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Why Lynn From Bad Teacher Looks So Familiar

The year is 2021, and there are some very good movies celebrating their 10th anniversaries, including lauded titles like "Drive," "Take Shelter," "Source Code," and "Martha Marcy May Marlene." While those dramas are well-worth revisiting, 2011 also saw the release of classic comic romps like "Bridesmaids," "Goon," "Attack the Block," and "Horrible Bosses," not to mention a lovably low-brow comedy that's been largely forgotten over the years: "Bad Teacher," which pits Cameron Diaz as the titular educator who's forced to return to the job she hates to pay for the breast implants she thinks she needs to win the affections of a wealthy co-worker (Justin Timberlake).

Released to middling reviews (via Rotten Tomatoes) but pulling in a decent gross (via Box Office Mojo) in 2011, "Bad Teacher" is hardly renowned these days as high cinematic art, which is okay, because it's really not trying to be. In fact the film unabashedly revels in its gutter-comedy approach, with writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky peppering just enough heart and humanity into the fray to keep viewers invested. Likewise, the film is bolstered by solid performances from its leads, and a stellar supporting cast including Lucy Punch, Thomas Lennon, Katheryn Newton, and Kaitlyn Dever. While the faces of those actors were no doubt familiar to many, so too was that of the scene-stealing actor who portrayed Elizabeth Halsey's foul-mouthed bestie Lynn in the film. It belongs to beloved character actor Phyllis Smith. Here's where you've seen Lynn from "Bad Teacher" before. 

Phyllis Smith made a brief appearance on Fox's iconic cut hit comedy Arrested Development

Phyllis Smith's first small screen credit came with a brief appearance in iconic comedy "Arrested Development." She didn't have a single line of dialogue in the one scene in which she appeared, which came in the 14th episode of the legendary cult hit's second season. Young George Michael Bluth (Michael Cera) launched an ill-fated high school presidential campaign opposite the dimwitted but far more popular Steve Holt (Justin Grant Wade). As Will Arnett's shamelessly self-absorbed Gob Bluth had recently discovered Steve was his son, that showdown hilariously fueled the fires of sibling rivalry between Gob and his brother Michael (Jason Bateman), George Michael's dad.

Smith's brief "Arrested Development" appearance found her and a few board members from The Bluth Company caught in the middle of Gob and Michael's ongoing ridiculousness. And even if Phyllis didn't have any dialogue in the scene, her facial expressions alone are worthy of a laugh. 

Phyllis Smith was often the hilarious dead pan heart of The Office

Those who did recognize Lynn in "Bad Teacher" are almost certainly among the many diehard fans of NBC's legendary workplace mockumentary series "The Office," because Phyllis Smith was a regular presence on the series during its nine-season run on the network. "The Office" was, of course, based on Ricky Gervais' hit BBC show of the same name that followed the employees of a small business through their mundane daily routines, which are oft-interrupted by the outlandish antics of their mindless boss (Gervais) as a documentary crew captures every cringe-worthy moment

The U.S. version of show didn't venture far from that groundbreaking format, simply transplanting the story to small town Pennsylvania and beefing up some of the character's backstories. The U.S. series became a smash-hit in its own right, making breakout stars of Steve Carrell, John Krasinski, Jenna Fisher, Ed Helms, and Rainn Wilson in the process. Even still, the series' regular cast of supporting players were often the scene-stealing stars of the show. That includes Smith, whose endearingly deadpan Phyllis Vance (formerly Lapin) was as regular a scene-stealer on "The Office" as the series mustered over its 188-episode run.

The OA found Phyllis Smith enmeshed in a fantastical tale too wild for words

Phyllis Smith has largely been known for her comedic prowess throughout her career, and has been cast accordingly in virtually every project she's booked. Such as it was, fans of her work in "The Office" and beyond were undoubtedly stunned when Smith got super serious for her role as a troubled high school teacher in Netflix's refreshingly original series "The OA." They may not have been as shocked to find Smith's dramatic chops every bit as legit as her comedic ones.

Created by Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij ("Sound of My Voice"), "The OA" followed Prairie Johnson (Marling), a young blind woman who, after having disappeared for seven years, returns home with her eyesight fully intact. From there, things get weird as she convinces Smith's character, Betty Broderick-Allen, and a handful of youngsters that she's actually an angel incarnate and needs them to help her perform a sacred ritual that will open a portal to another dimension and allow her to rescue her friends who are being held in captivity by a mad scientist. Yeah, like we said, things got weird during season 1 of "The OA." As for season 2, it features an encounter with a psychic octopus and that's not even the weirdest thing that happens. In that context, funny lady Phyllis Smith delivering a soul-stirring, often heartbreaking dramatic performance in both seasons hardly qualifies as weird at all, though it definitely takes a little getting used to.