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Why Billy From The Champ Looks So Familiar

Boxers with complicated family lives, it's a tale as old as time. Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) has a strained relationship with his son, Robert Balboa Jr. (Sage Stallone), in "Rocky V," to the point that the younger Balboa becomes involved with delinquent youths as his father trains young protege Tommy Gunn (Tommy Morrison). The rift even carried over into the "Rocky" spinoff films, with Milo Ventimiglia taking up the role for "Rocky Balboa" and "Creed II," following Sage Stallone's death in 2012. "The Fighter" tells the real-life story of boxer Micky Ward (Mark Wahlburg), whose life with his manager and mother Alice (Melissa Leo) and crack-addicted half-brother, former boxer Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) makes for strange bedfellows. By the end of "Raging Bull," Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro) had issues with pretty much everyone, especially his brother Joey (Joe Pesci). 

Three years after "Rocky" first came out, "The Champ" was released, telling the tale of retired boxer Billy Flynn and his questionable parenting of son Timothy Joseph (Ricky Schroeder), whom he told his estranged wife, Annie (Faye Dunaway), was dead. Viewers may recognize the actor behind Billy Flynn as Jon Voight, a Hollywood legend whose acting résumé spans decades and features films and roles that have become absolute classics. For anyone struggling to place his face, here are some of his most recognizable roles.

Voight took a canoe trip as Ed Gentry in Deliverance

Nearly a decade into his career, after several television roles, turns in a handful of films, and taking on the title role in "Midnight Cowboy," Jon Voight appeared in director John Boorman's classic thriller "Deliverance" in the role of Ed Gentry. Ed is one of four friends — joined by Lewis Medlock (Burt Reynolds), Bobby Trippe (Ned Beatty), and Drew Ballinger (Ronny Cox) — who decided to take a canoeing trip down the Cahulawassee River in the Georgia wilderness before it is dammed; as it turns out, they picked the wrong river. While Lewis and Ed have some experience on the water, neither Bobby nor Drew is the outdoors type, so Lewis is paired with Drew and Ed with Bobby in the group's two canoes. Things go down hill when the group gets separated and Ed and Bobby encounter some of the local gentry sporting more guns than teeth.

"Deliverance" is widely to be considered Burt Reynolds' breakthrough performance, though Voight and the film as a whole also received copious amounts of praise. The movie is also responsible for the enduring phrase "He got a real pretty mouth, ain't he?" entering the lexicon. "Deliverance" writer James Dickey initially wanted actor Gene Hackman for the role of Ed, while Boorman suggested Lee Marvin, with Marlon Brando in the role of Lewis, according to IndieWire. Other screen legends attached to the film at one point or another include Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, Henry Fonda, George C. Scott, and Warren Beatty; Charlton Heston and Donald Sutherland both turned down the role of Ed, according to the outlet.

He turned up the heist temperature in Heat

Jon Voight was a part of an ensemble of Hollywood legends that appeared in the 1995 heist drama "Heat" from director Michael Mann. Professional thief Neal McCauley (Robert De Niro) and his crew get away with more than $1 million in United States bearer bonds in an armored car heist, but end up killing the guards in the process; they end up on the radar of LAPD Lt. Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino). At the suggestion of his fence, Nate (Voight), McCauley attempts to sell the bonds back to their owner — a money laundered named Roger Van Zant (William Fichtner) — who agrees but double crosses McCauley and his crew; they were wise to the ambush and instead launched a surprise attack of their own on their would-be killers. There's plenty of heat on them, but McCauley's crew — including right-hand man Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer) and Michael Cheritto (Tom Sizemore) — agree to do one more job, a bank heist with a score in excess of $12 million.

According to Radiator Heaven, Mann took Kilmer, Sizemore, and De Niro to California's Folsom State Prison, where they interviewed inmates in order to research their roles. By all accounts, the work paid off; "Heat" was widely praised at the time of its release and it remains and enduring critical favorite, boasting a Certified Fresh rating with an 87% critics score on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. But reviewers weren't the only ones paying attention; the film's legacy apparently also includes inspiring real-life criminals. French gangster Redoine Faid, who the BBC described as "devoted" to "Heat," once approached Mann at a film festival, telling the director "You were my technical adviser," and claimed to have watched the film numerous times to hone his skills as a bank robber.

