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Gary Cole

Gary Cole, a handsome actor trained on the Chicago theater scene first gained celebrity on TV in the mid-1980s with a series of accomplished performances in high-profile TV-movies and miniseries. Though youthful, Cole has brought strength and credibility to his portrayals of often flawed figures of authority. He won national attention with his breakthrough TV performance as charismatic accused killer Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald in the acclaimed miniseries "Fatal Vision" (NBC, 1984). As a former Green Beret officer accused (and convicted) of murdering his family, Cole displayed an impressive range that both encompassed and challenged the various points of view expressed about the true nature of his character. However, his roles as Mike Brady in "The Brady Bunch Movie" (1995) and sleazeball boss Bill Lumbergh in Mike Judge's "Office Space" (1999) reinvented Cole as one of the great deadpan comedians of his generation. A frequent presence on TV beginning in the mid-1980s, Cole's substantial telefilm work included a pairing with TV veteran Ed Asner in "Vital Signs" (CBS, 1986) playing father-and-son doctors cum substance abusers; portraying a newly widowed reluctant father in "Those She Left Behind" (NBC, 1989); and a memorable interpretation of General George Armstrong Custer in the miniseries "Son of the Morning Star" (ABC, 1991). He segued to series TV as the star of "Midnight Caller" (NBC, 1988-91). Here Cole was Jack Killian, a sensitive former San Francisco cop who leaves the force after accidentally killing his partner, finding redemption as "The Nighthawk," the host of an all-night, call-in radio show. Despite a busy TV career, Cole continued to tread the boards on the Chicago stage. After dropping out during his third year at Illinois State University, he helped form the Remains Theater. Cole left the Remains to become an ensemble member of the celebrated Steppenwolf Theatre Company where he appeared in such productions as "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," "Philadelphia Here I Come" and "Balm in Gilead." During a hiatus from "Midnight Caller," he returned to the Windy City to star in David Mamet's "Speed the Plow." Cole began dabbling in features beginning with a supporting role as young Secret Service agent who needles Clint Eastwood in "In the Line of Fire" (1993). He won appreciative notices for his uncanny recreation of always calm architect Mike Brady, Robert Reed's beloved TV sitcom dad, for "The Brady Bunch Movie" (1995), its sequel, "A Very Brady Movie" (1996) and a TV-movie follow-up "Bradys in the White House" (2002). Cole returned to series TV playing a far more ominous paternal figure in "American Gothic" (CBS, 1995-96). As Sheriff Lucas Buck, he cut a coolly menacing figure as a man with unusual--and perhaps supernatural--powers and influence in a sleepy North Carolina town. After the critically-hailed drama failed to catch on, Cole played a wide ranging assortment of characters from a conventional dad in "I'll Be Home for Christmas" (1998) to a sleazy attorney in "The Gift" (2000). At first, his portrayal of passive-aggressive boss Bill Lumbergh in Mike Judge's "Office Space" (1999) slipped under the radar, but as the box-office dud found a devoted cult audience on home video, Cole's drawled "...that'd be greeeeeat" catchphrase became one of the film's most beloved and oft-repeated memes. Slipping adeptly between comedy and drama, Cole had a banner year in 2002 with a small but compelling turn as the store manager to Robin Williams' creepy, obsessive photo developer in "One Hour Photo" (2002), a role he followed up with a broad comedic turn as Owen Wilson's can-do-no-wrong superspy rival in "I Spy" (2002). He was also cast in the Uncle Bill role (originally played by Brian Keith) in the short-lived update of the saccharine family sit-com "Family Affair" (WB 2002-03) and employed his considerable vocal talents in the title role of subversive animated comedy "Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law" (Adult Swim 2002-07). During this period, Cole also provided various voices on "Family Guy" (Fox 1999- ), played the title character's father on animated hit "Kim Possible" (Disney 2002-07), and had a recurring role as Vice President Bob Russell on "The West Wing" (NBC 1999-2006). Cole continued his comedic sneak attack on audiences with a turn in the retro-cool "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!" (2004) as Kate Bosworth's Hollywood-impressed father, and in a pitch perfect turn as an obsequious sports broadcaster in "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" (2004). Cole continued in this late-career reinvention as a comic actor, appearing in character roles in Will Ferrell's "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" (2006), stoner action comedy "Pineapple Express" (2008), animated bunny film "Hop" (2011) and Melissa McCarthy's "Tammy" (2014). However, he also maintained a steady presence in dramatic films, playing activist lawyer Bill Kunstler in hippie-era biopic "The Chicago 8" (2011), and appearing in crime drama "The Last Rites of Joe May" (2011) and horror flick "The Town That Dreaded Sundown" (2014). Throughout, he maintained his steady TV work schedule, appearing in story arcs on "Desperate Housewives" (ABC 2004-2012), "Entourage" (HBO 2004-2011), "The Good Wife" (CBS 2009-2016) and "Bob's Burgers" (Fox 2011- ). In 2013, Cole joined the cast of "Veep" (HBO 2012- ) as senior strategist Kent Davison, for which he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Emmy.
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