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Where You've Seen The Love Hard Cast Before

Whether it's the holiday season or you're just in the holiday mood, you can never go wrong with a Christmas film. That's especially true when we're talking about Christmas romantic comedies. And streaming giant Netflix has a strong record of charming winter rom-coms with films like "A Christmas Prince" and "The Christmas Chronicles." And, of course, there's "Love Hard," the delightful story of a young professional woman who's literally made a career out of bad relationships. But now, she's deciding to risk it all on a man she's never officially met, only to find out he's not exactly who she thought he was.

This charming little flick sports a pretty impressive cast. From its stars to the supporting characters, there isn't a weak one in the bunch. Some of them have been acting for decades, while others are relative newcomers, and as you watch them all interact, you may find yourself wondering where you've seen them before. Well, get in the holiday spirit as we take a look at the cast of "Love Hard" and why their faces seem so familiar.

Nina Dobrev

In "Love Hard," Nina Dobrev stars as the film's protagonist, Natalie Bauer. She's a writer who specializes in recounting her own disastrous online dates. While her inability to find a partner who's perfect means she'll never run out of crazy stories to write about, it also means she may never experience a fulfilling relationship. Then she meets the man of her dreams, and it seems like her dating problems are solved. Unfortunately, she decides to surprise him at his home in Lake Placid, New York ... only to discover she's been catfished.

As you watch Natalie negotiate this tricky situation, you might realize, "Hey, I think I've seen this actress somewhere before." And you probably have! Prior to taking on the role of Natalie, Dobrev played a teen mom/model Mia Elizabeth Jones on Canada's flagship teen drama "Degrassi: The Next Generation." In 2009, Dubrev graduated from "Degrassi" to star in "The Vampire Diaries" as Elena Gilbert, the teenage girl who falls in love with an undead hunk after her parents die in a car accident. Plus, fans of horror-comedies may recognize her as the jealous, insecure mean girl Vicki Summers in the underrated 2015 film "The Final Girls."

Jimmy O. Yang

The man who serves as Natalie's catfisher and unintentional love interest is Josh Lin, played by comedian, writer, and actor Jimmy O. Yang. Josh has spent his life trying to be someone he's not. He works at a store catering to hikers and adventurous types just because it's owned by his dad. Originally, his dating profile consists of horribly awkward photos of him attempting to appear rugged. It makes sense that he would use pictures of Lake Placid's coolest guy — and his former friend — to get a date because he doesn't believe in himself.

Playing a character who essentially deceives someone into loving him must be tough. Yang pulls it off by being funny and vulnerable. So even though we're wired to distrust his character, we still want to like him. Previously, the actor has popped up in the ninth season of the long-running FX comedy series "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," Season 2 of "New Girl," "Fresh off the Boat," and the 2018 blockbuster rom-com "Crazy Rich Asians." He may be best known, however, as app developer Jian-Yang in the HBO comedy "Silicon Valley."

Darren Barnet

Tag is the good-looking, outdoorsy guy Natalie thought she was falling in love with. Upon discovering that he actually lives in the same town as her catfisher, Josh, the two hatch a plan to make Tag her new boyfriend. However, it turns out they have practically nothing in common, forcing Natalie to put on an act with Josh's guidance.

In other words, actor Darren Barnet has to play a guy who's simultaneously charming and subtly conceited. He's not a bad or mean guy — he just doesn't take the time to notice this woman is being a little fake because he's blinded by them apparently having similar interests. As for where you've seen Barnet before, dedicated Marvel fans will likely recognize him from his two episodes as HYDRA member Freddy Malick in Marvel's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." He also appeared as Hot Seth on the 2018 Facebook Watch series "Turnt." More recently, you may have seen him in Mindy Kaling's Netflix series "Never Have I Ever," where he plays Paxton Hall-Yoshida, the love interest of main character Devi.

James Saito

Josh's father is not an overbearing man. In fact, he doesn't say much at all. He loves the outdoors and really gets along with Josh's former friend, Tag, but he's never tried to turn his son into someone more like him. Of course, the man is still a bit of an intimidating presence. He appears to be so comfortable in his roles as father, husband, and businessman that it isn't a massive leap to understand why Josh pretends to be like him.

The actor inhabiting the role is non-other than veteran actor James Saito. He's racked up a ton of credits over his nearly 50-year history as an actor in film and television. Chances are good you've encountered him in one of his many roles on the legendary television series "M*A*S*H." Trekkers may recognize him from the opening episode of "Star Trek: Voyager," where he played Second Lieutenant Nogami. In 2019, he appeared in another Netflix romantic comedy, "Always Be My Maybe," and the Amazon Studios series "Modern Love." Plenty of fans, however, probably remember him best as the original live-action Shredder in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" from 1990.

Rebecca Staab

Another veteran with a long trail of credits behind her is Rebecca Staab. In "Love Hard," she plays Josh's supportive and caring stepmother, Barb. When Natalie arrives in Lake Placid, no one seems happier to see her than Barb, who can't contain her excitement over her son's new "relationship."

