Why Dr. John Sturgis From Young Sheldon Looks So Familiar

After the success of "The Big Bang Theory," a series that landed CBS over 50 Emmy nominations, it was no surprise that the network roped in co-creator Chuck Lorre to spearhead a spin-off series. Titled "Young Sheldon," the spin-off series served as a prequel/origin story for the bright but awkward Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), who eventually goes on to become a world-renowned theoretical physicist.

"Young Sheldon" takes place in the late '80s and early '90s during Sheldon's (Iain Armitage) formative years in school. Years ahead of his peers academically, the character has a hard time fitting in both at school and at home with his traditional family. The character eventually finds a confidante and friend in Dr. John Sturgis, a physics professor at a local university that the young academic attends. The two form a close bond which allows Sheldon to openly speak his mind, discuss his various projects and insecurities. Eventually, Sturgis begins to date Meemaw (Annie Potts), Sheldon's grandmother.

Fans of "The Big Bang Theory" prequel series might be wondering who plays Dr. Sturgis. The character, who sports a familiar face, is played by none other than character actor Wallace Shawn. Well-known for his unique voice and comedic performances, Shawn has been appearing in Hollywood productions since the late '70s. There's a chance you might have seen him in a childhood favorite or a cult classic.

Wallace Shawn had dinner with Andre

One of Wallace Shawn's most notable appearances was also one of his first. Shawn met French multi-hyphenate creator Andre Gregory in the '70s and the two hit it off, with the Frenchman directing several of Shawn's plays. The two eventually teamed up together for the comedy-drama "My Dinner with Andre," which featured Gregory and Shawn as fictionalized versions of themselves having a conversation over dinner. The duo discussed a variety of topics, including existentialism, the meaning of life, and the children's novella "The Little Prince." Co-written by Shawn, the film can be considered autobiographical in nature.

Though the film wasn't widely released, the indie film proved to be a success with critics. "My Dinner with Andre" currently holds a 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. After its release, "My Dinner with Andre" was widely parodied for its inventive nature. "The Simpsons" and "Community" notably paid homage to Shawn and Gregory's strange, but endearing project. The film still continues to generate hot takes and meaningful discussion, with The New York Times recently labeling the film as the original podcast.

The Young Sheldon star teamed up with another Andre for The Princess Bride

Perhaps Wallace Shawn's most memorable role is playing Vizzini in "The Princess Bride." Directed by Rob Reiner, "The Princess Bride" hit cinemas in 1987 and became a cultural phenomenon shortly after. Widely considered one of the best movies ever made, "The Princess Bride" cemented Shawn as one of the funniest character actors of the '80s. In the romantic comedy, the future "Young Sheldon" star appeared as Vizzini, an outlaw who kidnaps Buttercup (Robin Wright) alongside the Spaniard Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) and the giant Fezzik (André the Giant).

In "The Princess Bride," Vizzini's plan ultimately fails and Montoya and Fezzik eventually abandon him for the greater good. Nevertheless, Shawn's performance as the clever Vizzini is one of the most memorable components of the film. Fans might remember the character for repeatedly uttering "inconceivable!" on various occasions, with Patinkin's character calling him out, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Despite Vizzini's popularity for saying his signature line, Shawn revealed in an interview with Showbiz Junkies that he refuses to say it now. "No one knew that 'The Princess Bride' would become such a beloved film. At first, when people would ask me to say it, it was amusing at the time," the star revealed. "At a certain point, though, people thought that's my catchphrase, but that isn't how I really see myself...There's something about a catchphrase after a certain point that is limiting to the individual."

Wallace Shawn played an alien in Star Trek

Before he was Dr. John Sturgis in "Young Sheldon," Wallace Shawn joined the cast of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." The fourth series in the ever-enduring media franchise, "Deep Space Nine" focused on the adventures of the eponymous space station. The series ran for seven seasons, producing over 170 episodes.

Shawn appeared throughout the series as Zek, the leader of the Ferengi Alliance. As the Grand Nagu/leader of the species, Zek found himself navigating the tough intergalactic world of politics with grace, only to suffer from a failing memory in his later years. The character eventually retired from his duties as the leader of the Ferengi. Shawn did not return as Zek in other "Star Trek" projects.

In playing the extraterrestrial Zek, Shawn underwent elaborate makeup sessions to achieve the Ferengi's strange look. Despite not being familiar with the "Star Trek" franchise, Shawn jumped into "Deep Space Nine" with enthusiasm. In an interview with StarTrek.com, the actor discussed how the role of Zek liberated him. "To be in that world and to be in that makeup really liberated me in a way that I never experienced before — or since. I felt completely free, so it was a joyful experience," he said.

He played a clueless teacher in Clueless

After appearing in comedy films like Woody Allen's "Shadow and Fog" and Michael Moore's only non-documentary effort "Canadian Bacon," Wallace Shawn appeared in 1995's "Clueless." A loose modern-day adaptation of Jane Austen's "Emma," the film followed high school student Cher (Alicia Silverstone) as she navigates her posh Beverly Hills lifestyle to find love and meaning in life, and finally get her driver's license.

In "Clueless," the "Young Sheldon” actor appears as Mr. Wendell Hall, a teacher who gives Cher a poor grade. In a bid to up her grades and ease her school life, Cher hatches a plan to make Hall fall in love with Miss Toby Geist (Twink Caplan), another teacher with a penchant to mark with severity. The two eventually fall in love, resulting in a sweet romance — and Cher's grades getting a significant bump.

The teen comedy proved to be a success, launching a spin-off series that aired the following year. Shawn returned as Mr. Hall for the "Clueless" series, which aired for three seasons, ending its run in the summer of 1999.

The actor showed up in Gossip Girl

"Gossip Girl" debuted to mostly positive fanfare when it hit The CW in 2007. Based on the best-selling teen novel series of the same name, the series focused on the mysteries plaguing a group of privileged teens who lived in New York. "Gossip Girl" starred Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Chace Crawford, and Penn Badgley, all of whom went on to become stars in their own right.

Wallace Shawn appeared in the drama series as Cyrus Rose, the stepfather to Blair Waldorf (Meester). The character first appeared in the 2nd season and continued to appear throughout the show's six-season run. Rose notably wed Blair and Chuck (Ed Westwick) off in the show's final season, a turning point in Blair and Cyrus' relationship, which started off contentious. The character recently returned in the "Gossip Girl" reboot, which currently streams on HBO Max. In the revival series, which serves as an indirect sequel to the original, Cyrus is still married to Blair's mother and continues to be a prominent lawyer. It remains to be seen if Shawn's character continues to appear throughout the reboot or if his brief appearance was merely a nod to fans.

Throughout his career, Shawn has stepped into a variety of diverse roles that prove he's one of the best character actors working right now. The star continues to appear as Dr. John Sturgis in "Young Sheldon" and we can't wait to see what he does next.