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Why Spence From Modern Love Looks So Familiar

Upon its 2019 release, Amazon Studios' romantic dramedy anthology series "Modern Love" became an instant and unexpected hit on the Prime Video streaming platform. It did so by fronting a trove of A-list Hollywood talent (including Anne Hathaway, Tina Fay, Dev Patel, Julia Garner, Cristin Milioti, and Catherine Keener, to name a few), and slotting them into real-life tales of romance culled from the New York Times' weekly article that gave the series its name. 

Given the success of the first season of "Modern Love," and the seemingly endless treasure trove of stories supplied by the show's source material, the matter of a second season really was more a matter of when than if. And sure enough, Season 2 of Amazon's "Modern Love" has finally arrived on the platform, bringing with it eight new tales of people struggling to make real connections in a world where that's become increasingly difficult. It also brings a fresh wave of very recognizable faces, some of whom will prove more familiar than others (i.e. Kit Harington, Anna Paquin, and Minnie Driver).

Among the faces you might vaguely recognize but still struggle to place is that of the man who plays Spence in the series' sixth episode, "In the Waiting Room of Estranged Spouses." It belongs to Garrett Hedlund. Here's where you've seen him before.

Garrett Hedlund played a talented, but troubled football star in Friday Night Lights

You may not realize it, but Hedlund has been working steadily in the movie biz for nearly two decades now. He earned his first screen credit for playing Patroclus, the young cousin of Brad Pitt's Achilles in 2004's "Troy." If you don't recognize the actor from that brief supporting role, it's likely you remember him from his turn in the film he followed "Troy" with, the beloved '04 high school football drama "Friday Night Lights." That film found Hedlund sharing the screen with the likes of Billy Bob Thornton, Lucas Black, Derek Luke, Connie Britton, and Amber Heard.

Based on the heart-rending true story of Odessa, Texas' Permian High School, and their football team's miraculous run at the state championship, "Friday Night Lights" found Hedlund portraying the team's talented but troubled fullback, Don Billingsley. Of all the tales told in "Friday Night Lights," Billingsley's is among the more difficult to watch, as it finds him struggling mightily to hold on to the football on the field, while dealing with a drunken, violently abusive father at home. And of all the winning performances spotting the film's narrative, it's easy enough to argue that Hedlund steals the show with a turn as outwardly raw as it is agonizingly internalized.

Tron: Legacy found Garrett Hedlund kicking it on the Grid

After wowing audiences in "Friday Night Lights" and a handful of other mid-level studio projects, Hedlund seemingly hit the big time in 2010 when he landed the lead role in Disney's sci-fi tentpole "Tron: Legacy." Directed by Joseph Kosinski, "Legacy" was a direct sequel to Disney's visually groundbreaking 1980 flick "Tron." That film, of course, found Jeff Bridges' genius software engineer Kevin Flynn sucked into the virtual world of his own creation.

"Tron: Legacy" picks up 20 years after the original, and follows Kevin's adult son Sam in his attempts to discover what really became of his father after his mysterious disappearance. And yes, that search leads Sam into the same virtual world that ensnared Kevin. With the elder Flynn's apprentice Quorra (Olivia Wilde) by their side, the re-united Flynns promptly set out to destroy the evil program that trapped and betrayed Kevin and get themselves back to the real world.

That probably seems like an overly intricate plot, but rest assured "Tron: Legacy" is all about the eye-candy, with Kosinski dropping truly mind-blowing visuals throughout. As it is, Bridges, Hedlund, and Wilde are essentially colors in Kosinski's vast virtual tapestry, though each manages to bring a resonant layer of humanity to their respective roles. 

Garrett Hedlund played a strong, silent type in the Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis

Though Hedlund has frequently played the part of headliner in his career, he's generally been at his best working within an ensemble, delivering notable work in lauded films like "On the Road," "Mudbound," and most recently "The United States vs. Billie Holiday." In that regard, one of Hedlund's best performances to date came in the obscenely-talented ensemble of the Coen Brothers' 2013 masterpiece, "Inside Llewyn Davis," which found the actor sharing the screen with Oscar Isaac, John Goodman, Carey Mulligan, Adam Driver, Alex Karpovsky, and Justin Timberlake, among others.

Hedlund turned up about halfway through the action, doing so as a chain-smoking Beat poet named Johnny Five who's driving John Goodman's jazz man Roland Turner through the Midwest. The character is an obvious homage to fast-driving Beat icon Neal Cassady, who Hedlund also portrayed a fictional version of in "On the Road." If you've seen "Llewyn Davis," you know things take a turn for the weird when Johnny and Roland pick Isaac's down-on-his-luck folkie up. You also know Hedlund steals every precious second of his screen time, delivering a transfixing, deeply internalized performance that's virtually impossible to look away from, and doing so with almost no dialogue to boot.