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(Photo: Getty Images for AFI)

You may not know William Fichtner‘s name, but you almost certainly know his face, thanks to him regularly popping up in big name movies and wowing film fans with his cold-blooded villains or no-nonsense authority figures.

He’s now one of the new hosts of Top Gear America, which starts this Sunday (July 30) at 8/7c on BBC America, and if his tendency to steal the show is anything to go by, then co-hosts Antron Brown and Tom “Wookie” Ford had better watch out.

There you go! Now you recognize him, huh? So, to nudge your memory further, we’ve put together a list of his most memorable performances to date.

1. Prison Break (2006-2009)

When Prison Break got a reboot last year, there was one major omission: Alexander Mahone. William played the quick-witted FBI agent in charge of tracking down the group of escaped prisoners, who eventually became a sort of alter ego for Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) as they engaged in a battle of wits.

2. Armageddon (1998)

Michael Bay‘s sci-fi disaster blockbuster featured an ensemble cast of big-name actors like Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, and Liv Tyler, but William’s brilliant turn as Willie Sharp, the no-nonsense NASA Colonel who’s deeply unimpressed with the roughneck types he has to train up for space travel, still managed to punch through.

3. Heat (1995)

If there’s anyone’s bad book you don’t want to get into, it’s Robert de Niro‘s. That’s exactly what William’s character Roger van Zant did, however, in Michael Mann‘s magnificent heist drama. Needless to say, it didn’t end well.

4. Blades of Glory (2007)

William doesn’t always play the tough guy, as attested by his role in Will Ferrell‘s madcap tale of rival figure skaters. He’s only in the first ten minutes or so of the film, but manages to mine the laughs as a slightly camp and ridiculously cruel billionaire who buys a talented young orphan, only to leave him by the roadside when his figure skating career is over.

5. Pearl Harbor (2001)

The film may not have been brilliantly received, but William’s performance still made us sit up and notice. He plays the conflicted father of a young boy who grows up to be Josh Hartnett.

6. Drive Angry (2011)

William plays The Accountant, Satan’s arrogant assistant sent to drag John Milton (Nicolas Cage) back to Hell in this weird fantasy action movie by horror filmmaker Patrick Lussier. Hell’s second-in-command made such an impression on audiences that i09 named his character”the real star of the show.”

7. Invasion (2005 – 2006)

William starred as Sheriff Tom Underlay in this series about an alien invasion in the aftermath of a hurricane, though there was far more to his character than the law-enforcement official he appeared to be. After just one season, ABC made the surprise move to cancel Invasion, and a fan campaign to overturn the decision did not succeed.

(Image: Warner Bros. Television)
(Image: Warner Bros. Television)

8. Crash (2004)

A side-effect of appearing in a film alongside Matt Dillon, Sandra Bullock, and Ludacris is a very brief appearance in the trailer, but if you keep your eyes peeled, you’ll spot William. In the film as a whole, however, his role of Flanagan punched far above its weight, and his brief exchange with the LAPD detective played by Don Cheadle was a masterclass in smooth, concise viciousness.

9. Go (1999)

William once again steals the show in this crime comedy from Swingers director Doug Liman. Let’s just say, you should definitely think twice before accepting a dinner invitation from his character Burke, a weirdly intense police detective with a hidden agenda.

10. The Dark Knight (2008)

The tense opening sequence of Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight is one of the best in the film, setting both its dark tone and introducing Heath Ledger‘s Joker. At its center, too, is William’s character, who shows he’s one bank manager it’d be a very bad idea to mess with.

Are you excited to see William in presenter mode on Top Gear America?  

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Filed Under: William Fichtner
By Kat Sommers
Kat is a freelance writer for Anglophenia.