For any actor, snagging a role in a hit series is worth celebrating. Now imagine starring in two big series at the same time. Talk about hitting the jackpot! Believe it or not, it’s not as uncommon as you might think. In some cases, the series and roles have been similar. In others, the actors do a complete 180 from comedy to drama, or from bad guy to good. In any case, it’s an interesting phenomenon when it does happen.
Here are 10 actors who have done, or are still doing, double duty on two hit series.
Allison Janney (Masters of Sex, Mom)
In CBS sitcom Mom, Janney stars as Bonnie Plunkett, a recovering drug and alcohol addict navigating a relationship with her daughter (Anna Faris) with similar issues. During the first two years playing that role (2013-2015), Janney also had a very different recurring role on the Showtime period drama Masters of Sex. There, she played Margaret Scully, a sexually-repressed woman in the ‘50s who discovers that her husband (Beau Bridges) is actually gay.
Margo Martindale (Sneaky Pete, Bojack Horseman, The Americans)
Martindale not only plays two lead roles at once, but also voices herself on a third in Netflix animated series Bojack Horseman. In live-action Soviet-sleeper drama The Americans, she has been playing recurring cast member Claudia, a KGB handler for the leading spy couple, since 2013. In 2015, Martindale snagged the role of grandmother Audrey, the fierce head of the family bond business in Amazon original series Sneaky Pete.
Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Oz)
Playing both sides of the law? From 1998-2003, Meloni brilliantly tackled the role of prisoner and Aryan Brotherhood member Chris Keller on HBO’s Oz, who was locked up for crimes ranging from robbery to felony murder. Ironically, for almost that entire time (1999-2011), the actor also starred in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC) as Detective Elliot Stabler, who detests the awful criminals he must investigate.
Matt McGorry (How to Get Away With Murder, Orange is the New Black)
In ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder, McGorry plays Asher, the rich kid who constantly annoys his fellow law students with juvenile, frat-boy antics. Overlapping with the first few seasons of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, his prison guard and former Army corporal character John Bennett was best known for his relationship with inmate Dayanara Diaz.
Alison Brie (Community, Mad Men)
While many know Brie best as Annie Edison, the overachieving, naive young student on Community (NBC) from 2009-2015, she did double duty as Trudy, the bossy (and sometimes naive) wife of Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), on AMC’s Mad Men. Brie scores extra points for also having voiced the character of Diane Nguyen on Bojack Horseman from 2014-2017.
Steven Ogg (Westworld, The Walking Dead)
While he’s made quite an impression on The Walking Dead as Simon, the right hand man of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Ogg is perhaps best known as the voice and motion capture artist for Trevor Philips in video game Grand Theft Auto V. But during TWD’s season 7, he also had a minor role on HBO’s Westworld as another villain, Rebus.
Kim Dickens (Fear the Walking Dead, House of Cards)
In 2015 and 2016, Dickens appeared in eight episodes of Netflix’s House of Cards as curious reporter Kate Baldwin. Also in 2015, she snagged the lead role of mother and high school guidance counsellor Madison Clark in The Walking Dead spin-off, Fear the Walking Dead (AMC). There’s a chance Kate might re-appear in House of Cards’ upcoming fifth season (May 30), and Madison will continue to fight the zombies once the spinoff returns June 4.
Pamela Adlon (Louie, Californication)
In addition to voicing several characters on Bob’s Burgers from 2012-2016, the veteran voice and live-action actor also starred as Pamela, Louis CK’s love interest on Louie from 2010-2015. In addition, she played Marcy, the wild and crazy wife of Charlie Runkle (Evan Handler), on Showtime’s Californication, which ran from 2007-2014.
Ted Danson (CSI: Cyber, Bored to Death; Fargo, CSI, and more)
Given Ted Danson’s ability to seemingly make any series he joins better, it’s no surprise he has several sets of simultaneous TV acting gigs on his resume. He starred as George Christopher in HBO’s Bored to Death in 2011 at the same time he took the helm in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation as DB Russell. In 2015, he was cast in Fargo while also playing Russell in CSI: Cyber. And in the early 2000s he played lead character Dr. John Becker in CBS’ Becker (1998-2004) alongside some very memorable appearances as an exaggerated version of himself in Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000-2009). His time on Curb also overlapped with his role as Arthur Frosbisher in Damages (2007-2010).
Heather Locklear (TJ Hooker, Dynasty)
Way back in the early ‘80s, Locklear had roles in two memorable series, including playing Officer Stacy Sheridan in TJ Hooker, opposite William “Cpt. Kirk” Shatner from 1982-1986, as well as playing Sammy Jo Dean Carrington in Dynasty, first in a recurring role, then as a permanent cast member from 1981-1989. While she played a good cop on TJ Hooker, it was her bad girl role on Dynasty that would help define Locklear’s career.