Getty/Warner Bros. via Everett Collection
Every year, people all over the entertainment world pull together their lists of the best performances, actors, directors, film, and shows of the year, making special note of all of the newcomers who managed to breakthrough into the mainstream with exceptional projects in 2013. However, when we were running through out lists of the best breakout actors of the year, we happened to notice that many of our new favorite television characters bore some strong resemblances to some of our favorite characters from classic sitcoms.
With that in mind, we've picked 10 of our favorite breakout television stars of 2013 and cast them in roles from our favorite shows of yesteryear.
Joe Lo Truglio as Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith ShowAs the weird, bumbling, food-obsessed Det. Charles Boyle, Joe Lo Truglio has been stealing scenes week after week on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and we think he could continue to put all of that strange ineptness to use as Barney Fife, the nervous, incompetent deputy to Andy Griffith's Sheriff Andy Taylor. Lo Truglio's proven that he excels at making life more complicated for others, and he would be able to portray the perfect mix of heart and humor.
James Wolk as Wally Cleaver from Leave It to BeaverJames Wolk specializes in characters that are charming, popular and intelligent, which makes him the perfect pick to play the Beaver's charismatic older brother. Sure, he's a lot older than Wally was on the show, but it's hard to think of an actor who would be better at portraying a character described by all of the girls as "the most," because as Zach on The Crazy Ones, Wolk is the most charming, funny and attractive actor on TV right now.
Tatiana Maslany as One of Charlie's AngelsIt's not quite a sitcom, but Charlie's Angels had the right combination of action and comedy that would make it the perfect vehicle for Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany. On the show, she's proven that she can handle whatever twists and turns come her way, as well as being able to hold her own in a fight, but Maslany is also funny and charming enough to handle the show's more humorous moments with ease. Plus, with Maslany at the forefront, this would finally be a Charlie's Angels reboot worth watching.
Andre Braugher as Lou Grant from The Mary Tyler Moore ShowAndre Braugher's been a well-respected television actor for a long time now, but as Captain Ray Holt on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, he proved that he can handle comedy just as well — if not better — than he does drama. We think he'd be perfect to take on the role of Lou Grant, Mary Richards' tough but loving boss on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He's already got plenty of experience keeping a group of goofballs in line, and it would finally give him the chance to break out and play something other than a cop for a change.
Malin Ackerman as Samantha from BewitchedJust try and put the terrible Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell film out of your mind for a second, and instead picture Malin Akerman as the loveable witch struggling to balance her magical powers and her role as a normal housewife. Ackerman's honed her comedy chops on the new sitcom Trophy Wife, and her perky-yet-sarcatsic demeanor makes her the perfect choice to take on Samantha. Plus, she's proven that she's great with phsyical comedy, which will come in handy when it's time for her to wiggle her nose.
Nicole Beharie as Agent 99 on Get SmartA beautiful, intelligent, highly skilled agent tasked with balancing both her bumbling, confused sidekick and a top secret mission? It may sound like Nicole Beharie's Sleepy Hollow character Abbie Mills, but it's actually Agent 99 from the sitcom Get Smart, which proves that Beharie would be the ideal choice for the role. She's got the looks, smarts, and comedic chops to take on the slapstick spy comedy, but also has plenty of experience with the more action-intensive elements. On top of all that, she's a compelling actress, who would be able to give the character enough depth to keep her from being a complete caricature. Just add Tom Mison as Maxwell Smart, and you've got yourself a show.
Albert Tsai as Dennis from Dennis the MenaceAt only nine years old, Albert Tsai has become one of the biggest breakout stars of the year through his role as the quirky, hilarious Bert, one of Kate's stepsons on Trophy Wife. When it comes time for Tsai to properly break out, say into feature films or a reboot of a classic sitcom, we think there would be no better vehicle for him than as everyone's favorite troublemaker Dennis the Menace. He's got enough charm to keep Dennis loveable, despite his antics, but would also be able to give the character a much needed dose of weirdness.
Corey Stoll as Fred from I Love LucyAs Rep. Peter Russo on Netflix's House of Cards, Corey Stoll did most of the show's heavy emotional lifting. If he's looking for some lighter fare, we think he'd do a great job as Fred Mertz, the stingy husband of Lucy's best pal Ethel. Since Fred fought in World War I and lived through the Great Depression, it gives Stoll enough gravitas to ground the character, while also giving him plenty of screwball plots and slapstick comedy to keep things light and up-beat — plus, no Kevin Spacey around to manipulate all of his actions. It's a win-win.
Rebel Wilson in Her Own Version of The Carol Burnett ShowRebel Wilson's show Super Fun Night may not have done as well as many were expecting, but she's still had a pretty stellar year. We think that the best way for her to capitalize on that would be her own Carol Burnett-inspired variety show. She's already got plenty of experience writing sketches, and even created and starred in several sketch shows and comedies in Australia. And since she showcased her musical talents in last year's Pitch Perfect, she's become the ideal candidate to bring back the variety show format to a younger generation.
