Thirteen(ish) actors who left a film franchise and then returned


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Who says you can’t go home again? If home is a popular movie franchise, you definitely can, as proved by the members of the following list. This is a topic we explored a few years ago here on IFC.com, but that list is already hopelessly out-of-date. With today’s release of “Underworld: Awakening” — featuring the return of Kate Beckinsale, who starred in the franchise’s first two films, then skipped 2009’s “Rise of the Lycans” — it seemed like a good time to revise, update, and expand that previous piece. Here now are a dozen(ish, one entry actually includes an entire cast) actors who moved on and then, eventually, moved back.

Sean Connery in “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971)
Directed by Guy Hamilton
Years Between Appearances: 4

Most people know Connery returned to play James Bond one last time in 1983’s “Never Say Never Again,” which came a dozen years after his previous performance as 007. But that’s not an official entry in the Eon Productions Bond series, so it doesn’t really count. Fewer people realize that Connery left the role once before, after 1967’s “You Only Live Twice,” and returned after his replacement, George Lazenby, quit following 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” Connery had claimed he was retired from Bond after “You Only Live Twice.” Then the producers threw the then-astronomical sum of $1.25 million dollars and he was like “Retired? Oh no, I said rehired.” The opening of “Diamonds Are Forever” — where Bond finds a factory producing clones of his arch-nemesis Ernst Blofeld — might have been a sly nod to the idea of the series trying to replicate his unique Bondian essence with an Australian lookalike.

Roddy McDowell in “Escape From the Planet of the Apes” (1971)
Directed by Don Taylor
Years Between Appearances: 3

McDowell was off directing his first (and last) movie, “The Devil’s Widow,” when Fox hurried “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” into production to capitalize on the rabid success of the first film. His character, the ape scientist Cornelius, remained an important part of the sequel, but McDowell was replaced in the role by David Watson — not a huge deal, since the “PotA” makeup made it hard to spot the difference anyway. One year later, McDowell not only returned to the role of Cornelius for “Escape From the Planet of the Apes,” he became the series’ headline star. Even after Cornelius was written out of the “Apes” storyline, McDowell stayed on, playing his own son in two more films.

Peter Sellers in “The Return of the Pink Panther” (1975)
Directed by Blake Edwards
Years Between Appearances: 11

Peter Sellers is so closely associated with the role of bumbling detective Inspector Clouseau, it’s hard to believe anyone else would try to play him, but Alan Arkin, of all people, did in the forgotten 1968 film “Inspector Clouseau.” At that time, Sellers was sick of Clouseau and even sicker of series director Blake Edwards. Seven years later, the studio was able to convince Edwards and Sellers to bury the hatchet and return for the sort-of appropriately titled “The Return of the Pink Panther” (the title, most people forget, refers to a diamond rather than Clouseau).


Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in “Fast & Furious” (2009)
Directed by Justin Lin
Years Between Appearances: 6 (for Walker), 8 (for Diesel)

Diesel bailed out of “2 Fast 2 Furious” to star in “xXx;” Walker moved on to other projects before “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” which essentially rebooted the franchise with an all-new cast (though Diesel made a brief and borderline nonsensical cameo right before the closing credits). Both stars came back to the quickness and madness fold with “Fast & Furious,” which was a big enough hit to give us “Fast Five” which was an even bigger box office smash. That means a “Fast Six” and possibly even a “Fast Seven” are already in the works. It’ll be interesting to see if the franchise continues long enough for Diesel and Walker leave for bigger paydays somewhere else for a second time.

Jean-Claude Van Damme in “Universal Soldier: The Return” (1999)
Directed by Mic Rodgers
Years Between Appearances: 7

JCVD was in high demand as an action hero when he made the first “Universal Soldier” in 1992. He starred in seven movies over the next four years, including “Timecop,” “Street Fighter,” and “Maximum Risk.” At that point he didn’t have the time or the inclination to appear in the two straight-to-video “Universal Soldier” sequels, “Brothers in Arms” and “Unfinished Business.” A few years later though, Van Damme was teetering on the edge of DTV oblivion himself, and he returned for “Universal Soldier” — wait for it — “The Return,” a laughably terrible movie that ignored the previous two sequels and invented a whole new, wholly silly storyline for Van Damme’s Luc Deveraux character. Another ten years later, Van Damme’s “Universal Soldier” co-star Dolph Lundgren rejoined the franchise for his first film in 17 years, “Universal Soldier: Regeneration.” JCVD starred in that one too, and “The Return” was relegated to noncanonical status as well. Look, they’re called “Universal Soldier” not “Universally Understood Soldier,” okay? Just let it go.

Heather Langenkamp in “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors” (1987) and “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” (1994)
Directed by Chuck Russell, Wes Craven
Years Between Appearances: 3, 7

Langenkamp, who played the original Final Girl in the very first “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” left and returned to Wes Craven’s signature serial on two different occasions. She was nowhere to be seen in “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2” but she starred in 1987’s “Nightmare 3: Dream Warriors,” in which her character, Nancy Thompson, worked at a psychiatric hospital helping Freddy Krueger’s newest targets learn to fight him in their dreams. Nancy (SPOILER ALERT!) died at the end of “Dream Warriors,” but Langenkamp came back to star in “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” in 1994. She played Heather Langenkamp, the actress who starred in the original “Nightmare” and is now reluctant to return to the series. It’s like a dream, but super meta.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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