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Why Joe Bob From Reservation Dogs Looks So Familiar

Over the course of the last decade, Taika Waititi has become one of the biggest names in Hollywood, impressing audiences and critics alike with such hits as "What We Do in the Shadows," "Hunt for the Wilderpeople," and "Jojo Rabbit." So, it's no surprise that there's plenty of buzz about his new TV series on FX, "Reservation Dogs." The series follows a group of Indigenous teenagers in the quieter part of Oklahoma as they cause trouble and save up money, as part of an effort to move to California. This often puts them against petty criminals and other citizens. Basically, they have youthful adventures filled with rebellion and angst. Their exploits are not without heartache though, as the gang are mourning the loss of their friend Daniel — which is the catalyst for their desire to leave Oklahoma for California.

Between the acting, the concept, and the writing of Waititi and Sterlin Harjo, the show is a quirky masterpiece, filled with idiosyncratic characters who all add to the general uniqueness of the series in their own way. And though the main characters are all mostly newcomers, there's still a few familiar faces thrown in the cast for good measure. One of those is Joe Bob, who is played by actor David Maldonado. 

Maldonado has had plenty of other supporting roles over the years, so this probably isn't the first time you've seen him on TV. Here's why he looks so familiar.

David Maldonado got his first mainstream roles in Prison Break and Friday Night Lights

After a few appearances in short films like "Surface Calm" and "The Deal," David Maldonado landed his first big TV series in 2006 with a supporting role in the hit series "Prison Break." The actor made his debut in Season 2, Episode 2, "Otis." He appeared as a bailiff for the Cook County Courthouse who escorts L. J. Burrows (Marshall Allman) into a room with FBI Agent Mahone (William Fichtner). The agent tries to get the 16-year old to get his dad Lincoln (Dominic Purcell) to turn himself in to the authorities — to no avail. It wasn't a huge role in the episode, but it was enough for the actor to land an appearance in another fan-favorite show in 2006, "Friday Night Lights." He had an uncredited appearance as one of the security guards in Season 1, Episode 7, "Homecoming." 

Working on two well-known TV projects kept Maldonado employed in a number of smaller projects for the next few years until 2013 when he appeared in the "Dallas" revival as Rollie Tremaine in Season 2, Episode 3, "Sins of the Father."

David Maldonado worked with vampires in From Dusk till Dawn

In 2015, David Maldonado briefly appeared in "From Dusk Till Dawn" — the TV adaptation of Robert Rodriguez's 1996 film of the same name. In Season 2, Episode 1 — titled "Opening Night" — Maldonado played Balthazar Ambrose (what a name for a human character in a vampire series!) who is one of the tetchy managers at the Greely Meathouse. Balthazar has worked with the Culebras for years thanks to his job, which is why he isn't in the least surprised when Ritchie (Zane Holtz) and Santanico (Eiza Gonzalez) reveal their monstrous sides.

Anyway, Maldonado's performance is fun to watch, because the audience is just waiting for him to get slaughtered by a Culebra. Balthazar constantly leers at women like Satanico, so it's great to see him get his comeuppance in Episode 8, "The Last Temptation of Richard Gecko." He meets a grisly end when Ritchie drinks his blood to take on the manager's appearance. It's all part of the Gecko Brothers' plan to get into Jackknife Jed's — the bar run by Amanico Malvado (Esai Morales). The villain is one of the Nine Lords of Night and likes owning Culebras as his own personal slaves. Nice guy.

David Maldonado got more of the spotlight in Deepwater Horizon

The 2016 film "Deepwater Horizon" tells the horrifying true story of the 2010 rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Mark Wahlberg plays Mike Williams — a real-life electronics technician on the Deepwater Horizon — and he is joined by David Maldonado as the Captain of the rig, Curt Kuchta. When the oil well ignites, Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez) believes that the Deepwater Horizon itself is in danger of going up in flames and tries to call the Coast Guard for assistance. Unfortunately, Maldonado's Captain Kuchta gets angry that Fleytas sends out a Mayday, slapping the radio out of her hand.

Kuchta makes the wrong call here, and the rig obviously becomes a dangerous inferno. Most of Maldonado's scenes take place on the Deepwater Horizon's bridge, where he coordinates with other managers like Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell). The star expertly changes Kuchta's attitude when he realizes just how deadly the situation is — immediately sending out a mayday call himself. Maldonado's work as Kuchta was great to see, and he holds his own next to the likes of Kurt Russell and Mark Wahlberg, which is definitely no easy feat to pull off.

David Maldonado joined the The Tomorrow War

David Maldonado dramatic prowess has landed him bigger and bigger roles in recent years. For instance, he appeared in the 2020 Showtime drama, "Your Honor," where he got to act alongside the likes of "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston and Michael Stuhlbarg. Here, Maldonado played Lieutenant Brendan Cusack, a corrupt member of the New Orleans Police Department with ties to Stuhlbarg's mob boss, Jimmy Baxter. 

However, perhaps more significantly, the star had a major supporting role in one of the most surprising films of 2021, "The Tomorrow War."

Most audiences and critics had low expectations for the science fiction action thriller when it debuted on Amazon Prime Video instead of getting a theatrical release. Thankfully, it proved itself to be a solidly entertaining adventure. The film follows present day soldiers who are drafted to fight hordes of bloodthirsty aliens twenty years in the future, and David Maldonado starred as Dodd, a member of the U.S. Department of Defense who is coordinating the draft. In "The Tomorrow War," Dodd gives a rousing, inspiring speech to those heading off to war, explaining "Whatever your age, occupation, ethnicity, or gender, whatever your background, you are now heroes." He also adds "You answered a call, it was a cry for help across time." 

We've got goosebumps. Clearly, Maldonado's got the dramatic chops to take on meatier roles, so let's hope we see more from him in the future ... as long as that future is not one that is filled with deadly aliens, eh?