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Why Norm From Winning Time Looks So Familiar

The recent HBO series "Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty," which was created by Max Borenstein and Jim Hecht, puts the spotlight on the popular LA-based basketball team. Based on the book "Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s" by Jeff Pearlman, the series focuses on the "Showtime" era of the Lakers, which began in 1979 and ran through 1991. One major character on the series is Norm Nixon, who played for the Lakers from 1977 to 1983 and was nicknamed "Stormin' Norman." Within the show, one of Norm's prominent storylines deals with his rivalry with Magic Johnson (Quincy Isaiah), seeing as the two play the same position. In one scene, Norm and Magic go head-to-head in a tense one-on-one game. While Nixon has confirmed that the rivalry is made up — and the one-on-one never happened — it still makes for dramatic television (via CLNS).

For those enraptured in "Winning Time," you may be wondering about the actor who plays Norm Nixon — and why he looks familiar. Well, first and foremost, if you're a Norm Nixon fan, the actor who plays Norm, DeVaughn Nixon, may look familiar because he just so happens to be very closely tied to his character — DeVaughn Nixon is, in fact, the son of famous Laker player Norm Nixon.

But if you're still wondering what else (the younger) Nixon has been in, here's a breakdown of his notable roles.

Nixon started with small roles in major films

Nixon began work as a child actor in 1990 and in 1991 landed a role in James Cameron's "Terminator 2: Judgment Day." The film sees the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) being sent back in time to kill John Connor (Edward Furlong), who will become a resistance leader. Nixon plays Dyson, the son of Cyberdyne Systems Corporation director Miles Bennett Dyson (Joe Morton).

The following year, Nixon appeared in "The Bodyguard," a romantic thriller starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. Nixon plays Fletcher, the son of Houston's character Rachel. In one intense scene, Frank (Costner) rescues Fletcher from a motorboat just before it explodes.

In a 2022 interview, Nixon reflected on these early roles in "Terminator" and "The Bodyguard." The actor told IndieWire that what he remembers most from "The Bodyguard" is filming that boat scene and recalls that the water was warmed up for shooting. Speaking of "Terminator," Nixon said, "I remember the scene where I roll up with the remote-controlled car into Joe Morton's foot — I remember seeing the brilliance behind James Cameron because it's a scene where Arnold cuts his arm open and shows the machine."

Nixon's first prominent role was on Disney Channel

Following "Terminator" and "The Bodyguard," Nixon began racking up a string of guest appearances on popular shows, such as "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" in 1993 and "Drake and Josh" in 2004. But in 2009, Nixon landed a first major role with a multi-episode arc in the Disney Channel series "Sonny with a Chance" starring Demi Lovato. The series chronicles the experience of Sonny (Lavato) as she becomes the newest cast member on a sketch comedy show called "So Random!" 

Now, the cast of "So Random!" often interacts with the cast of "Mackenzie Falls," a soapy teen drama that rivals "So Random!" and Nixon has somewhat of a meta role within the series: His character, Trevor, is actually a character within the show-within-a-show, "Mackenzie Falls." In "Mackenzie Falls," Trevor is the best friend of the titular character, Mackenzie, who is played by the fictional actor of Chad Dylan Cooper (who is played by real actor Sterling Knight in "Sonny with a Chance"). For those curious about seeing Nixon as Trevor comically overacting alongside other actors pretending to be actors on a soap, it's worth checking out.

Nixon also starred in Disney film Prom

Keeping on the Disney track, Nixon starred in the 2011 Disney teen romantic comedy film, titled "Prom." Directed by Joe Nussbaum and written by Katie Wech, "Prom" is very much an ensemble film and follows a group of various teenagers as they prepare to attend their prom. Nixon plays Tyler, the boyfriend of Jordan (Kylie Bunbury). Jordan suspects that Tyler is cheating on her after she finds an earring in his car, but Tyler denies it. However, after Tyler begins pursuing another classmate Simone (Danielle Campbell), Jordan breaks up with Tyler. After Simone learns of Tyler's behavior, she ends up dumping him too, leaving Tyler alone at prom. As Nixon told Clevver TV in an interview, "Every good story, you have to have a villain."

Additionally, the year the film came out, Nixon spoke with Media Mikes about his interpretation of his character, Tyler. Nixon said, "I play the character of Tyler who is one of the most popular guys in school and has the answers to everything. On the outside Tyler looks as though he has everything together but as the story [unfolds] you start to see Tyler has some insecurities. Tyler is the type of character that sometimes you will love him and sometimes you hate him."

Nixon transitioned to teen drama with Secret Life of the American Teenager

The same year that "Prom" came out, Nixon transitioned away from Disney roles, beginning with his recurring arc on the teen drama, "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," in which he played a supporting but vital role in the final two seasons.

The series focuses on 15-year-old Amy (Shailene Woodley), who becomes pregnant after a one night stand with Ricky (Daren Kagasoff). Another major character is Adrian (Francia Raisa), who had feelings for Ricky on and off throughout the series. Nixon plays Omar, a love interest of Adrian, who she meets through Dante, Omar's brother who she dates first. When Dante unexpectedly — and without explanation — leaves town, Adrian and Omar become close and soon fall in love. After a brief breakup because Adrian kisses Ricky (to see if she still has feelings for him), Adrian and Omar get back together at the end of the series.

In an interview with MTV News, series creator Brenda Hampton discussed what would have happened with Adrian and Omar beyond the series ending. Hampton said, "Adrian and Omar are very happily married and perhaps the most successful financially out of the group. He continues to revolutionize education, and she is finishing law school, and they have two of the cutest kids ever!"

Nixon had a part in Marvel's Runaways

From 2017 to 2019, Nixon had a recurring role on the Hulu Marvel series "Runaways," which was developed by "Gossip Girl" creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage. The series follows the six teens who make up the superhero group, the Runaways. The team works to take down their criminal parents, who run a supervillain organization called PRIDE.

Nixon plays Darius Davis, who holds a grudge against one of the PrIDE members, Geoffrey (Ryan Sands). When Darius is introduced in the series, he has kidnapped Geoffrey's daughter, Alex (Rhenzy Feliz), for ransom. Later, Darius becomes an ally to the Runaways. After a nine-episode arc, Darius is tragically killed in an assassination by Geoffrey's wife Catherine (Angel Parker), another member of the Pride, who frames Darius for the murder of Destiny Gonzalez (Nicole Wolf). In actuality, Destiny was sacrificed by PRIDE.

It's a semi-short arc, but a memorable one within Nixon's filmography.

Nixon played Kane in Snowfall

This year, prior to "Winning Time" coming out, Nixon had a recurring role in Season 5 of the crime drama series, "Snowfall." The FX series, which premiered in 2017, is set in 1983 Los Angeles and chronicles the surge in cocaine use and how it affected the city and its residents. The narrative follows several different characters dealing with the epidemic, such as the members of The Family, a group of cocaine producers. Nixon plays Kane Hamilton, an antagonist and the other brother of the late Kevin (who was killed in the second season). When Kane comes into the mix, he has just been released from prison. He begins plotting revenge on Franklin (Damson Idris), the young drug kingpin who shot Kevin and is responsible for his death. His revenge plot will likely continue into the show's sixth and final season.

In an interview with Black Tree TV for "Winning Time," Nixon brought up "Snowfall" and described what he looks for in a role. Nixon said, "As I've gotten older and roles like 'Snowfall' have come out, I like playing characters that are completely anomalous to my personality. I want to step outside of myself and do something different ... I always want to change and conform and I think that's what keeps the best actors and the greatest actors alive."