5 Future A-Listers Who Were Hiding in ‘90s Sitcoms
Even the most accomplished actors at one point have had to take tiny parts to get their foot in the door — these pretzels are making me thirsty.
Back during the roaring 1990s when multi-cam sitcoms dominated TV and seasons ran for 20-plus episodes, the sheer volume of comedic television content coming out on a weekly basis necessitated a steady stream of featured extras and co-stars plucked off the streets of Los Angeles with big dreams and bigger hair. If you were a working actor who was still waiting for your breakthrough role during that decade, chances are that you appeared in at least one of the many classic laugh-track sitcoms that are currently enjoying a second life in streaming reboots, rewatch podcasts and sequel shows.
As new generations of fans discover these classic shows, they’re bound to spot a future A-lister in a supporting role or catch a glimpse of Leonardo DiCaprio getting some low-stakes camera time in the background of Roseanne. Here are five soon-to-be superstars who cashed checks on 1990s sitcoms, starting with…
Jon Favreau as Eric the Clown on ‘Seinfeld’
Before he lit the movie world on fire with his many entries in the MCU, Favreau was stomping out flames with his comically oversized shoes in the Seinfeld Season Five episode “The Fire.” The classic episode about George Costanza’s iconic cowardice aired in 1994, just two years before Favreau propelled himself (and Vince Vaughn) to prominence with his breakthrough buddy comedy Swingers.
Craig Robinson as A Surly Clerk on ‘Friends’
Though maybe not quite as well-known as the other names on the list, Robinson is sitcom royalty for his later performances on The Office and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, so his single-scene appearance as an unnamed, unamused public servant whom Phoebe unnecessarily bothers while changing her name in the Season 10 episode “The One with Princess Consuela” lands on the list.
Dave Chappelle as Dave on ‘Home Improvement’
The legendary stand-up comic’s single-episode appearance as a “Tool Time” audience member who gets valuable (and slightly sexist) relationship advice from Tim Allen was very nearly Chappelle’s big break, as the network decided that he and his then-comedy partner Jim Breuer had the necessary chemistry for a spin-off series based on their Home Improvement characters. Thus, Buddies was born — and, thus, it was quickly aborted.
Jon Stewart Played Andy Dick’s Twin on ‘NewsRadio’
If the NewsRadio production team only knew how drastically different the lives of the three men in this scene would play out, maybe they would have started Joe Rogan on Rogaine and kept Andy Dick away from the tequila at the wrap party. Stewart was already a rising star in the comedy world when he appeared in the episode “Twins” in 1997 — he had just appeared as himself in an episode of The Larry Sanders Show wherein the entire plotline focused around how much more the network liked Stewart than Garry Shandling. Still, Stewart would have to wait two more years to graduate from Dick’s twin to Daily Show host.
Adam Scott as Griff Hawkins on ‘Boy Meets World’
Another sitcom icon who wouldn’t hit his stride until the following decade, Scott appeared in three episodes of Boy Meets World as the interim leader of the bullies who charmed his way up the ranks of John Adams High before walking off into the sunset. In case that sounds uncomfortably unlike the Ben Wyatt we grew to love on Parks and Recreation, don’t worry — Scott’s story of a painfully awkward hug attempt after the cameras stopped rolling that haunted him for three decades until he appeared on a recent episode of “Pod Meets World” will put you back in the mood for a calzone.