Stephen Tobolowsky is an incredibly prolific character actor, but he is first and foremost known for playing Ned Ryerson, the annoying insurance salesmen in Groundhog Day who pesters Phil (Bill Murray) as he walks through Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (and continues to do so, as Phil repeats the day over and over — you know, it’s Groundhog Day). It’s a small part, but Tobolowsky plays it with so much gusto that it remains memorable more than 20 years later.
Last night on Silicon Valley, in which Tobolowsky plays former Pied Piper CEO Jack Barker, the show offered what was seemingly a subtle nod to the classic character when Jack runs into recently fired Hooli CEO Gavin Belson at the airfield:
Remind you of anything?
Now, as you can see in the Groundhog Day clip (or this full Ned supercut), Ned never says the exact phrase, “Phil? Is that you?” What he does do, though, is say variations on “Phil? I thought that was you.”
The similarity extends to Tobolowsky’s performance in the scene. Though Jack is a more intense guy than Ned, there is an uncharacteristic warmth here, as Jack literally opens his arms wide to Gavin.
And if you need more evidence, Jack and Ned both opt to carry their briefcases with their left hands. That can't be a coincidence!