Why Caliban From Logan Looks So Familiar

When Caliban first steps onto the screen in Logan, it's a bit difficult to make out his face, as he's covered from head to toe. But after he took off that bandana and those goggles, a little bell of recognition probably went off in your head—there's something familiar about the photosensitive mutant tracker.

If you check out the guy on IMDb, you'll see the actor under all that makeup is really Stephen Merchant, a 6'7" Englishman who's actually far funnier than Charles Xavier's caretaker. But where on earth have we seen this guy before? Let's take a look at Mr. Merchant's filmography and find out why the actor who played Caliban looks so familiar.

The Office (2001–2003)

Abbott and Costello. Lennon and McCartney. Team Rocket's Jessie and James. There are just a few of the great duos throughout history. And somewhere up on that list of terrific twosomes, you'll find Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais.

It seems the bespectacled Englishman will always be inextricably linked with the notorious insult comic, probably because they've done their best work together. They first met in 1997, when Gervais gave Merchant a job interview at London's Xfm radio station, and after working under Gervais for a bit, the duo eventually teamed up as equals, putting their brainpower together to create one of the greatest TV shows ever made: The Office.

In addition to creating the British cringe comedy, Merchant also had a small appearance in series two, showing up as one of Gareth's (Mackenzie Crook) friends, the Ogg Monster. David Brent (Gervais) wastes no time laying into the poor guy, making a variety of cracks about the man's height and eyes before the Ogg Monster runs off crying.

But in addition to coming up with the British series, Merchant and Gervais both served as executive producers on the American version. Merchant also directed an episode titled "Customer Survey," and most importantly, both comedians wrote the episode "The Convict." In other words, Merchant helped give the world Prison Mike, the bandana-wearing convict who kidnapped the president's son, and for that, we're all eternally grateful.

Extras (2005–2007) and Life's Too Short (2011–2013)

Two years after the final Office Christmas special, Merchant and Gervais introduced the world to Extras, a comedy co-produced by HBO and BBC. The series follows Gervais as Andy Millman, a desperate extra trying to break into the spotlight. Merchant plays Darren Lamb, Andy's incompetent agent who's better suited for a job at the Carphone Warehouse than landing his client a gig. After all, he doesn't know the difference between "Harry Potter" and "Halle Berry."

On the other hand, Darren is particularly skilled at undercutting poor Andy, turning down auditions because he thinks the actor is too fat or actively trying to give Andy's parts to another client, Barry (Shaun Williamson) from EastEnders. Merchant's performance as Darren scored a best actor prize at the British Comedy Awards.

The Merchant-Gervais machine didn't stop after Extras. In 2011, the two reunited for Life's Too Short, a series based around Warwick Davis, the actor who played Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi. Inspired by Davis's real-life stories of being a little person in show business, Merchant and Gervais play exaggerated versions of themselves who actively avoid Davis as he's constantly asking for their help. Sadly, the two haven't worked together since as they're busy with their own projects, but in a 2014 interview with Splitsider, Merchant said, "I'm sure there'll be something down the road."

Hot Fuzz (2007)

One of the greatest comedies of the 2000s (or ever, for that matter), Hot Fuzz is a masterpiece loaded with layers of finely-tuned gags, brilliant setups and payoffs, and quite a few impressive cameos. There's Peter Jackson as a psycho Father Christmas, Cate Blanchett as Simon Pegg's CSI ex, and a hilarious trio of police officers played by Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, and Bill Nighy. As for Merchant, the comedian makes an appearance as the unfortunately named Peter Ian Staker...or P.I. Staker, for short.

Staker shows up during a particularly stressful moment in Nicholas Angel's (Pegg) life. The super sergeant has recently been relocated from London to a quiet village in the middle of nowhere, and he's not exactly fitting in. He isn't thrilled with the daily duties of a country cop, and his new co-workers are constantly giving him a hard time. So when P.I. Staker calls the station to report an escaped swan, Angel is sure he's being pranked, especially since if you sound out the name of Merchant's character, it kind of sounds like a British euphemism for making fun of someone.

Only one jump cut later, it turns out P.I. Staker is a very real (and very tall) farmer who really is concerned about the missing fowl. When asked to describe the bird in question, the incredulous Staker replies, "Well...it's a swan." It's a pretty hysterical scene, but of course, being this is an Edgar Wright movie, Merchant's cameo is also a fantastic setup for a climactic deus ex avem where the plans of a maniacal murderer are completely fowled up.

Portal 2 (2011)

You might not recall Merchant's face from Portal 2, but there's a good chance you'll recognize his voice. The British actor played the character of Wheatley, the incompetent AI that banished GLaDOS into a potato before going crazy with his newfound power. But even though Merchant never physically appeared onscreen, he described the process of playing the backstabbing robot as "really exhausting."

Talking to MTV News, Merchant explained that his Portal experience was so tiring because "I'm in this little recording booth, shouting down these imaginary corridors, imaginary gantries, pretending to fall off things and really trying to move around and live it as best I could."

