If George Clooney had only acted in the movies Out of Sight, Three Kings, and O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), he would still have made a seismic impact on film, at least in my estimation. He was plagued for years trying to establish a career for himself, before finally breaking through wit the TV series ER, but his early transition into movies was a difficult one. He encountered the same problem he'd always faced, and that's that being an actor who so closely matched the same appeal predecessors like Cary Grant first brought to the public meant that he was only going to seem like a throwback. But Clooney soon forced even his skeptics to accept that rather than being a detriment to his career, this strange appeal could be seen as a strength (even if sometimes his efforts to replicate some of the old experiences in film came back with the same lukewarm reception he knew so well), especially the older he got. O Brother is a testament to Clooney learning that lesson quickly. The Coen Brothers (I'm desperately deficient in their canon, having even missed Fargo, though I've since enjoyed No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading, and their version of True Grit) reinterpret The Odyssey as a Southern-fried sojourn, with a celebrated soundtrack and Clooney's first performance where he truly understands his own potential. "Man of constant sorrow" no more, this clever Odysseus has since become an institution. Please remind yourself how he did it.
Star Trek bonus!
O is for O'Brien, Miles
(from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Debuting in the very first episode of Next Generation, O'Brien took a long time to get a name, but actor Colm Meaney was so beloved that he became a regular and acclaimed commodity in film (just not in any Star Trek films, strangely or not), and eventually a lead actor in Deep Space Nine, where Lets-Torture-O'Brien episodes became an artform, beginning with the unlikely bond that formed between the stalwart engineer and obnoxious doctor Julian Bashir. Anyone who doesn't love O'Brien shouldn't be reading any of this, so I won't try to talk too much about him.