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Jake McDormand’s Greatest Sci-fi/Genre Roles Outside of Mrs. Davis

Mrs. Davis star Jack McDormand always brings it no matter what role he's in. 

By Brian Silliman
Jake McDorman as Wiley in Mrs. Davis Season 1 Episode 7

Who wouldn’t want a motorcycling, mustached bro-down in the middle of a show where a nun fights an awful AI? Worry not, the hit series Mrs. Davis (now streaming on Peacock) has anticipated this desire, and it has placed the prolific Jake McDormand in the role of Wiley. He’s front and center, helping to lead the rebellion, and his scenes with Betty Gilpin (Mrs. Davis) are always loaded.

If McDormand looks familiar to you, it may be because he has plenty of acting credits to his name. His work isn’t confined to science fiction and genre, but he does appear in such projects often. In continuing celebration of the madness that is Mrs. Davis, we’re running down our favorite roles performed by the talented Mr. McDormand.

Limitless (Brian Finch)

One of McDormand’s biggest showcases was in this 2015-2016 CBS series. It was a spin-off from the Bradley Cooper movie of the same name. A mysterious drug gives Brian (McDormand) the chance to unlock the full potential of his mind, and Cooper’s character from the movie is on hand to guide him. Running for 22 episodes, the series also featured Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, as well as Ron Rifkin and Colin Salmon in recurring roles.

RELATED: Margo Martindale’s Greatest Sci-fi/Genre Roles Outside of Mrs. Davis

Response to the series was mixed, but the response to McDormand was not. He was a natural stand-in for Cooper, we liked him, and we were very interested in where his journey could have gone. He was able to make Brian’s shifting back and forth between different areas of the show believable. He would have taken the series to some incredible places, but CBS canned the whole thing after one season. They didn’t see limitless money there.

What We Do in the Shadows (Jeff Suckler)

He only appears in three episodes in Season 1 (and one episode in Season 2), but McDormand makes an impression. That’s not an easy thing to do in this series because every single person on the screen (and behind the screen) is a genius.

Technically, he played the role of “Jeff.” In reality, he was the reincarnation of Gregor, a former lover of Nadja (Natasia Demetriou). Her influence leads Jeff to a mental breakdown, but eventually he discovers his true self. McDormand is hilarious, but also touching, which is the key to the entire series. He demonstrates it perfectly.

With a passion for farewell topiaries and getting beheaded, Jeff/Gregor was a fun addition. There could always be a way for him to return to the series.

Watchmen (Nelson Gardner)

McDormand was only in one episode of this landmark miniseries. Why do we mention it? For one thing, every episode of this 2019 miracle show is special. For another, the episode that he appeared in was “This Extraordinary Being.” It’s the installment where Angela (Regina King) gets the true history of Hooded Justice.

Nelson Gardner, aka Captain Metropolis, was an integral part of the Hooded Justice story. They were lovers, but Nelson also refuses to help at a critical point. He is all about hiding true identity and being careful about when to become involved, and McDormand plays it all perfectly. It is a heartbreaking addition to the already heartbreaking history of Hooded Justice.

RELATED: “Yes, Tyler Durden Inspired Wiley’s Look in Mrs. Davis”

Live Free or Die Hard (Jim)

Dad’s not dead. McDormand has the honor of kicking off this 2007 Die Hard sequel by groping Lucy McClane (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in a car. Bad move, Jim. John McClane (Bruce Willis) is on the scene right quick, and he’s taken on both Hans Gruber and Ellis. Pathetic frat-rapist Jim is toast.

There’s not much to it, but Jim is another character in the Die Hard series who cannot possibly die soon enough. He’s not at the Ellis level (no one is), but it’s a tradition in this series. He helps to illustrate the John/Lucy dynamic, which will be important for the rest of the movie. McDormand plays “snot-nosed MRA trash bag” quite well.

Aquamarine (Raymond)

In 2006, McDormand showed off his magical romcom skills. Emma Roberts finds a mermaid in a beach club pool (happens to her all the time) and McDormand falls in love. The romance between Aquamarine (the mermaid, played by Sara Paxton) and Raymond is not the point of the movie, but it’s nice.

Raymond could have been just another brainless, pretty-boy lifeguard who was rejected from both Baywatch and Temptation Island. That’s the role, but McDormand gave it some personality. We’d normally despise a character like this, but we liked him as played by McDormand. That’s huge. Huge! He helped Aquamarine be where the people are. 

Bring It on: All or Nothing (Brad Warner)

We felt it necessary to remind everyone that he was in this. It’s not science fiction or genre. It was straight-to-video. McDormand lives and laughs alongside Hayden Panettiere. If Mrs. Davis fans are brutally honest with themselves, then this could be what they are remembering McDormand from.

Admit it, and this will all be over.

Jake McDormand brings it on every week on Mrs. Davis, which streams new episodes on Peacock every Thursday.