Interestingly, Merchant said his character as Darren Lamb on Extras helped him score the robo-role. It also added a couple of trophies to his collection, as the actor won a Spike Video Game Award and Interactive Achievement Award. Hopefully that made up for all the video game method acting.

Hello Ladies (2013-2014)

After years of TV work with Ricky Gervais, Merchant finally struck out on his own with HBO's Hello Ladies. The short-lived series followed the character of Stuart Prichard (Merchant), an Englishman who's moved to Los Angeles in the hopes of becoming a big-time ladies man.

Of course, Stuart isn't anywhere as debonair as he thinks. Instead, he's the kind of socially awkward jerk who lies about a handicapped friend being a war vet so he can worm his way inside a swanky club. "He's a loser in England who is a loser here too," Merchant told The Telegraph, "but here in L.A., he is even more out of his depth."

Along with writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, Merchant filled the show with moments from his actual love life, using his "most pitiful dating stories" to create some truly awkward scenes (like that shocking wedding sequence). Unfortunately for Merchant, his show only lasted one season before HBO pulled the plug, although he was able to polish off the story with a movie, Serenity-style.

Drunk History (2013-2015)

Created by Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner in 2007, Drunk History went from being an internet sensation to an actual show on Comedy Central. If you've never heard of this Emmy-winning program, well, the premise is pretty simple: somebody gets really drunk and then tries their best to talk about history. As the inebriated storyteller does his or her best to explain the Underground Railroad or the election of 1800, famous actors like Will Ferrell, Alia Shawkat, and Jack Black act out the stories onscreen, lip syncing along with the intoxicated narrator.

Merchant has appeared on the show three times, always playing an American president. The man has donned a top hat twice to play Abraham Lincoln, and he's even sported an 18th century wig for the part of George Washington (although he kept the iconic Merchant glasses). As Carli Velocci of Geek.com points out, Merchant is pretty much the perfect actor for a show like Drunk History as he "knows how to use his giant eyes and his body to elicit a reaction from his audience. Just the way he moves is hilarious, and he knows it."

And naturally, it only makes sense that Merchant has played two of America's taller presidents. But even though Washington stood 6'2" and Lincoln measured in at 6'4", the Englishman still has them beat by several inches.

Lip Sync Battle (2015)

Do you enjoy watching celebrities mouth the words to your favorite pop songs? Then you should probably send a message of thanks to Stephen Merchant, as he helped create the show Lip Sync Battle. It all got started in 2013, when Merchant was driving with John Krasinski and Emily Blunt. The three were discussing what Krasinski should do for his upcoming appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and they eventually decided on a lip syncing contest. The trio even tested out the wacky idea while driving, and fortunately for Krasinski, the game was a hit.

Fallon would reuse the skit multiple times on both Late Night and The Tonight Show, with Merchant once coming aboard to face off against Fallon and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Soon, the concept made its way over to Spike, where it became Lip Sync Battle. Merchant, Fallon, and Krasinski all serve as producers, and the lanky Englishman even once showed up to challenge actress Malin Åkerman for lip sync supremacy. After giving his own unique rendition of Enrique Iglesias's "Hero," Merchant donned a crop top and pair of chaps to destroy Åkerman with his take on Christina Aguilera's "Dirrty."

The Big Bang Theory (2015)

In addition to his frequent collaborations with Ricky Gervais, there's another common theme throughout Stephen Merchant's work. He often plays guys who are simply undateable. There's Darren Lamb in Extras, Stuart Prichard in Hello Ladies, and Dave Gibbs in The Big Bang Theory. A cuckolded math teacher, Dave shows up in season nine of the popular CBS sitcom, going out with Amy Fowler (Mayim Bialik) during her breakup with Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons).

Of course, Dave is 100 percent the wrong guy for poor Amy as he turns out to be a Sheldon superfan. Dave would rather spend their evenings out asking fanboy questions about his favorite theoretical physicist than actually having a real conversation with his date. Of course, all's well that ends well, and while Dave doesn't get the girl, he does help Sheldon and Amy get back together, encouraging the socially awkward scientist to patch things up with the cry of, "Kiss her, you brilliant fool!"

A few more highlights

Still not sure where you've seen Caliban before? Never watched The Office or Extras but still feel you've spotted Merchant on TV somewhere? Well, if you're a Modern Family fan, perhaps you saw him in season five, where the comedian appears in the episode titled "Las Vegas." Playing Leslie Higgins, a butler who specializes in preparing "outrageously decadent baths," Merchant earned quite a few compliments from TV critics, with many saying he was the best part of the entire episode.

Merchant also showed up alongside Dwayne Johnson in Tooth Fairy, playing the Rock's otherworldly case worker. Or if you're into gross-out comedies, then maybe you recognize him from Movie 43. The bespectacled actor shows up in the segment called "Truth or Dare," which involves a rather obscene dinner date with Halle Berry that quickly escalates into a critically-derided disaster.

Honestly, chances are good that Merchant would rather you forget all about that particular film, as it's been widely hailed as one of the worst movies ever made. However, that doesn't mean he had rotten time on set. As he told The Guardian, "I had to spend two days looking at Halle Berry. It was a living hell."