Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Frank Powell From Hot Rod Looks So Familiar

In 2007, several years before appearing in the surprise hit police sitcom "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," Andy Samberg landed his first major starring role as the titular stuntman in "Hot Rod." Samberg stars as Rob Kimble, growing up in the shadow of his dead stuntman father whom he believed worked with legendary daredevil Evel Knievel. Rod longs to follow in his father's fringed white motorcycle-booted footsteps, there's just one minor problem: he kind of sucks as a stuntman and endures the eternal mockery of his stepfather, Frank. After his most recent failure, Rod returns home to find that Frank desperately needs a heart transplant, one that insurance doesn't cover and his family cannot afford in the slightest. That's when Rod's imaginary light bulb turns on: he can prove himself to Frank and simultaneously earn money to pay for the operation with a series of successful stunts, though that pretty much describes what he's already been trying to do his entire life, save for the medical fundraising part; how will it be different?

Rod turns to childhood chums Dave ("Saturday Night Live" alum Bill Hader) and Rico (Danny McBride of "Eastbound & Down") and half-brother Kevin (Samberg's Lonely Island troupe mate Jorma Taccone) for help with his idea and enlists would-be girlfriend Denise (Isla Fisher from "Wedding Crashers") as well. This is just the team he needs to get his act together and finally show Frank the kind of man he is. All of the actors behind Rod's compatriots are easily recognizable as the stars they are, though all that fake tan may give you pause as to the man playing Frank. It's veteran British actor Ian McShane, and here's why Frank Powell from "Hot Rod" looks so familiar

McShane played Al Swearengen on HBO's western drama series Deadwood

Ian McShane's acting resume extends back nearly six decades to 1962, according to his IMDb page, though many of his projects were confined to British film and television. In 1989, however, he appeared in 13 episodes of the American primetime soap opera "Dallas" as Don Lockwood, and 15 years later he revisited American television in HBO's acclaimed western drama series "Deadwood." McShane took on the role of saloon-owner and pimp Al Swearengen, a character based on the real-life historical figure. Swearengen is one of several key players in the titular South Dakota town in the period leading up to the Black Hills Gold Rush, joined by sheriff and hardware store proprietor Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant), Bullock's business partner Sol Star (John Hawkes), deputy Charlie Utter (Dayton Callie), and Swearengen's rival brothel owner Cy Tolliver (Powers Boothe), one of the few main characters not based on a real-life Deadwood resident.

His turn as Al Swearengen nabbed McShane the 2005 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama. It's a role he reprised for 2019's "Deadwood: The Movie," set a decade in the future as South Dakota celebrates joining the United States. "I love him to bits," McShane said of his character (via The Los Angeles Times). "It all comes back in a heartbeat," he added.  "All of the years. All of the worthy things that he is. All the [stuff] that he's done, which he's atoned for a million times, but it will never be enough. But he makes up for it by other [stuff] that he does for everybody else and tries to hide."

Olyphant opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about his character's on-screen relationship with McShane's, saying "One could make an argument that they were each allowed to exist because of the other. Perhaps Seth didn't have to do certain things because he knew Al would and vice versa."

He portrayed Paul Griffen in We Are Marshall

Ian McShane's next role — prior to voicing Captain Hook in "Shrek the Third" and appearing as Frank in "Hot Rod" — came in the 2006 period sports drama and biopic "We Are Marshall," starring Matthew McConaughey. The film tells a dramatized version of events surrounding the 1970 plane crash that killed members of the Marshall University football team and its coaches and personnel, in addition to the plane's crew. McConaughey takes on the role of head coach Jack Lengyel, who must rebuild the school's football program from scratch alongside assistant coach William "Red" Dawson (Matthew Fox) and university president Donald Dedmon (David Strathairn). In doing so, they help heal the Marshall University community.

While "We Are Marshall" is based on true events and many of the characters are depictions of real-life people, McShane's was not. Instead, Paul Griffen was a composite character, the aspects of whom were meant to represent multiple people in the community and their respective stories. "We did two [main] composite characters and the reason we did that is because there were so many people," screenwriter Jamie Linden said (via The Herald-Dispatch). "One of the main composite characters was 'Paul Griffen' played by Ian McShane, who worked in the steel mill and had a son on the 1970 football team who died in the crash. The other was 'Annie Cantrell,' played by Kate Mara, who was a cheerleader and engaged to Griffen's son.

