6 Actors Defined By Their Breakout Roles

When you’ve become a part of a televised zeitgeist, it’s hard to get past your character.

Kyle Chandler makes his first television appearance since Friday Night Lights in the new Netflix original drama series, Bloodline. It’s a dark and deft family drama set in the Florida Keys; in it, Chandler plays John Rayburn, an upstanding detective whose family is hiding a nefarious secret. No matter how good Bloodline turns out to be, viewers will undoubtedly take a while to adjust to Chandler’s portrayal of anyone besides Coach Taylor. In light of that, here are a handful actors who are so clearly defined by their long-running television roles that it’s difficult for us to see them as anyone else.

Kyle Chandler as Coach Eric Taylor

“It’s nice when people come up to me and say ‘Hey Coach how you doing?’But after five or so years you start to want to be called something else,” Chandler said on a recent phone interview. I personally yelled “Coach Taylor!!!!” when he appeared on screen during Wolf of Wall Street and half-expected him to let out a “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose” through most of the first episode of Bloodline. Kyle Chandler is America’s Dad. Kyle Chandler is America’s Coach.

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano

Gandolfini played the original gourmet television anti-hero on The Sopranos for so long that it was difficult to see him in roles like in Zero Dark Thirty and The Taking of Pelham 123 and not think of anyone but Tony. R.I.P., big guy.

Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Frasier Crane

While researching this article, I realized that Frasier was on television for eleven seasons, which is a perplexing travesty I don’t have time to get into here. For Grammer, even with stints in the X-Men movies, it’s impossible to see him as anyone else but the neurotic and self-involved psychiatrist he played on the show.

Josh Radnor as Ted Mosby

As Ted Mosby on How I Met Your Mother, Radnor solidified his place in the pantheon of American sitcoms as a sniveling sad dude. He’s gone on to produce saccharine twee indie bullshit that could all very well just star another iteration of Mosby.

David Schwimmer as Ross Geller

When HBO featured him in the miniseries Band of Brothers, it was an unlikely casting choice that simply didn’t work. And fans aren’t forgetting the hapless paleontologist her played on Friends either: Back in 2013, the actor was targeted with graffiti outside of his home that read “Ross is Not Cool.” 

Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson

Perhaps it’s too soon to tell, since Parks and Recreation only just went off the air. But Nick Offerman is as rugged an outdoorsman as his mustachioed alter ego, Ron Swanson, and so it seems like they’ll be considered one and the same for his next few roles.