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Why Virgil From American Rust Looks So Familiar

The new Showtime series "American Rust" quickly enticed viewers with its dramatic murder-mystery premise. Set in a fictional Pennsylvania town named Buell, the show follows grizzled war veteran and police detective Del Harris (Jeff Daniels) as he attempts to solve a murder committed by someone in the community. The Showtime series concluded its first season in November 2021 and left viewers with a mix of answers and plenty of new questions that will hopefully be answered in a second season, but some watchers may still be scratching their heads about one thing in particular: why one of the show's key cast members looks so familiar.

The character of Virgil Poe, father of the show's initial prime murder suspect Billy (Alex Neustaedter), is played by actor Mark Pellegrino. It comes as no surprise that viewers of the series would think he looks familiar, as Pellegrino has made appearances on an entire laundry list of television shows, ranging from "Lost" to "Dexter." Though Pellegrino has numerous acting credits to his name across a spread of years, some of his larger roles significantly bolstered his recognizability to a general audience, despite not quite being a household name. Here's where you may know him from.

Mark Pellegrino played Lucifer on Supernatural

Many may recognize Pellegrino chiefly from his role as the primary antagonist on the fantasy-drama phenomenon "Supernatural." The show, which ran for a whopping 15 seasons, focused on monster-hunting brothers Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) and as they fought against every manner of paranormal and unexplained phenomena. For much of the show's run, Pellegrino assumed the role of Lucifer, the being of ultimate evil that the protagonists often came to blows with.

Though Lucifer was played by a variety of actors over the course of the series courtesy of his powers of possession, his default human-like form was consistently played by Pellegrino. The actor began his stint in the show's fifth season, which was originally envisioned to be its final outing with Lucifer as the final "big bad." When the show continued on, Pellegrino returned to the role for Season 7 and then went on to appear as the character across the show's final seasons.

He played Deputy Bill Standall on 13 Reasons Why

Strangely enough, "American Rust" was not the first time Pellegrino played the father of a murder suspect. In a more grounded role than "Supernatural," the actor also appeared in the Netflix drama series "13 Reasons Why." The show, which originally focused on high school student Clay (Dylan Minnette) uncovering the reasons behind why his classmate Hannah (Katherine Langford) took her own life, dealt with a lot of very sensitive topics across its four seasons such as suicide, murder, abuse, and sexual assault.

Pellegrino portrayed the well-meaning Deputy Bill Standall, the primary face of law enforcement for the show's entire duration and the father of main character Alex (Miles Heizer). A recurring character for the first three seasons and a main character for the final season, Standall's investigations helped shed light on various mysteries until he found himself worryingly connected to one of the show's final plotlines: the murder of series antagonist Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice).

He also portrayed Dr. Jedikiah Price on The Tomorrow People

"Supernatural" isn't the only time Pellegrino played the main antagonist of a TV series. He also played the big bad in CW's "The Tomorrow People," one of the more tolerable American remakes of British TV shows from the last decade. The show, which only ran for one season, focused on a group of metahumans known as Tomorrow People who have evolved to possess psychic abilities. The series saw them battling against Ultra, an anti-Tomorrow People organization that aimed to wipe them out.

Across the single-season, Pellegrino played the part of Dr. Jedikiah Price, the leader of Ultra and an evolutionary biologist who opposed the very existence of Tomorrow People. Despite his ostensible bigotry, Pellegrino's Price was a complex, multifaceted character who turned out to be much more intimately involved with the lives of several of the Tomorrow People than a viewer might initially expect. In his warped sense of right and wrong, he truly believed he was trying to help the world. Unfortunately, it seems the lingering plot threads concerning this particular character may never be resolved due to the show's cancellation.

Pellegrino joined the Lost cast as Jacob

Pellegrino was also a major part of "Lost" and its glorious, convoluted mythos. Following a group of survivors stranded on a mysterious island after a plane crash, "Lost" was nothing short of event television for mass audiences during its heyday. Even casual viewers remember the enigmatic Smoke Monster that terrorized the inhabitants of the island throughout much of the show's duration and gave birth to a multitude of fan theories continuing to this day. As it turns out, Pellegrino's character is responsible for creating this iconic central antagonist of "Lost."