Voight helped launch the Mission: Impossible franchise

Jon Voight helped launch the massively successful "Mission: Impossible" franchise in 1996, bringing plenty of gravitas to the huge film series' first installment. Voight took on the role of Impossible Mission Force (IMF) agent Jim Phelps, team leader, mentor to Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), and wife to Claire (Emmanuelle Béart). He and his crew are tasked with preventing suspected rogue agent Alexander Golitsyn (Marcel Iureş) from stealing the NOC list, a top-secret document that contains the identities of all of the Central intelligence Agency's (CIA) non-official cover agents (read: spies). If that information was compromised, there would be no shortage of potential buyers willing to offer a king's ransom and the CIA's assets would all be in danger, as well as its objectives essentially neutralized. Fortunately, Phelps' IMF crew is comprised of the best agents out there and should be more than capable of securing the NOC list. But things start going wrong and team members get picked off one by one. As Hunt's world comes crashing down around him, he doesn't know who to trust or which way to turn.

Voight's turn as Jim Phelps is something of a twist, as the character was the stolid director of the IMF on the classic "Mission: Impossible" television series, as portrayed by the late Peter Graves. It's a role for which Graves won a Golden Globe, as the Best TV Actor in a Drama series in 1966; Graves was also nominated for the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series the same year. Graves was reportedly displeased with the way the character was treated in the film, according to CNN. "I felt a little bad that they called him Phelps, and what happens to him happens," Graves said.

He played Nicolas Cage's father in National Treasure

After playing Larry Zoolander — father to Ben Stiller's Derek Zoolander in "Zoolander" — and Lord Richard Croft — father to Lara Croft, the character of his real-life daughter, Angelina Jolie, in "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" — Jon Voight seemed to have really leaned into transitioning to the "fatherly mentor" phase of his career in 2001. As such, he took on the role of former treasure hunter Patrick Gates, father of protagonist Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) in 2004's "National Treasure." The film tells the story of the younger Gates and his plan to steal the Declaration of Independence in order to prevent his former friend and partner Ian (Sean Bean) from doing so; did we mention both are convinced the document is the key to recovering a lost treasure that was discovered by the Knights Templar and later protected by the Freemasons? Oh, yeah, that's important. Along the way, the Gates guys also get help from archivist Dr. Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) and computer expert Riley (Justin Bartha). 

"National Treasure" was well-liked by casual viewers, though it cannot make the same claim about film critics. The film enjoys a 76% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, where it sports a lowly 47% critics score. But since studios let fans vote with their wallets — and "National Treasure" grossed nearly $350 million worldwide against a $100 million budget (via Box Office Mojo) — Walt Disney Pictures brought director Jon Turtletaub, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, screenplay writers Cormac and Marianne Wibberley, and a solid chunk of the cast back for the 2007 sequel, "National Treasure: Book of Secrets." Voight reprised his role as Patrick Gates for the film, which received lower scores from both critics and audiences — 36% and 67%, respectively (via Rotten Tomatoes). It managed to reverse the downward trend at the box office, however, eclipsing the first film with a gross of nearly $460 million.

He played the title character's father on Showtime's Ray Donovan

Starting in 2013, Jon Voight started dispensing his fatherly wisdom on the small screen, taking on the slightly less congenial role of Mickey Donovan, father of the title character on the Showtime crime drama "Ray Donovan." The series follows Liev Schreiber as the titular Hollywood fixer (read: professional criminal) to the stars. Got a dead prostitute in a hotel room full of cocaine? Ray's the guy to call; he'll get you the best possible outcome with a minimal amount of pain. Are you a prominent star with a big movie about to come out but you're being blackmailed with revenge porn? Ray's your guy. Was your father just released from prison and is your former-boxer brother molested as a child by a Catholic priest? Well, then you're Ray himself, and your father is Mickey Donovan (Voight) and your brother is Terrence "Bunchy" Donovan (Eddie Marsan), who also happens to be afflicted with Parkinson's disease. Ray Donovan learns that life isn't always easy when you make your living making other people's lives easier.

"Ray Donovan" enjoyed well-liked seven-year run before being abruptly canceled in 2020. While the series did not get its promised eighth and final season, Showtime is developing a feature length "Ray Donovan" movie to wrap up the franchise's storyline and resolve the Season 7 cliffhanger. TV Line reported that the film is expected to be released in 2022, with Voight set to appear as Mickey.