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The Early Acting Careers of Walking Dead Stars

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Gene Page/AMC

As Season Four marches on, let's look back at the early careers of some past and present cast members...before walkers roamed the Earth. Note: Spoilers!!

Melissa McBride


Frank Ockenfels/AMC

The actress who plays Carol Peletier sported the same close-cropped hairdo in The Mist, a 2007 Frank Darabont-directed film, and the style has become something of her trademark. McBride semi-retired from acting for a time, working as a casting director from 2000 until Darabont pegged her for the role of the abused housewife who eventually loses her daughter to walkers. But Melissa had a full head of long corkscrew curls when she played a doctor in the classic (to Conan O’Brien fans, anyway) “Lucas” episode of Walker, Texas Ranger back in 1997.

Andrew Lincoln


Frank Ockenfels/AMC

Fans are often surprised when they first hear the man who plays Rick Grimes speak in interviews, as his natural accent is more Oxford and Cambridge than Atlanta Cracker Barrel. When he first got into acting, Andrew Clutterbuck’s agent decided that his real surname (albeit a well-respected one in the U.K.) sounded a bit too Hobbit-esque for U.S. marquees, and he became Andrew Lincoln. His earliest acting roles were in his native England, as seen here in the 2000 crime drama Gangster Number One. Recognize the long-haired wild-eyed henchman in the camel coat?

Norman Reedus


Frank Ockenfels/AMC

Playing crossbow-wielding tough guy Daryl Dixon wasn’t too much of a stretch for Norman Reedus, whose breakout film role was as Murphy McManus in 1999’s The Boondock Saints. As Murphy, Reedus whacked creeps and lowlifes left and right with a variety of weapons. He’s appeared in a long list of indie films, most times in dark, brooding roles (even as Judas in the Lady Gaga video he was pretty menacing). But he’s never afraid to stretch his acting wings and wander in offbeat career directions…see if you can spot him in Bjork’s 1993 music video for her club hit “Violently Happy.”

Sarah Wayne Callies

Matthew Welch/AMC

Whether you wept or callously cheered when Lori Grimes died during an emergency C-section and then was shot by her own son, one universal thought that fans had about the character was surely “Geez, eat a sandwich!” Even in the flashback scenes, before their group was starving and about to eat dog food, Lori looked like a zipper when she stuck her tongue out. I only mention her bony body because it apparently is not her natural physique. She definitely was a little fleshier back in 2003 when she co-starred on WB’s Tarzan.

Jeffrey DeMunn

Matthew Welch/AMC

The Hollywood grapevine has intimated that Dale was not long for the Walking Dead world when showrunner Frank Darabont departed the series. DeMunn has had a long working relationship with Darabont and was allegedly very vocal on-set about the producer’s ouster. Here is DeMunn as he looked in 1994’s The Shawshank Redemption. The voice and the Eyebrows of Judgment are still highly recognizeable.

Laurie Holden

Frank Ockenfels/AMC

Andrea is an amazing survivor—she managed to stay alive for seven months with the help of Michonne and still find time to touch up her roots. Laurie Holden started acting at a very young age; her first role was at the tender age of six when she was cast as Rock Hudson’s daughter in the 1980 TV mini-series The Martian Chronicles (photo courtesy of TVRage).

Steven Yeun

Frank Ockenfels/AMC

Steven Yeun’s acting roots are actually in comedy, rather than sci-fi; Big Bang Theory fans probably remember seeing him in the flashback episode when Leonard first met Sheldon. After earning a theater degree from Michigan’s Kalamazoo College, he moved to Chicago where he performed with Second City and the Korean improv comedy troupe known as Stir-Friday Night. And while as Glenn Yeun struggles with basic chords on the guitar Dale found for him, in real life he’s an accomplished musician, as can be seen in this Stir-Friday Night “Auction Date” sketch he filmed back in 2006.

Scott Wilson

Frank Ockenfels/AMC

Of all the main characters, Hershel’s accent should probably ring the truest, since actor Scott Wilson was born and raised in Georgia. He hitchhiked to Los Angeles at the age of 19 to try his hand at an acting career and landed his first film role six years later as a murder suspect in In the Heat of the Night. That same year (1967) he was cast as one of the leads in In Cold Blood, which landed him on the cover of LIFE Magazine, along with his co-star Robert Blake.

Michael Rooker

Frank Ockenfels/AMC

In the “knock me over with a feather” category, we learn that Daryl’s psycho, abusive older brother, Merle (as played by Michael Rooker), not only once had a head full of curly hair, he also portrayed a conscience-free murderer in his first film role, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

This post originally appeared before Season Three.

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Art
Get Crazy With the Official Bob Ross Coloring Book
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If you watched Bob Ross's classic series The Joy of Painting for hours on end but didn’t come away a terribly capable artist, you can still enjoy replicating the amazing public television personality’s work. You can now pretend you’re painting along with the late, great PBS star using a brand-new adult coloring book based on his art.

The Bob Ross Coloring Book (Universe) is the first authorized coloring book based on Ross’s artistic archive. Ross, who would have turned 75 later this year, was all about giving his fans the confidence to pursue art even without extensive training. “There’s an artist hidden at the bottom of every single one of us,” the gentle genius said. So what better way to honor his memory than to relax with his coloring book?

Here’s a sneak peek of some of the Ross landscapes you can recreate, all while flipping through some of his best quotes and timeless tidbits of wisdom.

