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Why Coach Cotton From The Blind Side Looks So Familiar

As the 2010s have brought about the consolidation of the franchise blockbuster model as the purveyor of unprecedented profit margins for Hollywood, new debates have been ignited about what place, if any, is left for adult dramas in the cinematic marketplace. But it wasn't that long ago that an adult drama with no action sequences, no superheroes, and no brand recognition could become a massive enough hit to stop America cold. Just look at "The Blind Side."

The 2009 John Lee Hancock-directed biopic about American football player Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) and his adoptive mother Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) was such a box office smash, grossing over $255 million domestically (via Box Office Mojo), that it managed to overcome decidedly middling critical reception (via Metacritic) and climb all the way to a Best Picture Oscar nomination and a Best Actress win for Sandra Bullock. Despite its mixed reviews, the film has nonetheless become a mainstay of family movie afternoons across the country. And if you've seen it recently, you might have asked yourself where you know the actor who plays Coach Cotton from. Here are a few of the possible answers.

Ray McKinnon broke through with the Oscar-winning short film The Accountant

Georgia-born actor Ray McKinnon made small appearances in a lot of films and television series throughout the 1990s, from "Bugsy" to "A Perfect World" to "Apollo 13" to episodes of "Designing Women" and "In the Heat of the Night." But it wasn't until he embarked on a career as a director that he really made it big.

After founding the production company Ginny Mule Pictures alongside his since-deceased wife Lisa Blount and actor Walton Goggins (via Memphis Commercial Appeal), McKinnon wrote, directed, and starred in the short film "The Accountant," about an eccentric accountant making an effort to save a family farm by unorthodox means. The project became one of the most popular short films of the 2000s and netted him and Blount the Academy Award for best short film in the live-action category (via IMDb). It was but the first of McKinnon's efforts as a filmmaker, which have most notably included creating, running, and directing several episodes of the cult SundanceTV series "Rectify."

He played Reverend Henry Smith on Deadwood

The status of "Deadwood" as a modern TV classic is undisputed. The unique, beloved HBO historical drama became notable for many things, one of which was its stringent authenticity when it came to recreating the titular settlement of Deadwood, South Dakota, from sets to costumes to dialect to casting. At its best, no other show was able to fill the screen with as many memorable supporting players as "Deadwood," all the better to capture a sense of living and breathing history in its depiction of real-life Deadwood figures.

One of those figures was Reverend Henry Weston Smith, the kind-hearted Christian minister and former Civil War field nurse who, on "Deadwood," is given the crucial yet taxing task of eulogizing the many people who die in the early days of the settlement. Reverend Smith was played by Ray McKinnon in what then became the most prominent screen role of his career up to that point. Although he was only on the show for one season, his portrayal still left a huge mark on "Deadwood" fans.

He gave his most acclaimed film performance in That Evening Sun

Following his "Deadwood" tenure, Ray McKinnon moved away from TV for a while and focused on film roles for several years. During that time, he also built on his Oscar success by directing two feature films: 2004's "Chrystal," and 2007's "Randy and the Mob," both of which also acted in.

In 2009, the same year "The Blind Side" came out, McKinnon was also seen in another, very different Tennessee-set cinematic tale. "That Evening Sun," an indie drama written and directed by Scott Teems, starred Hal Holbrook as Abner Meecham, an elderly man who flees a nursing home and discovers that his old farm has been leased by his children, and featured McKinnon in a prominent supporting role as Lonzo Choat, the farm's new tenant. It was among the most acclaimed film performances of McKinnon's career, with Variety's Joe Leydon noting that "It says a great deal about McKinnon's acting that even when Lonzo behaves most despicably, he retains a few shards of the audience's sympathy because, as Abner bluntly notes, he's obviously in way over his head." He even received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for best supporting male (via IMDb).

He plays Lincoln Potter in the Sons of Anarchy franchise

Few cable dramas in the past couple of decades have been as successful as "Sons of Anarchy," the FX motorcycle club drama that ran for a total of seven high-rated seasons and 92 episodes. The Kurt Sutter-created series went down as enough of a hit, in fact, to prompt a spinoff series centered around the Latino motorcycle club Mayans M.C. — aptly titled, of course, "Mayans M.C."

In addition to the outlaw bikers themselves, both series have devoted a lot of time to the lawmen who circle them and often act as antagonists. Perhaps the most celebrated example is U.S. Attorney Lincoln "Linc" Potter, played by Ray McKinnon. His introduction on Season 4 of "Sons of Anarchy" was hailed as a breath of fresh air for the show, with Aol TV's Maureen Ryan comparing him to "Breaking Bad" antagonist Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Potter was brought back for "Mayans M.C.," and McKinnon has already guest-starred on a total of 12 episodes for the ongoing spin-off show.

He appeared in Ford v Ferrari as Phil Remington

Much like "The Blind Side," 2019's "Ford v Ferrari" was a sports drama that managed to reach a wide crossover audience and become a veritable box office hit — and it's all the more impressive that it managed to do it in a climate overcrowded by blockbuster tentpoles. Of course, this particular sports drama had the benefit of sensational, blood-pumping racing sequences, which justly won it the Academy Award for Best Film Editing (via IMDb).

Much of the entertainment value of the James Mangold-directed film, which tells the story of the rivalry between the two titular racing teams at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race, is derived from the excitement of watching the Ford team, led by designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale), deal rapidly and expertly with the crises that come their way. To that end, the participation of team engineer Phil Remington, played by Ray McKinnon in another memorable film role, proves particularly crucial to the rhythm of "Ford v Ferrari," as he works out such efficient solutions as hammering a loose door back into place with a mallet.