If you’ve never watched 24, you may not be familiar with the name Gregory Itzin, but aside from Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds, I consider him to be my favourite villain of the past decade. Itzin was a longtime character actor/bit player who got the role of a lifetime when he was cast as U.S. President Charles Logan on 24, a leader so corrupt and incompetent that he actually made viewers that having Bush in the White House didn’t seem all that bad in comparison. He wound up earning two Emmy nominations for the role and played the character so wonderfully that 24 fans just loved to hate the guy. Thus far, I think his utterly terrified delivery of the line “THAT’S JACK BAUER!!” is probably my favourite moment in any film or TV show in 2010.
Anyway, Gregory Itzin has definitely come a long way, as his film debut was a “blink and you’ll miss it” role in the classic scene from Airplane! where Rex Kramer storms into the airport and beats up a bunch of religious zealots. You’ll spot him very briefly as the one in the red sweater. As a bonus, here’s a clip of Gregory Itzin playing an early version of Charles Logan in this commercial from the mid-90s, appearing as a dumb politician who commits career suicide by saying he doesn’t like cheese, and prompts Bob Dole to call him a doofus!