In a 2006 interview with IGN, alongside Mara, McShane explained the role of their composite characters. "We represent the emotional impact of the crash on the town." Referencing Mara's role, he continued: "That character's born there, she lives there, she thinks she's going to have a future there; but she doesn't."

Ian McShane took on the role of Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Following "We Are Marshall," Ian McShane performed a slate of voice work, ranging from the aforementioned "Shrek the Third" and an episode of "Spongebob Squarepants" to providing the voice of Ragnar Sturlusson in "The Golden Compass" and Tai Lung in "Kung Fu Panda." Following these and a handful of other projects, he sailed his way back to the ocean of big-screen blockbusters for "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," the fourth film of Disney's popular pirate theme park ride franchise. For the film, McShane took on the role of the most famous pirate known in Blackbeard, upon whom many archetypal scallywag characters are based. 

For the fourth film, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is tasked by King George II with locating the Fountain of Youth before the Spanish can track it down. To do so, he'll be sailing under his old compatriot Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), the mutinous first mate who'd marooned him in the franchise's first outing. Jack bails on that idea, only to find that he's being impersonated by his old flame Angelica (Penelope Cruz) to recruit pirates for another voyage. Said other voyage is with none other than Angelica's father, the legendary Blackbeard, who impresses Jack into his service for the voyage.

McShane opened up about playing Blackbeard, one of his notable villainous roles, though he says they're now referred to as "complicated characters" (via Fandom/YouTube). "You get the best lines, most of the time." McShane also mentioned he appreciated the opportunity to work on a project his grandchildren would actually be able to watch. "The other work [is usually] a little too adult for them, so they'll be thrilled."

McShane plays Winston in the John Wick franchise

After appearing in the massive "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, Ian McShane went on to help launch another huge cinematic brand in the hard-hitting series of "John Wick" films. McShane takes on the role of Winston, the manager of the Continental hotel who serves as ally and aid to Keanue Reeves' title character. In the first film, he twice points John in the direction of those whom he seeks, informing him Viggo's (Michael Nyqvist) son Iosef (Alfie Allen) — who killed John's dog in the first act and set the entire sequence of events in motion — is under armed guard at the Red Circle club and later telling him of Viggo's planned helicopter escape. 

Winston shows up again to offer John wisdom in the 2017 sequel "John Wick: Chapter 2," reminding him that he is honor-bound to repay the debt Santino D'Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) is coming to collect; to refuse it would break one of the two cardinal rules of the underground. When John takes that into consideration and rejects the assignment anyway, killing Santino in the hotel's lounge, he also breaks the second commandment — no killing at the Continental — though Winston is kind enough to delay broadcasting John's subsequent excommunication in order to give him a head start.

McShane reprised his role as Winston for 2019's third "John Wick" movie, "Parabellum," which the scholarly  — or anyone who read Reeves' interview with Entertainment Weekly —will recognize as Latin for "Prepare for war" as the second half of the phrase "si vis pacem, para bellum," which means "If you want peace, prepare for war." And that's precisely what John must do, as the contract on him has gone global and is worth a fortune. Winston is being forced to resign for helping John and John is tasked with retiring him in order to get back into the High Council's good graces. Awkward.

He portrayed Professor Trevor Bruttenholm in the 2019 Hellboy reboot

Beginning in 2017, Ian McShane took on the role of the mysterious Mr. Wednesday in "American Gods," who's really Odin, the chief god in the Norse pantheon, one of several Old Gods who are afraid of being replaced by modern gods like Technology. In 2019, he took on a role with less divine euphemism in the "Hellboy" reboot, taking on the mantle of Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, founder of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense and surrogate father to the titular demon Anung Un Rama, played by "Stranger Things" star David Harbour. Professor Bruttenholm is on hand to guide Hellboy once more, as yet another evil entity seeks to use him to bring about the Apocalypse — that's really got to get old after a while. The "Hellboy" reboot also introduces Daniel Dae Kim as Major Ben Daimio, a role initially given to Ed Skrein.

McShane's take on the professor is a decidedly harsher one than the kindly one turned in by late actor John Hurt for 2004's first "Hellboy." He described his working relationship with his co-star in an interview with Collider, saying "David and I had such a shorthand together that it ws like we couldn't screw each other up ... We met and we had this great relationship, chippy but like a father and a son who'd been separated."