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Why Carrie From Road House Looks So Familiar

The 1989 action movie "Road House," starring the late Patrick Swayze as club bouncer James Dalton, was an undeniable disappointment upon its initial release. Panned by critics (via The New York Times) and hampered by a poor showing at the box office, as noted by Yardbarker, the film was plagued by its shaky plot and nonsensical dialogue. For example, at one point during a brawl, an ex-con named Jimmy (Marshall Teague) snarls in Dalton's ear, "I used to f*** guys like you in prison." The one-liner was meant to be intimidating but came off as both confusing and bizarrely homophobic. 

"Road House" did, however, boast an ensemble cast of talented actors in addition to Swayze, including Kathleen Wilhoite as Carrie Ann, a waitress and occasional singer at the club. Carrie Ann takes an immediate shine to Dalton and even graces the audience with a rendition of the Eddie Floyd song, "Knock On Wood," while backed up by the Jeff Healey Band. Today, "Road House" has garnered a reputation for being an action movie classic, and gained Wilhoite greater recognition among fans.

During her expansive career, she worked on a bevy of projects that you might have come across. Not quite sure where you've seen her before? Let's check out some of her most recognizable roles below. 

Kathleen Wilhoite had an early leading role on the big screen

Although Kathleen Wilhoite has yet to be widely recognized for her ability as a leading actress, her most prominent leading role came early in her career as she starred in the 1986 thriller "Murphy's Law" alongside iconic Hollywood legend Charles Bronson. Bronson played Jack Murphy, a detective framed for murdering his ex-wife. After being taken into custody, he is able to escape, but he finds himself handcuffed to Arabelle, a car thief played by Willhoite. The film received mixed reviews (via Variety) and didn't generate much buzz at the box office.  

Though not often seen as the main protagonist, Wilhoite is frequently cast as a guest star and has appeared on a plethora of hugely popular series. A few that you may have spotted her in include "The OA," "Jane the Virgin," "The Mentalist," "Grey's Anatomy," "Criminal Minds," "The Ghost Whisperer," "Boston Legal," "Charmed," "Law and Order: SVU," "Quantum Leap," "Mad About You," "Twin Peaks," and "Will and Grace." Wilhoite even had a seven-episode arc in the early '90s on "L.A. Law" as Rosalie Hendrickson, who eventually marries Benny Stulwicz (Larry Drake). 

Kathleen Wilhoite had a recurring role on ER as Chloe Lewis

During Season 1 and 2 of ER — when the show still starred George Clooney as the hunky Dr. Doug Ross — Wilhoite portrayed Chloe Lewis, the troubled and drug-addicted sister of original cast member Dr. Susan Lewis (Sherry Stringfield). Chloe is the catalyst for much of Susan's story arc, and after Chloe gives birth to her daughter Susie, she abandons the child with her sister in Season 1. The following year, Chloe regains custody of the abandoned baby, leaving Susan completely heartbroken. 

Then in the first ER crossover episode with "Third Watch," Chloe is saved from an overdose, but her daughter Susie is missing in New York. The child is eventually found drugged and locked in the backroom of a stranger's apartment, otherwise unharmed. At the end of the episode, Susan urges her sister to get help for her addiction, but Chloe vanishes from the ER with her daughter and is never seen again. 

Although Chloe could easily be vilified, Wilhoite is able to bring enough compassion and humanity to the role to allow us to sympathize with the character's struggles. We are able to see the potential good in her, the same way her sister Susan does, and we can't help but root for her recovery. Wilhoite's portrayal makes it clear that Chloe's love for her daughter and sister are genuine, as are her numerous attempts to rehabilitate her life. 

She played memorable supporting characters in two major 2000 films

In addition to her many television roles, Kathleen Wilhoite has also played a string of supporting characters in larger Hollywood productions. For example, in the 2000 drama "Pay It Forward," Wilhoite plays Bonnie Anderson, the AA sponsor and mentor for Arlene McKinney (Helen Hunt). Bonnie is the one who gives Arlene perspective on her life as she struggles through her sobriety. This support helps lead Arlene to encourage her son Trevor's (Haley Joel Osment) efforts to improve the world, one good deed at a time.

That same year, Wilhoite also appeared opposite Renee Zellweger in "Nurse Betty," as Sue Ann Rogers. Sue is the lone friend of Betty Sizemore, and both are avid fans of the soap opera "A Reason to Love." When Betty has a nervous breakdown after witnessing her husband's murder, Sue takes Betty into her home and continues to tape her favorite show for her after her disappearance. Sue Ann is also critical in figuring out Betty's motivation while she is in a delusional state, and tries to convince the authorities to look for her.

Kathleen Wilhoite found a home on Gilmore Girls as Liz Danes

Kathleen Wilhoite might be best known today for her recurring role as Liz Danes on the highly popular TV series "Gilmore Girls." Liz was the younger sister of no-nonsense diner owner Luke Danes (Scott Patterson) and the mother of Jess Mariano (Milo Ventimiglia) – Rory Gilmore's (Alexis Bledel) love interest. Liz sent the 17-year-old Jess to live with Luke in Season 2 while she struggled with drug abuse and a series of toxic relationships. However, after achieving sobriety, she first appears in Season 4 Episode 12 to pay her brother and son a visit. After marrying her boyfriend T.J., the couple makes Stars Hollow their permanent home, and in Season 7, Episode 9, Liz gives birth to Jess' half-sister and Luke's niece, Doula. 

According to The Paley Center for Media, there were initially plan's for Ventimiglia's character to have his own spinoff show that would explore his relationship with his father. The Season 3 episode titled "Here Comes the Sun," where Jess ventures to California, was intended as a backdoor pilot for "Windward Circle" — imagined as a male offshoot of the series. Ultimately, the idea was abandoned due to budgetary reasons, and the show creators pivoted to exploring Jess' connection with his mother instead. The following season, Wilhoite became a part of the ensemble cast and ultimately appeared in 16 episodes between 2004 and 2007. 

With such a full resume, it's no wonder that Wilhoite's face seems familiar. Who knows where she might pop up next?