An black-and-white outline of a Bob ross painting of a mountain valley

A black-and-white outline of a Bob Ross painting shows a house nestled among trees.

A black-and-white outline of a Bob Ross painting shows a farm scene.

And remember, even if you color outside the lines, it’s still a work of art. As Ross said, “We don’t make mistakes. We just have happy accidents.”

You can find The Bob Ross Coloring Book for about $14 on Amazon. Oh, and if you need even more Ross in your life, there’s now a Bob Ross wall calendar, too.

All images courtesy of Rizzoli.

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entertainment
8 Movies That Almost Starred Keanu Reeves
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Kevin Winter/Getty Images

He may not have the natural ease of Al Pacino, the classical training of Anthony Hopkins, the timeless cool of Jack Nicholson, or the raw versatility of Gary Oldman, but Keanu Reeves has been around long enough to have worked alongside each of those actors. Yet instead of Oscar nods, the actor whose first name means “cool breeze over the mountains” in Hawaiian has a handful of Razzie nominations.

While critical acclaim has mostly eluded Reeves during his 30-plus years in Hollywood, his movies have made nearly $2 billion at the box office. Whether because of his own choosiness or the decisions of studio powers-that-be, that tally could be much, much higher. To celebrate The Chosen One’s 53rd birthday, here are eight movies that almost starred Keanu Reeves.

1. X-MEN (2000)

In Hollywood’s version of the X-Men universe, Hugh Jackman is the definitive Wolverine. But Jackman himself was a last-minute replacement (for Dougray Scott) and other, bigger (in 2000) names were considered for the hirsute superhero—including Reeves. Ultimately, it was the studio that decided to go in a different direction, much to Reeves’ disappointment. “I always wanted to play Wolverine,” the actor told Moviefone in 2014. “But I didn't get that. And they have a great Wolverine now. I always wanted to play The Dark Knight. But I didn't get that one. They've had some great Batmans. So now I'm just enjoying them as an audience.”

2. PLATOON (1986)

For an action star, Reeves isn’t a huge fan of violence, which is why he passed on playing the lead in Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winning Vietnam classic. “Keanu turned it down because of the violence,” Stone told Entertainment Weekly in 2011. “He didn’t want to do violence.”

3. THE FLY II (1989)

Few people would likely mistake Reeves for the son of Jeff Goldblum, but producers were anxious to see him play the next generation of Goldblum’s insectile role in the sequel to The Fly. But Reeves wasn’t having any of it. Why? Simple: “I didn't like the script,” he told Movieline in 1990.

4. SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL (1997)

Speaking of sequels (and bad scripts): Reeves was ready to reprise his role as Jack Traven in Jan de Bont’s second go at the series … then he read it. “When I was offered Speed 2, Jan came to Chicago and so did Sandra, and they said, ‘You’ve got to do this,’” Reeves recalled to The Telegraph. “And I said, 'I read the script and I can’t. It’s called Speed, and it’s on a cruise ship.” (He's got a point.)

Even when the studio dangled a $12 million paycheck in front of him, Reeves said no. “I told [William Mechanic, then-head of Fox], ‘If I do this film, I will not come back up. You guys will send me to the bottom of the ocean and I will not make it back up again.’ I really felt like I was fighting for my life.”

5. HEAT (1995)

Reeves’ refusal to cave on Speed 2 didn’t sit well in Hollywood circles. And it didn't help that he also passed on playing Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer’s role) in Michael Mann’s Heat in order to spend a month playing Hamlet at Canada’s Manitoba Theatre Centre. From that point on, Reeves told The Telegraph that it’s been a struggle for him to book any studio movies. “That’s a good old Hollywood story! That was a whole, 'Hey, kid, this is what happens in Hollywood: I said no to the number two and I never worked with the studio again!’”

6. BOWFINGER (1999)

By the time Frank Oz’s Bowfinger rolled around, Eddie Murphy was pretty much the go-to guy for any dual role part, but the movie wasn’t always intended to play that way. Steve Martin, who both starred in and wrote the movie, had actually penned the part of Kit Ramsey for Reeves (whom he had worked with a decade earlier in Parenthood).

“When Steve gave me the script for Bowfinger, it wasn't written for Eddie Murphy,” producer Brian Grazer explained. “It was written for a white action star. It was written for Keanu Reeves, literally. I said, 'Why does it have to be an action star?' He said, 'That's the joke.' I said: 'What if it were Eddie Murphy, and Eddie Murphy played two characters? That could be really funny.' He said: 'You know, that'd be great—that'd be brilliant. Let's do that.' He processed it in about a minute, and he made a creative sea change.”

7. WATCHMEN (2009)

A year before Zack Snyder’s Watchmen hit theaters, Reeves confirmed to MTV what many had speculated: that he had turned down the chance to play Dr. Manhattan in the highly anticipated adaptation. But it wasn’t because of lack of interest on Reeves’ part; it just “didn't work out.” Still, he made it as far as a set visit: “They were shooting in Vancouver while we were filming so I went over to the set to say, 'hi.' They showed me some stuff and it looks amazing! I can’t wait. It’s going to be so killer, man!”

8. TROPIC THUNDER (2008)

By the time Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder made its way into theaters in the summer of 2008, the meta-comedy had been more than a decade in the making. So it’s understandable that the final product veered from Stiller’s original plan for the film, which included Reeves playing the role of Tugg Speedman (Stiller’s eventual part). Initially, Stiller had planned to cast himself as smarmy agent Rick Peck (Matthew McConaughey picked up the slack).

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