Checking In…with the Recurring Characters of Arrested Development

You’re probably all sick of this by now, but what the heck? ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT IS (probably) COMING BACK. YAYYY. Almost nothing is known about the plot, when it will shoot, how it will be released, or even who’s involved, but as long as they don’t bring back Rita, I think we’re in for a mighty fine fourth season/movie. (Uncle Trevor can come back, though.)

One of the greatest things about AD (and there are many) was the show’s wide array of recurring characters, second only to The Simpsons in my mind. There’s, of course, Gene Parmesan, Ted, Office Taylor, Sally Sitwell, Larry Middleman, Lucille Austero…the list goes on and on. Below I’ve picked ten of my favorite returning characters, and what the actors and actresses who played them are up to.

Mo Collins, as Starla

“Bluth Homes— Solid as a Rock.”

After six seasons on MADtv, Mo Collins went on to do voice work for King of the Hill, Invader Zim, and Family Guy, and appear on Pushing Daisies, Curb Your Enthusiasm (she had a big vagina), Men of a Certain Age, Modern Family, and Parks and Recreation, where she plays Pawnee Today host Joan Callamezzo. She has a busy schedule for this year and next; she will show up in everything from an episode of Suburgatory to the films And They’re Off (pro: stars Kevin Nealon and Martin Mull; con: it’s about a horse) and Big Guns. She will also appear in the TV series Waffle Hut, alongside fellow Arrested-alumni Sam Pancake (James Spangler).

Judy Greer, as Kitty Sanchez

“And say goodbye to these!”

Love of my life Judy Greer should be the biggest star in the world, because she’s hilarious in everything she’s ever appeared in — even when that “everything” includes Two and a Half Men, which she’s now on, playing Ashton Kutcher’s soon-to-be ex-wife. Hey, at least she’s getting a paycheck, I remind myself hourly. On the plus side, Greer voices Cheryl on Archer (my favorite character) and Wendy Park on Nick at Nite’s Glenn Martin DDS. Next year, Greer will star in Playing the Field, a film about a Gerard Butler-type played by Gerard Butler looking to score with the moms of his son’s soccer league teammates.

John Michael Higgins, as Wayne Jarvis

“I shall hide behind that couch.”

John Michael Higgins is a true professional, not unlike Wayne Jarvis. Since 2006, Higgins has had roles in Evan Almighty, For Your Consideration (he’s a favorite of Christopher Guest), and Bad Teacher. He’s also appeared on Community (as Professor Whitman), Glee, Kath & Kim (as Molly Shannon’s boyfriend, Phil), and Happily Divorced (as Fran Drescher’s gay husband), and done voiceover work for Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law (Mentok the Mindtaker, Zardo, etc.). Higgins can next be seen in Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo.

William Hung, as William Hung


Mr. William Hung was the American Idol contestant who sang Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” in 2004, and because of that just slightly off-key performance, he became a 15 minute phenomenon. And yet, he tried to stretch out his fame for THREE albums: 2004’s Inspiration (which actually hit #1 on Billboard Independent Album chart — it came out the same day as Modest Mouse’s Good News for People Who Love Bad News) and Hung for the Holidays (which was released in the festive month of October, and the same day as Elliot Smith’s From a Basement on the Hill), and 2005’s Miracle: Happy Summer from William Hung. He’s probably made more money than you or I ever will.

Justin Lee, as Annyong Bluth


I’ve seen 10 Things I Hate About You more times than I’d like to admit (Julia Stiles circa 1999 <3 Josh 4EVA), and I have no memory of any character named Charlie “The Perv” Woo ever appearing in the film. And yet, he was in ABC Family’s 10 Things TV series, which was canceled after one season in 2009-2010. Yeah, yeah, reimagining and all that, but still. That’s probably why it was canceled. ANYWAYS. Justin Lee, who played The Perv, was also in the “Killer Carl” episode of Shameless, where he played an “Asian Jew,” a.k.a. a Korean who doesn’t want to pay for a service someone did for him.

