We’ve all had those “I didn’t know he was in this!” and “So that’s where she got her start!” moments while watching certain movies. So, in case you haven’t noticed them, here’s some Jewish actors you didn’t know were in those things.
Elizabeth Banks, Catch Me If You Can: Before she began dazzling us in 30 Rock and The Hunger Games, Elizabeth had a lot of minor roles. You may remember her being in Wet Hot American Summer and the 40-Year-Old Virgin (both movies appear later on this list), and several others as well. But here, in her first role in a major movie other than as Betsy in the first Tobey MaGuire Spider-Man, Liz plays Lucy, a bank teller who falls under the charm of Leo DiCaprio’s Frank Abignale, Jr., and goes on to show him the ins and outs of basically everything he needs to know to become a successful check forger. Don’t worry, Elizabeth, we still love you.
H. Jon Benjamin, Wet Hot American Summer: I feel like every time I watch this movie, I recognize another actor I didn’t realize was in it. There’s the main cast of Members of the Tribe Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, and Banks, as well as Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Molly Shannon, and more, but there are also some pretty fantastic cameos, that include H. Jon. For one, we see 30 Rock’s Judah Friedlander making an appearance as Shannon’s horrible ex-husband Ron. But the real shocker is that Benjamin, also known as the voice of Carl the gas station employee in Family Guy, Bob in Bob’s Burgers, and, most importantly, Sterling Archer in Archer, is the voice of the inspirational canned vegetables. Never forget his credo: “If you wanna smear mud on your ass, smear mud on your ass–just be honest about it.”
Judah Friedlander, Zoolander: In addition to breaking Molly Shannon’s heart, Friedlander played a part in emotionally scarring a fellow Jewish actor, Ben Stiller, in Zoolander. When Derek makes his emotional return to his origins, the Coal Mining County of Southern New Jersey, sporting his matching suit, garment bag, and suitcase, he’s met by his father and brothers. His father Larry, played by Jon Voight, tells Derek to stay away from his brothers Scrappy (Vince Vaughn!) and Luke (Friedlander). Maybe he should have listened to his father; it’s not very well ventilated down there in the coal mines.
Seth Rogen, Anchorman: Our favorite relatable chubby, bearded pot head, before he hit it big with Pineapple Express, played an eager cameraman taping Miss Veronica Corningstone at both the cat fashion show (at which fashion curiosity did NOT kill the cat) and at what was perhaps one of the more remarkable things ever to happen to San Diago—or, even, the world: The birth of a baby panda.
Alex Borstein, Ted: While not necessarily a household name, Borstein plays our favorite red-headed TV wife. No, not Wilma Flintstone—Lois Griffin on “Family Guy.” Borenstein plays young John’s mother, who, when Ted first comes to life, says, “You’re just like the baby Jesus!”
Sara Gilbert, The Simpsons: The former Roseanne star and current co-host on The Talk who recently married her partner Linda Perry was in a classic Simpsons episode in the midst of her Roseanne days. In 1992, the fourth season of the iconic animated TV show, Bart falls in love with his new next-door neighbor. Laura Powers, a teenager whose beauty and badass demeanor make Bart forget all about cooties, is voiced by Gilbert in the episode “New Kid On the Block.”
Jonah Hill, The 40-year-old Virgin: Remember when Steve Carell marched triumphantly across the street to ask Trish on a date? At her “We Sell Your Stuff on EBay” store? And there was that weird guy wanting to buy the platform shoes with the fish in them? Watch it again. It’s Jonah Hill. In fact, I remember that, when Superbad came out two years later, the buzz was about “that guy from 40-Year-Old Virgin getting a movie.”
Freaks and Geeks: I recently rewatched Freaks and Geeks and re-realized two things: It is an absolute crime against humanity that it was cancelled after just one season, and that some of our favorite Jews highlight the star-studded cast: Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Lizzy Caplan, and more appear throughout the series.
A special note about this show: I’d like to point out my favorite Jewish appearance. Before she became Karen on the Office, Rashida Jones played a Karen in episode four of F&G, during which she relentlessly bullies Sam. But don’t worry, Rashida. Your roles as Karen Filipelli, Zooey (in I Love You, Man), and, most importantly, ANN PERKINS! Have since claimed our love.
Ben Stiller, Happy Gilmore: After Heavy Weights but before pretty much any other role of Stiller’s you’ll remember, Ben played the seemingly sweet orderly with the high-pitched voice at the retirement home that Happy’s grandma has to move into. He’s lucky that he was able to win back our hearts with roles like Zoolander, too, cause he was a jerk in that movie.
Lori Beth Denberg, Dodgeball: Tragically, one of our favorite stars from Nickelodeon’s All That hasn’t seen many acting roles since the show ended. However, one of her few roles was as prospective cheerleader, number double zero, Martha Johnstone, in Justin Long’s flashback to last year’s tryouts. The woman we all remember as Connie Muldoon shattered our opinions of her as an innocent childhood role model with her only line, “I’m not wearing any panties,” and makes us all super grossed out when she almost asphyxiates Long (get it?) with the site of the aforementioned missing panties. Still, it was nice to see her in a relatively big movie.
Now, with this last one, get ready for your mind to be blown.
Haaaaave you met Ted?
How I Met Your Mother’s Josh Radnor made his first appearance in a short based on one of our most beloved TV Shows from childhood. And someone call Marshall Erickson, because it seems he may not have been destined to be Ted’s best man after all. Why? Ted played an uncredited waiter in the 1998 short Barney’s Great Adventure.
Did we miss any? Comment and let us know!