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Why The Corinthian From Netflix's Sandman Looks So Familiar

There is never a day's rest for the Lord of Dreams in "The Sandman." Besides seeking vengeance on cultists out of their depth and making deals with the actual devil, Tom Sturridge's unbelievably powerful cosmic being finds himself having to deal with a literal walking nightmare in the form of The Corinthian. 

Initially created to put fear into the minds of the dreamers, The Corinthian helps Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance) keep his captive under restraint, thus ensuring the living nightmare's freedom in the waking world, which lasts for over 100 years. And to bring such a conniving, calculated character to life in memorable fashion — particularly in a show crammed with so many memorable figures — the Netflix adaptation needed a pitch-perfect cast member to take on the role. 

In the end, the part of The Corinthian was left to an actor that had already dabbled in bringing major comic book stories to life in the past, and he pulled off this newest role in spades. Here's where you have seen him before.

Boyd Holbrook swept Kristen Wiig off her feet in The Skeleton Twins

Long before he was getting in people's heads and grinning from far too many orifices in "The Sandman," Corinthian's Boyd Holbrook was the super-smooth scuba instructor that caught the eye of Kristen Wiig in "The Skeleton Twins." Directed by Craig Johnson, the film reunited Wiig with her "Saturday Night Live" partner in crime, and "Barry" in the making, Bill Hader, pitting the two as paternal twins that reunite after having near-death experiences.

Besides rebuilding bridges with her estranged brother, the married Maggie (Wiig) finds herself drawn to Billy (Holbrook). This Australian scuba instructor sparks an act of infidelity and eventual self-reflection on where she is in life. Holbrook, a Kentucky-born actor and model, chose to tweak his character's origins, which went against a common issue that American actors appear to have when handling certain accents. "It's so funny how it's impossible for an American actor to play an English part or an Australian part. But by all means, come and bastardize our accent as much as you want," he told Interview Magazine. "But it was fun to do a comedy — I thought it was better to play him that way, as an Australian. It needed that extra little bit of something." 

It was only a year later that Holbrook would revert to his standard American accent and apply it in telling the story of one of the most well-known criminals in history.

Boyd Holbrook narrated Narcos and the fall of Pablo Escobar

In 2015, Holbrook signed up alongside Pedro Pascal (long before he became Din Djarin of "The Mandalorian") to play DEA agent Steve Murphy in the critically acclaimed series "Narcos." Released on Netflix and created by Chris Brancato, Carlo Bernard, and Doug Miro, the first two seasons chronicled the rise and fall of the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura) and the two lead agents tasked with bringing him to justice. The first two seasons followed Murphy and Peña's (Pascal) efforts to take Escobar down as his enterprise grew exponentially. However, as the history books and the show revealed, it didn't last forever, and Escobar was eventually killed.

Keen to highlight the fallout and the spread of the drug business stretching beyond Escobar's reign, the show's creators rounded things off with a third season in which Holbrook didn't appear. As explained in an interview with Variety, though, the star had no ill will over the expansion in the story, mainly because the facts confirmed his character wasn't around then. "Once his mission, his job was complete, he was back on a plane with his two little girls that he adopted through all of the turmoil and devastation that was going on at the time and went back to the States," Holbrook said about legendary lawman, Murphy. "That was the end of his journey, his arc." Case closed.

Boyd Holbrook stood against the Wolverine in his final days

Widely regarded as one of the best superhero movies ever made, Hugh Jackman's swan song as the adamantium-laced hero of the "X-Men" franchise also homed one of the best henchman, as well, in the form of Holbrook's Donald Pierce. A longstanding enemy from the comics, James Mangold's revered X-Men finale depicts Pierce as the top thug tracking down Dafne Keen's Laura, the daughter of our favorite mutant hero.

Delivering a performance that makes you almost wish he could also somehow get cast as Gambit, Pierce is the smirking thorn in Logan's side — a character who has uneasy respect for the worn-down Weapon X he is crossing paths with, at one point even referring to himself as a fan. "Donald's very much in awe or a bit of a fan to Logan," Holbrook explained in an interview with BUILD, saying, "What I wanted to stay from was, 'Oh here comes the bad guy.' That's not really that fun so I tried to give him as much of a personality and life as much as possible." 

In the pantheon of "X-Men" foes, Holbrook's metal-armed antagonist stands apart as a more grounded goon, compared to the other grand, world-conquering wrongdoers like Magneto and Apocalypse. "Bad guy" he may have been, but there's no denying he was a great one when it came to "Logan."

Holbrook took on The Predator — and accepted it as a loss

Regardless of "The Predator" being a rather low-rated entry in the franchise rankings (with the most recent entry, "Prey," getting leagues ahead), Holbrook still gave it his all, taking point in Shane Black's poorly received film. As the U.S. Army sniper, Quinn McKenna, he led the way against this chapter's humanoid hunter that was all about slicing and dicing opponents up in various fashions. Sadly, the result didn't follow with the same level of success as its predecessors and was a significant misstep in the series that, following its release, Holbrook himself accepted gracefully.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Holbrook acknowledged that trying to replicate an iconic action movie would never be easy. "I just think the first one caught lightning in a bottle," Holbrook said, reflecting on the misfire that earned only 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. "And with people wanting to do more, maybe you should just let a sleeping dog lie, sometimes. That was a big takeaway for me."

He helped B.J. Novak find Vengeance

Not content with filling up watchlists with "The Sandman" in 2022, Holbrook has also appeared in B.J. Novak's directorial debut for a feature film, "Vengeance." Released on July 29, the film (which Novak also wrote) follows a New York-based journalist who takes a trip to West Texas to investigate the death of an old flame that he met some time before. It's been met with positive reviews since its release and marks a change of pace for Holbrook, who tapped into the funny side of this reasonably dark tale. As the brother of the deceased, Ty Shaw, Holbrook described the character to ComingSoon as someone who "wore his heart on his sleeve," which was quite a shift from the likes of "Narcos" and "Logan." 

"B.J. gave me a wonderful book at the beginning of the process called 'Truth in Comedy,' recalled Holbrook. "So we never tried to play the jokes. We just really led with our foot forward in the authenticity of this family and who they are in this eccentric group of characters." 

Going for the genuine laughs sounds very much in line with Novak's previous work in "The Office," begging the question of how Holbrook would handle working at Dunder Mifflin. While that is a nightmare in itself, you can instead see him being a nightmare in the first season of "The Sandman," available on Netflix.