David Reynolds, as White Power Bill

“I HATE White Power Bill.” /kills himself

In 2001, David Reynolds played a prisoner, much like White Power Bill, in the late great That’s My Bush! But Reynolds mostly appears in low-budget comedy horror films, which means his IMDb is filled with movie titles like Special Dead (as Ismail “Snail” Ziegler), The Naked Ape (Tow-Truck Driver), Legend of the Sandsquatch (Bill), Porntourage (Breast Craven), Zombie Drugs (Big Al), and Santa Preys for X-mas, where he played Saint Nick himself. Reynolds was also in “The Train Job” episode of Firefly.

Steve Ryan, as J. Walter Weatherman

“…And that’s why you always leave a note.”

J. Walter was maybe my favorite recurring character on Arrested, and his “…and that’s why you always…” is definitely the line I quote most often (see above). The one-armed man behind the joke was played by Steve Ryan, who had several recurring roles on TV, including Father Conti on American Dreams, Det. Nate Grossman on Crime Story, and Secretary of Defense Miles Hutchinson on The West Wing. He was also a celebrated theatre actor, appearing in I’m Not Rappaport and Guys and Dolls. Sadly, Ryan passed away in 2007.

Leonor Varela and Patricia Velásquez, as Marta 1 and Marta 2

“What is wrong with you? I thought you were good people. I thought you were noble. I thought you care about family, but you clearly don’t. It’s over.”

Leonor Varela played the original (and better) object of Michael, Gob, and Buster’s affections, and she has since appeared on Human Target and in Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach, the Sean William Scott- and Randy Quaid-starring direct-to-DVD comedy that stole America’s heart (and balls) back in 2009. She will next star in a remake of Dallas, playing a character named Marta (woah). Marta #2, played by Patricia Velásquez, appeared in five episodes of The L Word in 2008 as Begoña. She is also a fashion model, founder of the Wayúu Tayá Foundation (a non-profit that helps improve the lives of Latin-American indigenous communities), and was once in a relationship with Sandra Bernhard. Before all that, she was Anak-Su-Namun, the secret lover of Imhotep who tries to kill Rachel Weisz, in The Mummy, a movie I’m probably seen as many times as 10 Things I Hate About You. (There is a third Marta, but she only appears in a picture and the actress is uncredited.)

Justin Grant Wade, as Steve Holt!

“If you’re wondering why there are two sets of footprints in the sand, that’s because this is my second take.”

How many times a day do you think Justin Grant Wade hears his character’s name, followed by a verbal exclamation point, shouted out loud at him? Five? If I were his neighbor, I’d do it every day. Arrested was his first TV role, and he’s gone on to do two shorts (2006’s Con: The Corruption of Shawn Helm and 2008’s Jasper) and appear in four episodes of Greek from 2008-2009, as a character named…Steve. He’s a bastard.

Mae Whitman, as Ann Veal

“It sounds like your father just gave us permission to start doing it. You must teach me, George-Michael. You must teach me the ways of the secular flesh.”

In a casting choice that made literally DOZENS of fanboys (and -girls) squeal with nerdy delight, Mae Whitman played one of Ramona Flowers’ former lovers, who Scott Pilgrim had to beat in order to win her heart — and some coins — in Scott Pilgrim vs. the the World. The titular world-saver was, of course, played by Michael Cera. Aw. Whitman also plays Lauren Graham’s daughter on Parenthood (not Rory), and voiced the totally awesome Katara on Avatar: The Last Airbender…not the %$*#ing movie. She’s the current voice of Tinker Bell (game idea: every time your son or daughter mentions Tink, reply back with, “Her?”) and will play Charlie’s first girlfriend in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, set to be released in 2012. Two more related fun facts: Whitman was President Bill Pullman’s daughter in Independence Day (!) and Heartthrob George Clooney’s daughter in One Fine Day (!!). Man did that movie suck. (The original Ann, who appears only in “Let ‘Em Eat Cake,” was portrayed by Alessandra Torresani, better known as Zoe Graystone from Caprica.)

Josh Kurp isn’t sure where Franklin is these days, and apologizes for the tease.

Checking In…with the Recurring Characters of […]