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Why Spencer From B Positive Looks So Familiar

Inspired by the creator's actual kidney transplant in 2013, CBS sitcom "B Positive" depicts the misadventures of Drew (Thomas Middleditch), a therapist who needs a new kidney as soon as possible. However, Drew's B-positive blood and lack of viable donors mean his condition could become terminal. Enter Gina (Annaleigh Ashford), an old high school classmate who unexpectedly matches with Drew and offers him her kidney. Unexpectedly, however, Gina and Drew find they may connect on more than just their blood types.

In Season 2 of the show, Gina receives an unexpected inheritance and buys the Valley Hills retirement home, where she works. This brings several new characters onboard the series, including administrator Althea Ludlum (Anna Marie Horsford), and residents Harry (Hector Elizondo), Bette (Jane Seymour), and Spencer Williams (Jim Beaver). A former NYPD cop, Spencer struggles to adjust to political correctness and often resorts to gross comments as a result.

Any viewer of "B Positive" may wonder where they'd seen the actor who plays Spencer before. If they're veteran TV fans, they're almost certainly familiar with at least one of his projects, including a beloved HBO series, multiple films, and a long-running fantasy drama with a strong following.

Before he was a character actor, Beaver was a theater and TV writer

After serving in the Marines and attending school, Jim Beaver supported himself through various odd jobs while also acting and pursuing writing (via The AV Club). Acting eventually made him famous, but it wasn't Beaver's first passion: "I don't recall it ever being anything like a career choice. I wanted to be a film historian when I got out of the Marines. You know, because there's so much money in that."

His first onscreen credit was an uncredited role on "Dallas." However, Beaver mainly stuck to stage acting while writing plays and for television, including episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." After the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike hurt his freelance career (via The Roanoaker), he was lucky enough to get noticed by a talent agent and receive an audition for the 1989 Vietnam drama "In Country." Perhaps the agent sensed his veteran background, as Beaver noted, "And having been in Vietnam myself, I felt like that maybe gave me a little bit of an edge" (via The AV Club).

Thanks to the film's critical success, Beaver's career was changed forever, as it shifted from cult writer to in-demand character actor.

He was a prolific actor in the 1990s

If you watched a network series in the 1990s, there was a good chance Jim Beaver had a walk-on part in an episode or played a recurring character. The actor's television credits on IMDb in that decade include "Reasonable Doubt," "Lois and Clark," "Home Improvement," and "The X-Files." He also worked on several episodes of "3rd Rock from the Sun" as the ironically named Happy Doug, a grumpy bartender at the bar where Harry (French Stewart) worked.

Beaver also appeared in several Hollywood films, including the beloved "Sister Act," "Sliver," and the Nick Nolte basketball film "Blue Chips," though he was only on the set for a full day (via The AV Club). Many of his roles at the time were fairly small, but Beaver's interiority and gruff voice always made his characters feel like they had full, complex lives just offscreen. This gift especially played well on television, where his presence immediately signaled warmth and depth. And as it turns out, his guest part in "NYPD Blue," where he worked for the first time with series creator David Milch, would lead to arguably his greatest single performance.

Deadwood was Beaver's favorite acting experience

Beaver proudly told The AV Club in 2017 that "'Deadwood' was the single greatest experience of my acting career. I would have gladly played Whitney Ellsworth for the rest of my life." To his surprise, show creator David Milch had remembered Beaver from his role as the Jesus Christ on a dreamy "NYPD Blue" episode, and invited him to audition to play the profane character of Ellsworth.

The actor said that as soon as he looked at the dialogue he'd have to read, it all felt incredibly natural: "I had never read a piece of material that I thought I understood and knew how to play as fully as this monologue."

A wayward gold miner who turns out to be one of the kindest characters on the HBO Western, Ellsworth proved to be a fan favorite, and Beaver remained on the series until the Season 3 finale, in what turned out to be the final episode due to the show's hefty budget (via TV Series Finale). Yet the actor still remembers working on "Deadwood" as "simply the most extraordinary acting experience I've ever had. It was a company of players who were extraordinary."

He played the beloved Bobby Singer on Supernatural

Jim Beaver did join another David Milch HBO series shortly after "Deadwood" ended, the surfing drama "John From Cincinatti," but it was quickly canceled after a season. Instead his greatest post-"Deadwood" television role turned out to be a recurring part on a CW horror drama that seemed nothing like the Shakespearean Western.

The actor originally guested on the first season finale of "Supernatural" as Winchester family friend Bobby Singer. Beaver told The AV Club that his character didn't die in the episode, "but nobody seemed to really suggest that he'd ever be back, so I was a little surprised when they called me during the next season." Like series heroes Sam and Dean Winchester, the rough but good-hearted Bobby has also dedicated his life to hunting supernatural creatures, and often acts as a guide and surrogate father to the siblings.

Like "Deadwood," Beaver feels lucky to have been on "Supernatural" for so long, and said of the show that "I've been able to play comedy, I've been able to play tragedy, some of the most deeply emotional moments I've ever played in my career, I've played on the set of 'Supernatural'" (The AV Club).

Beaver continues to work tirelessly on television and movies

He wasn't a regular on the CW series, so Beaver continued to work on other shows and movies while filming episodes of "Supernatural," until the show ended in 2020. He was a recurring character on several seasons of FX drama "Justified" as well and his character, Sheriff Shelby Partlow, proved to be crucial to Season 4's main storyline.

The actor has continued to shoot guest roles and supporting parts in movies, such as collaborating with director Guillermo Del Toro on his films "Crimson Peak" and "Nightmare Alley." His most recent of 155 acting credits on IMDb now includes the "Watchmen" series, "Better Call Saul," playing the Secretary of Defense on Amazon series "The Boys," and a recurring part as Chuck on "The Ranch." Maybe the secret to his success has really been his willingness to show up for every audition and every role, no matter how minor. As he told The Roanoaker, "Expect rejection, because that's all you're getting. Failure is the norm in this business, but you pull up your socks and start looking at what's next."