Michael Ealy as Lionel from The JeffersonsThough his new sci-fi drama Almost Human has only just begun airing, Michael Ealy has become one of the most popular new television stars, due to the perfect combination of good looks, charm and talent. We think all of those qualities would serve him well as Lionel Jefferson, the smart, kind, wise-cracking son of George and Louise. Ealy's already proven that he has enough charm to take on the part, but Lionel's complicated relationship with his father and his wife, Jenny, would give him plenty of opportunities to showcase his acting talent. With Ealy on board, there's no doubt that Lionel would become much more than just a funny supporting character.
We all know Adolf Hitler did not die as a result of an organized assassination plot against him but this fact does not hinder the enjoyment of watching how that attempt by members of his own Nazi command plays out. Reminiscent of great ‘60s WWII conspiracy thrillers such as 36 Hours and Night of the Generals this film centers on the actions of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) a loyal German officer who nevertheless is horrified by what he sees Hitler doing to his country and is determined to find a way to stop him. In 1942 he tries to persuade senior commanders to overthrow Hitler and later in 1943 while recovering from combat injuries he joins the German Resistance a secretive anti-Hitler group comprised of several men in the highest ranks on the inside. Using Hitler’s own contingency plan labeled Operation Valkyrie to prop up the government should he die this group puts their assassination and take over plan in motion. As the eye patch-wearing SS colonel Tom Cruise is excellent. He comfortably manages to get to the heart of Stauffenberg and portray a man who clearly loves his country and feels it’s a patriotic duty to stop the madness. Wisely Cruise (who produced through his United Artists studio) surrounds himself with actors of the first stripe. Among those supporting the mission are: Kenneth Branagh in a relatively brief turn as an German officer; Bill Nighy as one of von Stauffenberg’s closest allies in the venture; and Eddie Izzard as a communications specialist charged with cutting Hitler’s contact to the rest of Germany. There’s also superb work from Terence Stamp as another high-ranking conspirator and the always great Tom Wilkinson as career officer Fredrick Fromm who seems to be playing all sides despite appearing to be a stern supporter of the Fuhrer. And as Stauffenberg’s loyal wife Carice van Houten (Black Book) looks lovely and hits just the right notes as her husband’s sounding board. Although he has guided big popcorn pictures such as Superman Returns and X-Mens director Bryan Singer has also given us intense thrillers like the Oscar winning Usual Suspects and Apt Pupil. So the command he shows in turning out this nifty thriller should come as no surprise. Clearly Singer knows how to grab hold of an audience and keep them on the edge of their seats -- no easy trick here since the outcome is never in doubt. He keeps this going like a speeding train ratcheting up the suspense at every turn and focusing his camera directly into the eyes and sweat of these courageous conspirators. Valkyrie is a pulse-pounding heart-racing excitement from start to finish.
Although actor/screenwriter Mike White writes with hilarious wit for his comrade in comedy Jack Black--in films such as School of Rock and Orange County--he is also becoming a master at the slice-of-life dramedy. With The Good Girl he expertly gave us a bored married woman stuck in a nowhere job trying to capture a little happiness. Now with Year of the Dog he hands us the ultimate sad sack Peggy (Molly Shannon) who is practically inseparable from her beagle Pencil. Life is uncomplicated and safe with her beloved pet an excuse she uses to great effect in order to avoid human contact as much as possible. But Peggy's world comes crashing down when Pencil meets a mysterious demise in the neighbor's yard. Shattered Peggy isn’t sure where to turn to fill the void. Friends family and co-workers try to distract her but in the end she emerges from her loss with a newfound sense of what will make her happy in the world. Molly Shannon huh? The SNL alum has generally been relegated to kooky sidekick roles after her disastrous (but somewhat guilty pleasure-ish) starring vehicle Superstar. But who knew she had the chops to pull something like this off. She’s perfect as the lonely downcast Peggy who has completely resigned herself to living with her dog as her only companion. Shannon gets to show off her wacky side in certain moments--like when she “adopts” about 20 dogs and lets them run all over her house--but the actress plays the majority of her role with restraint and great subtlety. Also quite good is Peter Sarsgaard as a fellow dog lover who starts off as a potential love interest for Peggy but ends up disappointing her like all the other humans in her life. His character’s unassumingly sweet and charming personality still wins you over even when he’s being a jerk to Peggy. Someone needs to give him an Oscar. In supporting roles there’s John C. Reilly as a blowhard and hunting enthusiast who lives next door to Peggy (and could be the reason Pencil died in the first place); Thomas McCarthy and Laura Dern as Peggy’s concerned but rather uptight brother and sister-in-law; and finally Regina King as Peggy’s saucy workmate just trying to give her friend a little excitement. Kudos all around. Mike White also tries his hand at wielding the camera for the first time with Year of the Dog--and much like his minimalist writing style he keeps the action fairly simple and focused. He seems to love the one-on-one scenes with his characters sitting across from each other--either in the living room at a lunch table or a desk--oftentimes with filled with long uncomfortable (or sometimes very comfortable) silences. Static yes but White obviously realizes his movies are more about what’s being said (or not being said) than the visuals. He also shows a real talent in guiding his actors to pitch-perfect performances--a very important part of being a good director. Of course not a lot happens in Year of the Dog which can be a drawback to indie movies of this ilk. It could be considered a giant bore-fest if you can’t connect with people who love their pets way too much. But if you can settle in and really listen to White’s quirky but ultimately realistic view on life as its dealt out you’ll really enjoy this stellar effort from the burgeoning filmmaking talent.