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Why Agent Parker From NCIS Looks So Familiar

"NCIS" is one of the longest-running primetime shows of all time. Airing for almost 20 years on CBS, the show has seen numerous characters come and go over the course of its tenure on the network. One such character is Special Agent Alden Parker, whose recent arrival eventually led him to replace Gibbs as the head of the team -– and pave the way for Mark Harmon's eventual exit from the series.

Parker's actor likely has quite the familiar face for anyone who has kept tabs on film and television over the last few decades. That is because he is portrayed by beloved character actor Gary Cole, a Hollywood mainstay who has appeared in a wide array of genres throughout his career and amassed a notable IMDb list of credits in the process. With all of that said, let's dive in and take a look at some of Cole's most prominent performances to date.

He played Mike Brady in A Very Brady Movie

The first entry on this list is one of Gary Cole's earliest notable roles. In 1995, the actor took on the role of Mike Brady in "The Brady Bunch Movie," a simultaneous adaptation and spoof of the classic sitcom family. "The Brady Bunch Movie" sees the titular Brady household bring their 1970s style to the 1990s, offering up a fish-out-of-water comedy as the old-fashioned characters clash with a more modern sensibility. "The Brady Bunch Movie" was generally well-received at the time of its release, with the reviews it got at the time translating to a 63% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Following the success of "The Brady Bunch Movie," Gary Cole would continue to portray Mike Brady. From the initial outing, he played the role again in "A Very Brady Sequel" and again in the 2002 TV movie "The Brady Bunch in The White House." Beyond his live-action performance as the Brady patriarch, Cole also voiced the character on "Family Guy," a series he has provided voiceover work for since 2000.

He asked Peter to come in on Saturday in Office Space

In 1999, Gary Cole appeared in Mike Judge's "Office Space," a quintessential 1990s satire of office culture seen through the eyes of the drones working for a major corporation. In the film, Cole portrayed Initech Vice President Bill Lumbergh, a monotone managerial type fixated on micromanaging his employees. The film focuses on a trio of workers who hatch a scheme to get revenge on the company by slowly siphoning small amounts of money using a computer program –- just like the plot of "Superman III."

At this point in time, there is an argument to be made that this remains the most iconic performance of Cole's career. Over 20 years have passed since he stepped into the screen with his coffee mug, and his catchphrases and demeanor have become legendary fodder for memes and impersonations. In fact, the character has become so iconic that Cole even reprised the role in 2015 for a HipChat commercial.

He was an announcer in Dodgeball

In 2004, Gary Cole appeared in yet another major comedy of the era: "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story." The film centers on a group of warring fitness centers led by Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn) and White Goodman (Ben Stiller) as they duke it out in a dodgeball tournament to win a $50,000 grand prize. In the film, Cole portrayed Cotton McKnight, an announcer for the film's central dodgeball tournament and commentator on the climactic showdown. As McKnight, Cole portrayed the character as an eloquent and well-spoken sports commentator, juxtaposed by his more casual, seemingly X-Games-inspired co-host Pepper Brooks (Jason Bateman).

In the years since "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" debuted in theaters, many fans have clamored for another showdown between Average Joe's Gym and Globo Gym. A sequel was reported by The Hollywood Reporter to be in development in 2013 with much of the original "Dodgeball" cast returning, but there has been little to no movement on a sequel since that initial announcement. With no word on a second "Dodgeball," it seems unlikely that we will see Cole reprise his role as Cotton anytime soon.

He taught Ricky Bobby how to win in Talladega Nights

In 2006, Gary Cole went on to appear in yet another beloved comedy with the debut of "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby." Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's follow-up to "Anchorman" swapped out the 1970s San Diego locale for the modern-day NASCAR circuit in the south, focusing on the titular driver (Ferrell) as he competes in the race of his career at Talladega Speedway. In the film, Gary Cole plays Reese Bobby, Ricky Bobby's (Ferrell) estranged father who returns to help Ricky re-learn how to drive after his mid-film accident gives him the yips.

Reese Bobby is the source of the expression "if you're not first, you're last," which has gone on to become one of the film's most enduring lines. Cole portrayed Reese alongside Jane Lynch, who appeared as Ricky's mother Lucy. "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" was a hit at the time of its release, going on to become regarded as one of the classic comedies of the 2000s.

He was Jed Bartlet's second vice president in The West Wing

One of Gary Cole's most notable television roles of his career came in the latter half of NBC's "The West Wing." In the beloved political drama series, Cole portrayed Bob Russell, the second vice president of Josiah "Jed" Bartlet (Martin Sheen). Presented as a more conservative politician than his president, Russell was introduced as a means to balance Bartlet's presidential ticket and appeal to working-class voters, particularly within his home state of Colorado.

Cole's tenure in "The West Wing" came after the departure of John Hoynes (Tim Matheson), following the latter's resignation. As Bob Russell, he would remain a consistent presence on the show from Season 5 through Season 7, appearing in a total of 22 episodes. Though a member of the Democratic Party alongside many of the show's characters, he was often portrayed as an oppositional figure against Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits), against whom he would eventually vie for the presidential nomination.

He got served in Pineapple Express

Two years after the release of "Talladega Nights," Gary Cole jumped back into the world of Judd Apatow-produced comedies for David Gordon Green's "Pineapple Express." In the film, Cole portrayed Ted Jones, a vicious crime lord who Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) sees committing a murder when he arrives to serve him a subpoena. Ted's actions force Dale and his weed dealer Saul (James Franco) to go on the run, eventually leading to a showdown in Ted's lair where the gangster is killed in a climactic showdown against Dale.

One of the best elements of Cole's performance as Ted in "Pineapple Express" is the sheer amount of intensity and menace that he brings to his role in the comedy. Much of the film's humor is based around the juxtaposition of the two leads as unlikely action movie heroes, and Cole's performance as a genuinely frightening crime lord helps sell the disconnect. "Pineapple Express" was a major hit upon its initial release, and the film quickly went on to become one of the most beloved stoner comedies of all time.

He played a ballistics expert on The Good Wife

Last but not least, we have one of Gary Cole's most consistent television roles of the last decade prior to his involvement in "NCIS." In "The Good Wife," Gary Cole had a recurring role as Kurt McVeigh, a conservative ballistics expert with a strict moral code regarding who he testifies for in court. Though seemingly a polar opposite to Christine Baranski's Diane Lockhart, the two characters eventually begin a romance that would last the entirety of the series, and "The Good Wife" eventually saw them get married.

Following the success of "The Good Wife," a spinoff series was eventually greenlit. Focusing on Baranski's character, "The Good Fight" debuted on CBS All Access (later moving to Paramount+) in 2017 to pick up where the previous series left off. As Diane's husband, Kurt came along for the ride, giving Cole a recurring role on the spinoff. Season 5 of "The Good Fight" ended in 2021, with the sixth season currently on the way.