz raised Hankin's profile considerably. During the eighties, he amassed a mile-long list of guest roles on virtually every show on television, and also appeared in some classic flicks, including Running Scared, Planes, Trains, and Automobilesand Amazon Women on the Moon.

Larry Hankin was in one of Adam Sandler's best comedies

Larry Hankin improbably became even more ubiquitous in the nineties. In the first half of the decade alone, his film credits included role in stone-cold classics Home Alone and Pretty Woman, and on the small screen, he appeared in series as widely varied as Star Trek: The Next Generation, Picket Fences, and Seinfeld (in which he portrayed Tom Pepper, the actor playing Kramer in the show-within-a-show, Jerry). Perhaps his most fondly-remembered appearance during the decade, though, was in the 1995 Adam Sandler comedy Billy Madison, in which the funnyman played the titular dimwitted heir to a hotel chain owned by his rich, elderly father Brian (Darren McGavin).

Hankin portrays Carl Alphonse, the kindly operations manager of Madison Hotels, the future of which is up in the air as the film begins. Brian, loath to turn his business over to his oafish son, declares his intention to instead make his executive VP Eric Gordon (Bradley Whitford) the boss, which doesn't sit well with Billy. When Brian reveals that he had bribed all of Billy's teachers just to get him through school, Billy agrees to plow his way through all twelve grades in just two weeks each to prove his competence. When he manages to acquit himself a bit better than expected, Eric deviously intervenes — but in the film's uproarious finale, a Jeopardy!-like quiz competition between the two men, Eric's lack of scruples proves to be his undoing. Billy, realizing that he doesn't exactly have the right stuff to guide his dear old dad's company, then turns it over to the good-hearted and loyal Carl.

Larry Hankin had a small but memorable role on Breaking Bad

Over the next 15 years, Larry Hankin's filmography stretched from a mere mile long to three or four, although the roles became, shall we say, slightly less memorable. Many of the projects he appeared in during this time are barely-remembered (if they're remembered at all), with a few notable exceptions. One of those happens to be a hilarious 2003 guest turn on Fox sitcom Malcolm in the Middle, in which he portrayed a homeless guy who helped throw a monkey wrench into the plans of Hal (Bryan Cranston) to make some extra holiday cash by running a Christmas tree lot. As it turns out, Hankin ended up being the Malcolm in the Middle connection you missed on Breaking Bad — the iconic AMC drama series that would reunite him with Cranston with a couple of brilliant guest appearances beginning in 2010.

In the season 3 episode "Sunset," Hankin portrayed Old Joe, the junkyard proprietor who — by way of his surprising legal knowledge — saved the skin of Cranston's Walter White and his partner Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) when their RV-slash-mobile meth lab was tracked down — with the hapless pair inside — by Walter's DEA agent brother in law Hank (Dean Norris). The character resurfaced in the season 5 premiere "Live Free or Die," and briefly appeared once again in the 2019 feature-length series coda El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.

By this point, Hankin's list of credits must extend to the Moon and back — but that doesn't mean he's done. As of this writing, the 80-year old has five projects in the pipeline, and somehow, we doubt that Hankin, one of the hardest-working actors around, will be slowing down anytime soon.