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Why Jeff Lowe From Joe Vs. Carole Looks So Familiar

The Netflix true crime miniseries "Tiger King" gained a lot of buzz upon its release in 2020, with many people invested in the story of Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin. Those who felt the story was incomplete are probably excited to learn of a new miniseries focused on the duo and the people surrounding them. The series, titled "Joe vs. Carole," is created by Etan Frankel, and executive produced by "Saturday Night Live" and "Ghostbusters" star Kate McKinnon. McKinnon also takes on the role of Baskin in the series, with John Cameron Mitchell playing Exotic.

Viewers have likely seen many of the other cast members on screen before and are able to compare them to their real-life counterparts. This has led to questions about a number of the performers behind major characters on the show — such as who's playing Jeff Lowe, the man who takes over the zoo owned by Exotic. The actor's name is Dean Winters, and here's why he looks so familiar. 

Dean Winters first became known for his work in Oz

Dean Winters' first major role came on cable, in the HBO prison drama "Oz." In the show, Winters plays Ryan O'Reily, an Irish prison inmate at the Oswald State Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison that the show is focused on. Winters' first appearance in the series comes in the show's series premiere, titled "The Routine." O'Reily is a gang leader before he gets arrested, serving time for killing two people while drinking and driving.

Over the course of the show's run, O'Reily executes a power play to weaken the existing gangs and take over the drug trade in the prison. Others find out, and after spending a month in solitary confinement, O'Reily begins working with Nino Schibetta (Tony Musante) — who runs the Italian gang in the prison — and ultimately kills him. O'Reily's brother Cyril, played by Winters' real-life brother Scott William Winters, is later arrested and sent to Oz for killing the husband of Dr. Gloria Nathan (Lauren Velez), who's treating O'Reily for breast cancer. 

O'Reily saves his brother and takes the blame for the murder, adding more time to his sentence. Unfortunately, O'Reily's efforts are for naught, as he sees his brother put on death row and executed despite his best efforts to help him. He soon begins a relationship with Dr. Nathan, while also reconnecting with his father, Seamus (Kevin Conway). Winters appeared in all 56 episodes of the show's run, from 1997 to 2003.

Winters moved to network TV with Law and Order: SVU

Dean Winters' first major network TV role came in the Dick Wolf procedural "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," which is a spinoff of the original "Law & Order." Winters first appeared in the series premiere of the show in 1999 as Detective Brian Cassidy. As the youngest member of the precinct, Detective Cassidy is paired with veteran Detective John Munch (Richard Belzer). His earnestness about the job comes through, occasionally raising eyebrows.

Winters, however, was also a regular in the HBO series "Oz" at the same time as his initial run in "Law & Order: SVU," and while the shooting schedule for "Oz" gave him enough time to do both shows, per Winters, contract disputes prevented him from remaining with the series, making Episode 13 of Season 1 his last appearance on the show — or not. 

This thankfully didn't turn out to be the end of Winters' time in "Law & Order: SVU," as, upon learning that he'd never been called back even after the end of "Oz," the cast of "Law & Order: SVU" rallied to get him back on the show (via The A.V. Club). Winters returned in Season 13, in 2012, with the show establishing that Cassidy has been undercover.

Cassidy and Detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) also have a one-night stand during the show's first season, and they end up re-kindling their potential relationship when Cassidy returns. Winters ultimately left the show again in Season 15 before returning in Season 19, this time as a district attorney investigator. To date, Winters has appeared in a total of 31 episodes across two decades of the show.

Winters gained new fans with his work in 30 Rock

Dean Winters found his next major role on NBC as well, this time going from a procedural to a comedy in the sitcom "30 Rock" in 2006, which was created by "Saturday Night Live" alum and "Mean Girls" writer Tina Fey. In the show, Winters plays Dennis Duffy, with whom Liz Lemon (Fey) has an on-again, off-again relationship. Duffy first appears in Episode 6 of Season 1, titled "Jack Meets Dennis," when Lemon gets together with him again and Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) meets him for the first time. Lemon and Duffy date throughout the first season, with Lemon ultimately deciding to break up with him for good.

This, however, isn't the end of Duffy's time on the show, as he returns in Season 2 as the "Subway Hero." Jumping on the tracks to save another passenger earns him this nickname, and when Lemon books him for the show, Duffy sees this as an opportunity to try to win her back. Duffy keeps reappearing over the course of the show's run, with his final appearance being in Episode 7 of the show's seventh and final season, titled "Mazel Tov, Dummies!" Lemon and her new boyfriend Criss (James Marsden) find out that Duffy is now married and has adopted a child. Learning from him that married couples have an easier time adopting, Lemon and Criss ultimately get married as well. 

Winters remained in comedy with Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Dean Winters combined two of his famous roles in a police procedural and a comedy by next appearing in the police sitcom "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." In the show, Winters plays Keith Pembroke, better known to the characters and the viewers as "The Vulture," due to his propensity to swoop in at the last minute on cases, appearing front and center when they're wrapped and taking the credit for them. Winters' first appearance comes in Season 1, Episode 5, titled "The Vulture," when he clashes with Detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) after taking over Peralta's case. While Peralta ultimately lets Pembroke take the credit, in another episode later in the season, Peralta races against the clock with the help of his friends at the precinct to get a signed confession before Pembroke can steal another case from him.

The Vulture continues to be a thorn in the side of the precinct members, ending up as the captain of the precinct in the show's third season after the temporary demotion of Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher), the precinct's long-standing captain. Admitting that he has a vendetta against the members of the 99th precinct, Pembroke makes things difficult for a number of people, including forbidding Peralta and fellow detective Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) from pursuing a romantic relationship, and demoting Peralta. He leaves only when Holt's demotion is over and he is able to return to his position as captain.

Winters faced down Keanu Reeves in John Wick

Dean Winters' next prominent role came in the film world, in the 2014 action film "John Wick," in which he stars alongside Keanu Reeves. In the film, Winters plays Avi, the second in command to Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist). Viggo's son Iosef (Alfie Allen) sets the film in motion by attacking John Wick (Reeves), killing his dog and taking his car. Avi witnesses Viggo beat up Iosef for his actions, unaware of what Iosef has done, and then sees Wick reject Viggo's attempt at amends. He then, under Viggo's orders, sends assassins to Wick's house, all of whom fail to kill him.

Avi is later contacted by Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki), who offers to kill Wick and collect the bounty despite spotting him at The Continental, where killing is forbidden. Avi survives a close encounter with Wick at a church where the Tarasov money is hidden, but he encounters Wick again at a helipad where they meant to escape. Asking repeatedly for a gun, Avi finally gets one, but he ends up getting shot by Wick while trying to run to the helicopter, ultimately dying after getting run over by Wick's car.

In another car-related role, Winters started playing the character Mayhem in the Allstate car insurance commercials in 2010, and the role has arguably helped the actor get to where he is today. Winters is still playing Mayhem to this day, with one of his most recent commercials focusing on a driver crashing while reaching for food. Winters has already had a fantastic career playing intriguing and unique roles, which looks to be continuing with "Joe vs. Carole."