In the show's fifth and sixth seasons, Pellegrino portrayed Jacob, the immortal protector of the island and the brother of the Man in Black/Smoke Monster (Titus Welliver). With the pair's backstory eventually revealing that they had lived on the island for thousands of years, one of the greatest mysteries of "Lost" was finally revealed to its fans. Serving as a foil to the Man in Black's ideals about humanity, Jacob cast the Man in Black into the powerful heart of the island after the latter killed their adoptive mother (Allison Janney). As a result, the Man in Black transformed into the Smoke Monster that audiences know and love. The plane crash survivors would eventually come to be involved in Jacob's enduring conflict with the Man in Black as their battle came to a head in the show's final season.

He appeared as Paul Bennett in Dexter

Another major show that Pellegrino had involvement in was Showtime's bloody drama "Dexter," which followed serial killer Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) as he enacted vigilante justice on despicable criminals. Across its eight seasons, "Dexter" had no shortage of characters who were flat-out terrible people or had committed nefarious acts. Pellegrino's character on the show also fit into this category, though his unique relationship with several key characters made him an integral part of the show's first season.

On "Dexter," Pellegrino played Paul Bennett, the estranged ex-husband of Dexter's first love interest Rita (Julie Benz). Bennett was a drug addict and serial abuser who quickly came to blows with Dexter after the latter started dating Rita. Though one might have initially expected Bennett to meet his end at the hands of Dexter, as many like him did during the series, Dexter was only indirectly responsible for Bennett's demise. After Bennett attempted to assault Rita, Dexter knocked him out and sent him back to prison, where he was later killed off-screen by another prisoner.

He portrayed a villainous vampire in Being Human

Pellegrino had another turn as a supernatural villain in the American remake of the British TV show "Being Human." Like its English counterpart, the American version of the series centered upon a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost all living together as roommates. Pellegrino was part of the recurring cast for all four seasons of "Being Human," though his most integral appearance was as the primary antagonist of the show's premiere season.

In the series, Pellegrino joined the ranks of TV vampires as the character James Bishop. Though Bishop maintained a public-facing persona as a part of the Boston Police Department, his real goal was to create more vampires in Boston so they could reveal themselves to the world and assert their dominance. Bishop was also responsible for turning Aidan (Sam Witwer), one of the central three characters, into a vampire several hundred years before the start of the series. Though Aidan would successfully stop Bishop's plan and put an end to him, Pellegrino continued in the role as a visual manifestation of Aidan's inner psyche.

Pellegrino joined the FBI in Quantico

Pellegrino also played a major role in the first season of the drama-thriller series "Quantico," which followed FBI agent Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) after she becomes suspected of being responsible for a terrorist attack on Grand Central Terminal. Despite initially being a breakout success for ABC, the series was canceled after three seasons. Though there were indeed plans for a potential fourth season, "Quantico" still managed to tell a fairly complete story over the course of its run.

In the show's first season, Pellegrino played FBI Executive Assistant Director Clayton Haas. For the eleven episodes of the series, Haas was tasked with determining the culprit of the aforementioned attack. He eventually settled on Parrish as his prime suspect and pursued her once she became a fugitive. Unfortunately, Haas would meet his demise halfway through the season as one of the casualties of a bombing attack on the FBI Command Center, but not before saving his son Caleb (Graham Rogers) from the wreckage.

Pellegrino has popped up everywhere from Criminal Minds to CSI

As if all of the aforementioned roles in major TV shows weren't enough, Pellegrino has also made numerous sporadic guest appearances on a variety of other popular series, particularly procedural dramas. He appeared on the long-running "Grey's Anatomy" in the premiere episode of Season 4, two episodes of Season 4 of "Prison Break," one episode of Season 4 of "Criminal Minds, two episodes of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" in the show's sixth and ninth seasons, one episode of Season 2 of "Grimm," and one episode of Season 2 of "Chicago P.D.," among numerous other guest credits. 

Furthermore, Pellegrino has had roles in several films, such as portraying Agent Johnson in the 2004 cult classic "National Treasure" and playing Joe in the 2001 David Lynch film "Mulholland Drive." In essence, it's a relatively bet to say that if you have watched television before, you have probably seen a show or movie that Mark Pellegrino has played a part in.