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Why Lurch From The Addams Family Looks So Familiar

What would "The Addams Family" be without its comedically morose cast of characters? With an odd mixture of charm and depravity, the family captures the hearts of fans in everything from its original comic strip to its classic TV show, and the remarkable series of live-action movies. While all three examples are significant in their own right, modern audiences are probably most familiar with the family through the 1991 film and its sequels, "The Addams Family Values" and "Addams Family Reunion."

These two films provide the most recognizable versions of Gomez, Morticia, Fester, Pugsley, and Wednesday to date. While the movies focused mainly on the core family, certain side characters were pushed to the shadows. One such character was Lurch, the oversized butler whose monotonous grumbles and threatening presence were offset by his good manners and loyal disposition. 

The Lurch of the 1960s TV series was portrayed by actor Ted Cassidy, whose trademark subterranean voice lent to the character's dry sense of humor (via Addams Family Wiki). Decades later, Dutch actor Carel Struycken would come to fill Lurch's enormous shoes in the live-action films. Struycken's Lurch was undoubtedly based on Cassidy's iconic portrayal. However, Lurch isn't the only big, weird role Struycken has taken. Though the lack of Lurch makeup might make it difficult to see, you may have noticed why the behemoth butler looks so familiar to you.

Struycken lurches through Star Trek

Struycken first started acting in the late 1970s, when he was picked up off the street for a role in The Beatles' "Sgt. Peppers' Lonely Hearts Club Band." He would go on to land other roles in projects like "Ewoks: The Battle for Endor" and "St. Elsewhere" before landing his first recurring role as Mr. Homn in "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

According to the Memory Alpha Wiki, Homn first appeared in the 1987 episode, "Haven." His character is not unlike Lurch's in that he's a normally silent and enigmatic butler. Working in the servitude of Deanna Troi's mother, Ambassador Lwaxana, Homn would appear by her side in several more episodes of "TNG," such as "Manhunt," "Half a Life," and "The Cost of Living."

Struycken would later reappear in the "Star Trek" franchise as the digital monster, The Spectre. The character only appears for one episode of "Star Trek: Voyager" ("The Thaw") and is obscured by a bulky costume. As a result, it's impossible to tell that Struycken is the man behind the mask. Still, it's another interesting entry in Struycken's "Star Trek" history.

Struycken struck a giant chord with Twin Peaks

In 1990, Struycken was cast in David Lynch's surreal noir drama show, "Twin Peaks," as one of his most well known roles, "The Giant" (via IMDb). As a character, The Giant is steeped in ambiguity. He only appears occasionally in the dreams of FBI Agent Dale Cooper to provide cryptic clues to solving the murder of Laura Palmer.

Struycken would portray The Giant for the entirety of "Twin Peaks'" original run. However, the character did not return for the series' 2017 revival. Instead, Struycken played a (potentially) different character referred to as "The Fireman." Both The Fireman and The Giant are presented as something a bit beyond human comprehension. As a result, some fans suspect that the two are one and the same, a theory corroborated by Struycken himself in a 2017 interview with Rue Morgue.

However, "Twin Peaks" was merely Struycken's first well-known role. He has been consistently landing roles for the past three decades. In all likelihood, there are other popular franchises where you've seen Struycken.

Struycken makes it big in MIB

Despite the fact that his role is relatively small, Struycken plays a rather important character in the first "Men in Black" movie. The plot hinges on MIB agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) as they struggle to find a mysterious alien object known as "The Galaxy" to prevent interstellar war with an alien race. Struycken plays one of the aliens guarding the Galaxy while taking refuge on Earth.

Struycken's character, who is an unnamed Arquillian, appears briefly in two scenes. The first has him discussing the Galaxy with a member of the Arquillian royalty before both are killed by the alien "Bug" sent to steal the item. Struycken appears later as a corpse when J and K come to the morgue, where his body is kept to investigate the Galaxy.

Struycken has continued to act since he appeared in "Men In Black," though that was his last mainstream movie. In the following years, he has mostly appeared as minor characters in television series and other films such as "Charmed" and (more recently) "Doctor Sleep." Struycken's latest project is 2021's "The Eden Theory," where he sticks to his guns as the ambiguous figure simply credited as "The Stranger."