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Why The President From Rick And Morty Sounds So Familiar

The President is one of the most reliable and frequent recurring characters on "Rick and Morty." The Obama-like head of state has appeared three times in Season 5 of Adult Swim's hit animated comedy series alone. He showed up in the series' most recent episode, "Rick & Morty's Thanksploitation Spectacular." In the episode, Rick turns himself into a turkey in order to trick the President into pardoning him for crimes he's committed when the POTUS does his annual Thanksgiving pardoning-of-the-turkey ceremony. This, of course, has unintended consequences that lead to everyone being turned into turkeys and a big war, as is par for the course on "Rick and Morty." In the end, Rick and Morty do get their pardon, and the audience comes away knowing more about the depth of Rick and the President's mutually antagonistic, grudgingly respectful relationship. Or, as Summer puts it in the episode, "just f*** and get it over with."

The voice of the president is a very familiar one, and it belongs to an actor who's appeared in over 300 live-action and voice roles, according to IMDb. He first worked with "Rick and Morty" co-creator Dan Harmon on his previous show "Community." He's the great character actor Keith David. Here are a handful of the many places you've seen or heard him besides "Rick and Morty."

Keith David made it to the end in The Thing

Keith David's first movie role is an iconic one, and it played a big part in launching his career. He plays Childs, a mechanic at an Antarctic research base under attack from a hostile shapeshifting alien, in John Carpenter's classic sci-fi horror film "The Thing." Childs is part of the film's unforgettable ending, a scene in which he and R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell), the only other survivor, sit and share a drink, not knowing if the other is the Thing, and knowing that whoever of them is still human will not survive the freezing cold night.

"One of the great significances of the movie was the Black guy lives," David said, reflecting on what's special about the movie in an interview with Entertainment Weekly for the movie's 35th anniversary. "Traditionally, cinematically, you know, usually the Black guy gets bumped off, if not in the first act, you know, he certainly doesn't make it to the end. I made it to the end."

And for the record, he doesn't necessarily think Childs was the Thing, even though there's a lot less steam coming out of his mouth when he talks than MacReady's.

Keith David is the King of the Platoon

Keith David has appeared in many, many, movies over the course of his career, and one of them won the Academy Award for Best Picture: Oliver Stone's 1986 Vietnam War drama "Platoon," in which he plays King, a wise, experienced soldier who is just trying to survive long enough to go home. 

"All you got to do is make it out of here," he tells the morally and ethically conflicted young soldier Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen). "Then it's all gravy. Every day, the rest of your life, gravy." 

He also has a memorable scene early in the film when he asks the college dropout Taylor why he came to Vietnam in the first place. Taylor answers that he didn't think it was fair that poor kids get sent off to fight in wars and rich kids stay home. And King gives him a reality check about his crusading idealism, saying "You gotta be rich in the first place to think like that." He means that Taylor's economic background gives him the privilege to make a choice about whether he wants to fight. People like King don't get that choice. And if they did, they would choose not to, because it's terrible.

Keith David has a very long fight in They Live

Keith David reunited with "The Thing" director John Carpenter for 1988's "They Live," a cult classic sci-fi social satire in which he participates in what Collider has called one of the greatest cinematic fist fights of all time. The setup is hilariously simple: Nada (pro wrestler Roddy Piper) has a pair of sunglasses that allow him to see subliminal messages that turn Earth's population into mindless consumers, as well as revealing the skull-faced aliens who pose as rich and powerful humans and spread these messages. He wants his co-worker Frank (David) to put on the sunglasses and see the truth. Frank doesn't want to. "Either put on these glasses, or start eatin' that trash can," Nada tells him.

Then, for six straight minutes, Nada and Frank beat each other up in a back alley while Nada tries to force the glasses on Frank and Frank refuses. It keeps going and going and going, and just when you think it's over, it keeps going even longer still. It's hilarious. And then at the end, Frank is too tired to resist when Nada finally puts the glasses on him, and he sees the truth.

In an interview with Syfy Wire, David said the three days he spent filming the fight were some of the most fun he's ever had. "Roddy, he taught me so much about how to sell it," David said, because Piper's wrestling background made him extremely adept at acting out fight choreography. "I hit him a couple times, but he never hit me."

Keith David was perfect for Gargoyles

David's deep, smooth, and sonorous voice has made him an in-demand voice actor and narrator. His voice is arguably more recognizable than his face. He's been heard in countless movies, TV shows, video games, and commercials. Arguably, his best known voice performance is on "Gargoyles," the animated fantasy television series that's still a cult classic among nineties kids. And in that series, David served as the voice of Goliath, the leader of the titular group of ancient Scottish mythological beings brought out of hibernation in modern New York City, who turn to stone during the day and fight crime at night.

During an oral history of the show for Syfy Wire, David said that Goliath was the type of role he was born to play. "Some actors have a wider range than others, but any actor has one thing he or she can do perfectly. If they can't do anything else, they can do that," he said. "For me, this was one of those."

Keith David crossed between worlds in Coraline

Another of Keith David's classic voice performances is the cat in the creepy stop-motion fantasy –- or should we call it folk horror? –- film, "Coraline," which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2009. The cat whom David plays is an inscrutable stray who lives in the title character's neighborhood and can effortlessly cross between parallel universes. The animal helps Coraline (Dakota Fanning) in her fight to free herself and other trapped souls from the terrifying Other Mother (Teri Hatcher). His silky delivery mean he has some of the film's most drolly funny lines, such as "I don't like rats at the best of times, but this one was sounding an alarm."

The film's director, Henry Selick, said that the combination of character and actor is absolutely perfect. "I think the marriage of the cat with Keith David, the voice actor, is a powerful, wonderful combo," Selick told NYC Movie Guru. "I'd love to have the cat's perspective [in another film]. He's a guardian angel, but why is he one?"