From The Shawshank Redemption to Dexter, the many, many roles of Clancy Brown
Do you recognize this character actor with the bottomless voice? You should, because the great Clancy Brown has been in practically everything. We asked the 62-year-old actor, who stars in Dexter: New Blood (premiering Nov. 7 on Showtime), to look back at his lifetime of work in film, TV, and animation. "It's always interesting, this business," he tells EW. "You always learn something new. When you figure out how to do it just right, it's quite fun."
Bad Boys (1983)
Brown played Viking Lofgren, an inmate at a boys reform school who targets Sean Penn's Mick O'Brien. "I think they had cast a young man before me who was a devout Christian. His parents didn't like the jail rape that was going on in the movie. My character stood guard while Tweety, my fellow jail boss, (played by Robert Lee Rush, right of Brown in this photo), did the deed."
The Dukes of Hazzard (1983)
"I had just moved out to Los Angeles and said to myself, 'I'm not going to do silly shows like that.' I kind of thought better of it. I wonder who I thought I was at the time. So I decided to go do it. And thank goodness. There was an actor [on it] named Jeffrey Josephson, who was thug No. 1, so I played thug No. 2. He really knew the show. He knew what to do. I followed him around like a puppy dog. I was also very excited to work with Jim Best (who played Sheriff Roscoe Coltrane), who was not as excited to work with me."
Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation (1992)
"I was a gas station attendant. That was the directorial debut of my college pal Roland Mesa. He said to me, 'Come and do this.' I said, 'Okay, but I don't want to get credited. Just put me as Clarence.' He did that. The guy I'm with in the movie, who was an assistant named Joe, was my old roommate from college. So it was just the three of us goofing around, eating pork rinds and putting on funny accents. I did get to meet Morton Downey Jr. (who played the university president), which was kind of cool."
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Brown played Captain Hadley, a barbarous prison guard who ends up protecting Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins). "Shawshank was a script that made its way around Hollywood that everybody was falling in love with. [Casting director] Deborah Aquila thought of me, and I'll always thank her for doing that. But it was one of the worst auditions I've ever had. I learned all the horrible speeches I had to give, with a string of profanities and everything. I was going for the audition to say these things to Deb, who's tiny and dressed in a floral print blouse and smells nice. I just couldn't call her a f---stick or any of those other horrible things. I left there convinced that I had just blown an audition for one of the best scripts I had ever read."
Voicing the roles of Wolf, Hakon, and Tomas Brod for the syndicated animated series was one of many, many animated projects Brown has done over his decades in Hollywood. "I had just gotten married, and pretty soon after that my wife got pregnant, so I wanted to stick around home. I'd always loved animation, but my agents at the time didn't have a voiceover division. Luckily at the time, Walt Disney TV Animation decided they were going to go outside the box of actors they had in their stable and try to do a little stunt casting. They decided to do that for Gargoyles. A lot of us came into the business at that time. As soon as I was in that booth with some of those people, who were so wildly talented behind the mic, I went to the people at Disney and I said, 'Look, just cast me in anything — just cast me in the smallest thing with these guys. I just have such a good time being in this room.' And so they did. I loved everything about it. It was all brand-new."
SpongeBob SquarePants (1999-2021)
He was Mr. Krabs! "The casting director called me in for this weird thing that [creator] Stephen Hillenburg was doing, so I sat in the room with Steve and did it. All we knew was that Tom Kenny was going to be SpongeBob, and it was between me and another actor. And that actor ended up being the guy that sings the theme song, so he gets way more residuals than I get because he's in every episode. Steve was not sure I was the right guy, but he took a chance and I love him for it."
Starship Troopers (1997)
Brown played Sgt. Zim in the unsung action movie from Paul Verhoeven. "The criticism of that book has always been it's a very fascist view. And for Verhoeven to do it, having lived under a fascist regime when he was a kid, I thought was kind of brilliant. There were some things that didn't work out too well. We didn't have the degree of CG they have now. If we had, it would have been spectacular. And there were some things they couldn't translate from the book. But I thought it was a pretty good take."
"It was the time on ER when people were leaving and they might've been looking around for people to take over the show," says Brown, who was cast for one season as Dr. Ellis West. "I certainly wasn't going to be one of them. I could just not say all the medical stuff fast enough. I had a crush on Laura Innes from college. She was a senior when I was a junior. So when they came and said, 'You're gonna get this offer to play Laura's boyfriend, I said, 'I'll do it!'"
The Crown (2019)
Brown showed up in season 3 of the Netflix drama as President Lyndon B. Johnson in a scene with Helena Bonham Carter (Princess Margaret). "That was kind of a fluke. I was doing Billions at the time, and my agent, who is English, said, 'Would you do an episode of The Crown if I could secure it?' They don't hire American actors so far down the list as [I am]. I got to work with Helena Bonham Carter, and I had a crush on her entire career. I was a little kid when LBJ was president. He was fun to play. The Crown doesn't really tell American history — they tell a sort of idealized English history. So it was nice that Princess Margaret came over and saved the world by charming LBJ."
Promising Young Woman (2020)
"I got that script and I could not put it down," says Brown, who played the father of Cassandra (Carey Mulligan), who avenges her best friend who was raped. "And at the end I was so mad. I was just so pissed off at the world that made that happen, even though it's entirely Emerald Fennell's imagination. She just hit a note in all of us. It was another one of those scripts where they said, 'We have no money. What do you think?'"
Dexter: New Blood (2021)
Brown plays Kurt Caldwell, the beloved unofficial mayor of Dexter's adopted hometown in Iron Lake. He's also the father of a local punk named Matt who brings out the worst in Dexter (Michael C. Hall). Does that mean dear old dad might end up being just as bad as his boy? Brown isn't spilling… for now. "We will get an explanation of why he does what he does, which is kind of interesting," teases Dexter creator Clyde Phillips. "It's an explanation where you go, 'Okay…' It's not a reason. It's never a good reason." Dexter: New Blood premieres Nov. 7 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.