Rebecca Staab has been acting since the early '80s. Interestingly, her first credit is for the TV series "Loving," which also featured James Saito, the actor who plays Staab's husband in "Love Hard." Soon after that TV appearance, Staab played Jesse Matthews on the soap opera "Guiding Light." More recently, she's done a few Christmas-themed movies, such as "Christmas by Starlight," "A Christmas Miracle," and "Road to Christmas." Her most interesting role, though, may be the one none of us were supposed to see. She played Sue Storm in the infamous 1994 Roger Corman production of the "Fantastic Four," a movie that was never supposed to see the light of day.

Harry Shum Jr.

One of the many reasons Josh seems to struggle with self-esteem is Owen, his absolutely perfect, attention-seeking older brother played by Harry Shum Jr. Before the character appears on screen, you know pretty much all you need to know just by how he announces his arrival. He thinks he's the best at everything and deserving of the praise he receives from his wife and family.

Shum plays the character as smug yet with an underpinning of insecurity. He thrives on the positive energy in a way that asks the question, "Could he even survive without adulation?" Before taking the role of Owen, Shum honed his craft as an actor and dancer with appearances in "You Got Served," "Stomp the Yard," "Step Up 2: The Streets," "Glee" (where he played Mike Chang), "Shadowhunters," and "Tell Me A Story." Like his costar Jimmy O. Yang, he also appeared in the film "Crazy Rich Asians."

Althea Kaye

Grandma June is Josh's partially deaf, kind of naive, but refreshingly frank grandmother. She has a habit of saying whatever is on her mind, swearing a little bit, and asking blunt questions she has no idea might be considered a little taboo. Interestingly, she's played by an actress with surprisingly few acting credits to her name, Althea Kaye, who appears to be a late-comer to performing in television and films.

Kaye's first role was as Ms. Witch in a 2013 short film that sounds like a new interpretation of "Hansel and Gretel," one that's called "Henry and Gloria." And when "Kung Fu" was rebooted for the CW earlier in 2021, Kaye was in two episodes as the Tai Chi Lady. Her most recent role, prior to "Love Hard," was the supernatural Freeform series "Motherland: Fort Salem," where she shows up in four episodes and is credited as the Biddy.

Mikaela Hoover

Other than being the wife of Josh's perfect older brother, Owen, Chelsea isn't given a whole lot to do in "Love Hard." In a way, she assists her husband in his attention-stealing antics, but she doesn't do this out of any kind of malice. Her husband is a guy who needs constant approval, and she seems to provide that to him in spades while also having a funny line here and there.

Mikaela Hoover, the actress playing Chelsea, may not do much in the film, but that doesn't mean she hasn't made a name for herself with an impressive list of TV and film roles over the years. For instance, she's collaborated with Marvel and Disney directing superstar James Gunn on several of his projects. These include his comedy series "PG Porn," the wild superhero film "Super," and both "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "The Suicide Squad." You may have also seen her in the 2008 WB series "Sorority Forever," "Happy Endings," and "Two and a Half Men."

Heather McMahan

Every romantic comedy needs a rambunctious best friend who the protagonist either regrets listening to or regrets not listening to. In "Love Hard," Natalie's encouraging and enthusiastic best friend/co-worker is Kerry, and she's played by comedian and actor Heather McMahan. It's Kerry who warns Natalie about the dangers of corresponding with someone online she hasn't met yet. However, she also encourages her to go after Tag, which creates much of the film's conflict.

It may be surprising, given the confidence of her performance, to see that McMahan only has seven credits to her name. Of those credits, you might have seen her in the TV movie "Merry Ex-Mas" from 2016 or Tyler Perry's 2014 series "If Loving You Is Wrong." She also starred alongside actors like Taylor Schilling, Kate McKinnon, and Brian Tyree Henry in the film "Family," and she played in the 2019 comedy "The Trap." Of course, if you love a good laugh, you may be familiar with her work as a stand-up comedian.

Matty Finochio

Lee is Natalie's passive-aggressive, self-obsessed, drama-addicted boss, portrayed by actor Matty Finochio. Of all the performances in the film, no one seems to relish their role more than Finochio. Every scene he's in becomes about him whether it was intended to or not. Despite providing Natalie with little more than toxic advice, the audience can't help but enjoy watching him do his thing.

This may explain Finochio's mammoth body of work. He may not be a star, but you've seen him all over the place. From "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" and "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb "(where he played two different characters) to "Date My Dad," "The Order," and a recurring role as Tweedledee in "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland," it's very likely you've seen him before. He also boasts impressive credits such as "Riverdale," "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," and Syfy's "Day of the Dead" series.

Fletcher Donovan

An actor who really seems to be enjoying his quirky role is Fletcher Donovan, who plays the multi-hyphenate stoner and gig worker Eric, aka E-Rock. He's the first person Natalie meets on her spontaneous trip to Lake Placid, and he sets the tone perfectly for the chaos that she's about to be thrust into. Like Josh, and to a certain extent herself, Eric is more than he appears, and every time he shows up, we learn something new.

As for Donovan himself, most of his credits consist of short films and brief roles on television, but you're sure to recognize him from some of them. After all, he's appeared in some pretty high-profile shows. Starting in 2015, he's played in the critically acclaimed "The Man in the High Castle," fan-favorite behemoth "Supernatural," ABC's friendship drama "A Million Little Things," the original Netflix series "Firefly Lane," and the new Disney+ series "Turner & Hooch."