Confession: I am a newly minted Marshmallow. After years of hearing about how wonderful the show was before its unfortunate cancellation after three all too brief seasons, I finally took the plunge about a month ago and now I am hooked. In addition to the stellar main cast, including Kristen Bell (Veronica), Enrico Colantoni (lovable dad Keith Mars), Percy Daggs III (Veronica’s sweet best friend Wallace) and Jason Dohring (Veronica’s off and on again bad boy love interest Logan) there were a surprising number of guest appearances and cameos featuring well-known (or soon to be well-known) actors and directors. Seasons Two and Three featured big names like Kevin Smith, Joss Whedon, Paul Rudd, Rider Strong, Michael Cera, Lucy Lawless, Dianna Agron, Steve Guttenberg, Armie Hammer, and Charisma Carpenter. But even in season one, VM was the kind of show that made you shout, “Hey! Isn’t that….”
Here are my top picks for most notable season one cast surprises:
Amanda Seyfried as Lilly Kane
Where you’ve seen her before: as Cosette on “Les Miserables”, multiple other chick flicks
The whole of Season One revolved around who killed Veronica’s best friend Lilly Kane. Thus? We got to see a whole lot Amanda Seyfried with her head bashed in. Seyfried did really well balancing sweet and slutty. I swear, that’s a compliment.
Paris Hilton as Catlin Ford
Where you’ve seen her before: Sadly, everywhere. Don’t worry, we won’t make you admit watching *that* video.
Hilton appeared in Episode 1.2, “Credit Where Credit’s Due” playing…surprise!…a trashy, pouty rich girl who doesn’t appear too bright. She was really good in the role, as you can imagine by reading any copy of US Weekly from about five years ago.
Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna as Aaron and Lynn Echolls
Where you’ve seen them before: Harry was in the original “Clash of the Titans” and other Hollywood films, Lisa was Billie Reed on “Days of Our Lives” and appeared on Dancing with the Stars
Harry Hamlin was a very pleasant surprise, playing Logan’s dark secret holding dad as only he could, and since Rinna is his real life wife the chemistry was real. Hopefully for them? The tension and turmoil weren’t.
Alyson Hannigan as Trina Echolls
Where you’ve seen her before: as Willow on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and as Lily on “How I Met Your Mother”
Hannigan infused Logan’s B-List movie actress sister with almost enough adorable sweetness to help you forget that Trina was essentially a conniving, talentless bimbo. Almost.
Max Greenfield as Leo D’Amato
Where you’ve seen him before: as Schmidt on “New Girl”
Long before he was using hair “chut-e-ney”, Greenfield was the charming Deputy with the magnetic smile and the adorable drawl. No wonder Veronica was a little smitten by his charisma. I was too.
Alona Tal as Meg Manning
Where you’ve seen her before: as Jo on “Supernatural”
Meg and Jo? Nothing in common. Jo was a kickass, independent, beloved daughter of a hunter who grew up in a bar and never needed a man. Meg? Quiet, sheltered to the point of abuse, who spent a lot of time at church or cheerleading, longing for the love of Veronica’s other romantic partner, Duncan Kane. Tal had the chops to pull off both.
Melissa Leo as Julia Smith
Where you’ve seen her before: most notably in the Oscar winning films “Frozen River” and “The Fighter”
In episode 1.3, “Meet John Smith”, Melissa Leo played a transgendered character with just the right note of heartbreak and hope. A small part, to be sure, but this was no small actor.
Sam Huntington as Luke Haldeman
Where you’ve seen him before: as Josh the werewolf on the US version of “Being Human”
I have a massive, massive crush on Sam Huntington. He plays nerdy-charm like no one else, and even though Luke (and Josh, ultimately) have secrets on the wrong side of the law, you want to take both of them home to meet your parents anyway. Huntington needs to be in all. The. Things.
Jane Lynch as Mrs. Donaldson
Where you’ve seen her before: all over the place, most notably as Sue Sylvester on “Glee”
In episode 1.6, “Return of the Kane”, Lynch got to practice being the bitch of a teacher who has her own agenda and annoys the hell out of the students she wants to destroy. Thank goodness she’s done so many other varied roles, or people would think her typecast.
Jessica Chastain as Sarah Williams
Where you’ve seen her before: in the Oscar winning films “The Help” and “Zero Dark Thirty”
Jessica appeared in episode seven of the season, “The Girl Next Door”. She featured in a dramatic mini-mystery of the week, holding her own in an incredibly overwrought plot. Who knew we were watching an Oscar nominee at work?
Aaron Paul as Eddie LaRoche
Where you’ve seen him before: as Jesse Pinkman on “Breaking Bad”, bitch!
What is it about Aaron Paul playing a strung out criminal, man? In episode 1.11, “Silence of the Lamb”, Paul gave us a preview of things to come. Kudos to him: he makes sketchy drug addicts look good.
Tina Majorino as Cindy “Mac” Mackenzie
Where you’ve seen her before: as Deb in “Napoleon Dynamite” and as Dr. Heather Brooks on “Grey’s Anatomy”
If you need an actress to play a geeky weirdo with a heart of gold, Marjorino is your girl. She was great as Mac, Veronica’s tech goddess extraordinaire, who figures out what family really means. We’ll see her again in the movie. Yay!
Adam Scott as Chuck Rooks
Where you’ve seen him before: in a bunch of movies, and as Ben on “Parks and Recreation”
Another huge crush of mine? One of the most adorable men in Hollywood, that’s who. Scott appears in episode 1.14, “Mars vs. Mars”, playing a teacher who may or may not want his students to not stand so close to him. He is cute and sweet enough to make you wonder right up until the last minute. And speaking of episode 1.14….
Leighton Meester as Carrie Bishop
Where you’ve seen her before: as Blair Waldorf on “Gossip Girl”
Meester is the one who accuses the aforementioned hottie Mr. Rooks. I’ve never seen Gossip Girl, so I cannot comment on typecasting, but I will say the Meester looks very comfortable playing the high school girl you love to hate.
Zachery Ty Bryan as Caz Truman and Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Ben
Where you’ve seen them before: Brad and Randy on “Home Improvement”
Appearing in 1.17, “Kanes and Abel’s” and 1.18 “Weapons of Class Destruction” respectively, I’m sure that many people felt their Teen Beat hearts pound at the casting of their adolescent crushes. JTT held up well in particular, looks-wise. No one knew that would be his last acting job (by choice) for a good, long time.
Joey Lauren Adams as Geena Stafford
Where you’ve seen her before: in a bunch of movies, including “Dazed and Confused” and as the lead in the Kevin Smith flick “Chasing Amy”
Adams is a polarizing actress. People either love her or hate her. Me? I’m a fan. She looks pretty young to be playing a teacher, but is utterly believable as the former Pep Squad coach in episode 1.18, who yearns for some legitimacy. I only wish her role had lasted longer. Veronica needed Ms. Stafford to have her back.
Stay tuned for more Veronica Mars goodness as the long-awaited movie date approaches.