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Why Nolan Prince From Law & Order Looks So Familiar

As any self-respecting television fan knows, the flagship "Law & Order" series made its triumphant return to the small screen a couple of months back. As Season 21 of the series continues to unfold, it's clear that, even after more than a decade off the air, "Law & Order" is as vital and relevant today as it ever was.

Of course, part of the joy of the series' primetime resurgence has been the return of original stars like Sam Waterston, Anthony Anderson, and more. There have been, understandably, quite a few new faces among the cast of the beloved procedural's revival, because new faces are as much a part of the "Law & Order" landscape as brutal crimes, quippy one-liners, and shocking narrative twists. And as it is, there's one fresh face in the new season of "Law & Order" who no doubt looks more familiar than most. It belongs to the actor who portrays current Executive Assistant District Attorney Nolan Prince. Here's where you've seen him before.

Dancy flirted with a complicated commoner in Ella Enchanted

That actor's name is Hugh Dancy. And even if you don't recognize the name, Dancy's face should be very familiar as he ahs featured prominently in a handful of genuinely intriguing projects over the past two decades. While many of those projects have fronted Dancy's dramatic chops, one of his biggest early roles came in a decidedly different sort of film.

That film was Disney's 2004 comedic fable "Ella Enchanted." Pit as a modern reimagining of the "Cinderella" mythos, "Ella Enchanted" found Anne Hathaway hilariously portraying a commoner who's under the control of a tricky spell that ensures she's nothing but obedient to anyone who gives her an order, including her vile stepmother (Joanna Lumley) and step-sisters (Lucy Punch, and Jennifer Higham). It naturally also finds her falling for a charming prince in the guise of the floppy-haired, boy-band famous Prince Charmont, who was indeed played by Hugh Dancy.

Per the flick's Rotten Tomatoes ratings, "Ella Enchanted" didn't quite hit the mark with critics or audiences when it was released. It has become a bit of a cult hit film in recent years, and continues to serve as proof-positive that not only does Hugh Dancy boast legit leading-man swagger, but he should also work more frequently in comedy.  

Hannibal found Hugh Dancy flirting with a murderous monster

After his "Ella Enchanted" breakout, Hugh Dancy spent a few years cranking out memorable supporting turns in well-received big screen projects, including "Adam," "Martha Marcy May Marlene," and "Our Idiot Brother." In 2013, however, Dancy got what initially looked like the biggest break of his career when he score the second lead in a hotly anticipated NBC drama titled "Hannibal." Yes, that "Hannibal." The one that delivered three utterly brilliant, and wildly disturbing seasons of "The Silence of the Lambs"-centered drama before NBC gave it the proverbial axe in 2015. As most "Hannibal" fans know all too well, even if the show's cancellation was upsetting, it also wasn't entirely a surprise ... as, well, not many people actually watched "Hannibal" during its network run.

If you're among the many who missed out on "Hannibal," the series found Dancy portraying FBI profiler Will Graham opposite Mad Mikkelson's murderous and cannibalistic psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter. And those who, ahem, devoured every chilling moment between Will and Hannibal during its network days or on streaming, can attest that duo delivered one of the most memorable tete-a-tete's in television history during the show's three season run — a fact that's left the whole of "Hannibal" fandom desperate for new episodes by any means necessary. Whether or not the series ever returns, "Hannibal" remains arguably the high-water mark in both Dancy's and Mikkelson's careers.

Dancy was a war-mongering presidential advisor in the final season of Homeland

After the unfortunate demise of "Hannibal," Hugh Dancy has only continued to bolster his track record of delivering more than memorable supporting turns on screens big and small. He's continued to do so in some truly impressive projects as well, including Showtime's breathless espionage thriller "Homeland."

That series followed the travails of bipolar CIA operative Carrie Mathison (Dancy's real-life partner Claire Danes) as she navigated the perilous worlds of U.S. politics and international terrorism. There was obviously a lot more going on for Carrie and her close-knit group of allies during the eight-season run of "Homeland." And that was probably never truer than in the series' electrifying final season where Carrie sought to help long-time ally Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) weasel in and out of numerous international incidents.

It just so happens that Dancy's sneering, devoutly pro-war presidential advisor John Zabel was acting to ensure some of those incidents actually happened. Despite the fact that their Season 8 arcs were as frequently intertwined as any two characters on the series, Dancy and Danes didn't share any actual screen time in "Homeland." And even as Dancy couldn't possibly have upstaged the work of his insanely talented wife in the final season of "Homeland," his scene-stealing turn as the dubious and domineering John Zabel really was one of the season's unfettered highlights.