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Why Byron From Made For Love Looks So Familiar

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Made for Love doesn't premiere on HBO Max until April Fool's Day 2021, but if the early critical consensus is any indication, it should be one of the better comedies from this year. Based on the 2017 novel of the same name by Alissa Nutting, Made for Love follows Hazel Green (Cristin Milioti), a woman who's been married to a tech billionaire for ten years until she decides to split. But that's when she discovers her husband has planted a state-of-the-art microchip in her brain that allows him to monitor her every action, thought, and emotion. In the meantime, she holes up in her desert hometown with her estranged father (Ray Romano) while she looks for a solution. It was one of the first series announced for HBO Max back in 2019. 

The husband, Byron Gogol, is played by Billy Magnussen. Deadline described Byron as "unstable, needy, [and] possibly sociopathic," which is a bit of a departure from the roles Magnussen usually plays. Before Made for Love, Magnussen usually played Disney princes. Here's where you might recognize him from.

Prince Anders, Aladdin (2019)

Guy Ritchie's live-action/CGI adaptation of Aladdin was mostly a faithful remake of the 1992 Disney animated classic, but it did add some new characters to the cast. One of those was Prince Anders, the heir to the throne of the vaguely Scandinavian nation of Skanland. He arrives early in the movie as a potential suitor to Princess Jasmine of Agrabah, replacing Prince Achmed in the original movie. Anders is an overdressed goofball who tries his best to woo Jasmine, but he has no real shot at winning her hand. 

It was a relatively brief appearance, but Billy Magnussen stole all his scenes. That convinced Disney+ to give Prince Anders his own spinoff series, which will be the first spinoff from one of its live-action remakes (according to The Hollywood Reporter). Magnussen reportedly approached Disney with the idea, and he's been involved in writing the script. The project has been in development since Dec. 2020.

Nick Sullivan, Tell Me A Story (2018-2019)

In 2018, Billy Magnussen starred in yet another project based on a fairy tale, but this one was decidedly darker than his usual fare. Tell Me a Story was a psychological horror series created by Scream screenwriter Kevin Williamson, and it aired on CBS All Access before The CW acquired the broadcasting rights in May 2020. (However, there won't be a third season, per Deadline.)

Based on the telenovela Cuéntame un Cuento, Tell Me a Story was an anthology series that reimagined classic fairy tales in a modern-day setting. Magnussen played Nick Sullivan, a teacher who grooms a student for an inappropriate relationship. His character was based on the wolf from "Little Red Riding Hood."

Even though it was a different character from the sort Magnussen usually plays, his approach was the same. "I literally approached Tell Me a Story the same as I did in Into the Woods. You see what the world is you're in and you try to fill it with life and breath," Magnussen told UPI.

Ryan Huddle, Game Night (2018)

Billy Magnussen excels at playing characters who might be generously described as "vain idiots," a skill he used to great effect in the 2018 comedy thriller Game Night. The story centered on a married couple, Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams), who host a weekly game night with friends. During one game night, Max's brother is kidnapped by mobsters, which the friends think is part of the game and eagerly attempt to solve until they realize the truth of the situation.

Magnussen played Ryan, Max and Annie's friend who brings a new date to game night every week. For Magnussen, the hardest part of filming the movie was not breaking character. "This film was so difficult to shoot because everyone was laughing the whole time," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "You know like when the teacher is up in class and she's writing on the chalkboard, and you make eye contact with your friend across the class, and you can't stop laughing and you try to hold it in and it hurts? And you have to pee a little because it hurts so much? That's how shooting this whole film was. It was so hard to keep a straight face."

Rapunzel's Prince, Into the Woods (2014)

Billy Magnussen got his first screen credit in 2008, but his breakout role as an actor came in 2014 when he starred in Into the Woods, the movie adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's 1986 musical. The movie ties together different classic fairy tales into one story, challenging the idea of whether it's possible to have a "happily ever after." Magnussen's role was "Rapunzel's Prince," who was also the brother of Prince Charming (Chris Pine), Cinderella's Husband. One of the standout moments in the film was when Magnussen and Pine were singing "Agony" and both ripped open their shirts, baring their chests. It was entirely improvised.

Magnussen's musical background came in handy when playing Rapunzel's Prince. He played in indie rock bands in New York City in his twenties, so he was comfortable belting out Broadway tunes. He described his singing process to DIY Magazine: "Singing is like talking, just with a lot of air in it. That's what I think it is."