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Why Chief Grissom From Chicago Fire Looks So Familiar

In a manner similar to plenty of career-based network dramas before it, One Chicago series "Chicago Fire" contrasts the professional lives of its firefighters with some equally dramatic interpersonal relationships. Many of its characters, then, are just as compelling as three-dimensional humans as they are firefighters.

Chicago Fire Department Chief Carl Grissom, however, is predominately relevant to the series as a boss and leader, with seldom insight provided into his personal affairs outside of his work life. For instance, the Season 7 finale "I'm Not Leaving You," which is one of the best episodes of "Chicago Fire," foregrounds a season-long storyline in which Grissom plays politics behind the scenes of the Chicago Fire Department.

Chief Grissom is portrayed by Gary Cole, whose prolific career has included regular appearances on TV and in film since the 80s and continuing into today. If he looks familiar, it's likely from one of the following roles.

Gary Cole starred in The Brady Bunch Movie and its sequels

One of Gary Cole's first film performances, amidst nearly 200 acting credits in total (via IMDb), was as Mike Brady in "The Brady Bunch Movie." Mike Brady, of course, was at the time of the film's release a character well-known to TV audiences from more than 100 episodes of "The Brady Bunch," in which he was portrayed by Robert Reed. However, Reed died in 1992, three years before the 1995 premiere of "The Brady Bunch Movie," necessitating the role's recasting. Furthermore, whereas the original series is typically sincere, the tone of its 90s film adaptation is considerably more tongue-in-cheek than its predecessor.

Cole then went on to reprise his role as the Brady family patriarch in both "A Very Brady Sequel" and the TV movie "The Brady Bunch in the White House." While that was his final, official appearance as Mike Brady, he also voiced a version of the character in a handful of episodes of "Family Guy," adding another level of parody onto what was already a not-entirely-serious performance.

Gary Cole needed those TPS reports ASAP in Office Space

Arguably Gary Cole's most iconic role, given the film's cult following, is that of Bill Lumbergh in "Office Space." Lumbergh is the Vice President of Initech, which is the drab, generic company at the center of the film's story. In one of the movie's most quotable scenes, Lumbergh approaches the desk of protagonist Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) and passive-aggressively encourages him to complete a series of TPS reports. In this and other moments in which he attempts to coerce his employees, he flatly states how "that would be great," with heavy emphasis on the vowels in "great."

While on one hand Bill Lumbergh is a specific employee of a specific company, his mannerisms evoke a type of management all too familiar to plenty of viewers with office work experience, making the role something of a catch-all parody of a certain archetype of boss.

Cole was ESPN 8 The Ocho's Cotton McKnight in Dodgeball

On the heels of his now-iconic performance in "Office Space," Gary Cole appeared in a series of dramatic films, including the Sam Raimi-directed "The Gift" and the Robin Williams-starring "One Our Photo." His next major comedic performance came five years after the release of "Office Space," when he became an announcer for the fictional sports network ESPN 8: The Ocho in sports comedy "Dodgeball." During the film's final act, Cole portrays sportscaster Cotton McKnight, who commentates the climactic dodgeball tournaments alongside Jason Bateman's Pepper Brooks.

Whereas the rockstar-like Pepper is quirky and irreverent, Cotton provides deadpan commentary unsuited to the absurdity taking place around him. Perhaps thanks to memorable performances by Cole and Bateman, in the wake of the film's release, the idea for ESPN 8: The Ocho became a reality when ESPN dedicated a day of network coverage to sports oftentimes outside the purview of mainstream sports media.

Cole has appeared in a number of comedic films since "Dodgeball," including "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," "Blockers," and more.

Gary Cole's TV career peaked when he portrayed Kent Davison in Veep

While some of Gary Cole's most well-known roles are in movies, he's likewise a seasoned TV actor, appearing in various series dating back to the 80s, even before his first feature film. Arguably his most acclaimed role from throughout his TV acting career is that of presidential strategist Kent Davison in HBO's political comedy "Veep." Like many of his past performances in comedic projects, Davison isn't absurd himself so much as he provides a generally anchored point-of-view that contrasts with many of the absurd characters around him. The role of Kent Davison ultimately landed Cole an Emmy nomination in 2014 (via IMDb).

Since then, Cole has appeared steadily in a variety of TV series, including, of course, "Chicago Fire." Cole notably left "Chicago Fire" in 2019 before joining "NCIS" following the departure of prior series lead Mark Harmon. Based on his lack of upcoming projects, "NCIS" appears to remain his priority to this day.