Sunday, September 27, 2009

Brett Cullen - He Once Was "Lost", But Now He's Found

You may not know the name, but Brett Cullen is someone you've seen many times on television considering he has made more than 100 guest appearances over the past 20 years. When you see him you probably remark on his rugged good looks. At 6 feet two with dark blonde hair and blue eyes he certainly makes a favorable impression. His career can be divided into the following categories: one-shot guest appearances, multi-episode guest appearances, regular cast member, and lead actor in a drama series. His filmography also includes quite a few movies made for television and theatrical release. The man is everywhere! And we are glad about that. In 1980 he took over the lead role from Brian Kerwin in the western family series The Chisholms and has been working nonstop ever since.

A closer examination of his body of work reveals a versatile actor with an admirable list of credits in film and television over the past two decades. In 1984 he was chosen to play Bob Cleary in the megahit miniseries The Thorn Birds, portraying his character from age 16 to 60 over three episodes. From 1986 to 1988 he appeared as Dan Fixx in the top-rated primetime soap opera Falcon Crest. His character was a truck driver who rolled into town one day claiming that he was the rightful heir to the Falcon Crest fortune. This led to numerous confrontations with Jane Wyman's matriarch, Angela Channing, and he more than held his own in these scenes with the Academy award-winning actress. After leaving Falcon Crest he signed on as Marshal Sam Cain in the youth oriented western The Young Riders appearing in 24 episodes during the first season, 1989 to 1990. Over the next eight years he worked continually in film and television, portraying a diverse group of characters in Diagnosis: Murder, Matlock, Star Trek: Deep Space 9, The Outer Limits, Ally McBeal, Suddenly Susan, and The Incredible Hulk. Film appearances during this time included Wyatt Earp(although he ended up on the cutting room floor), Apollo 13, and Something to Talk About. And roles in more than 10 made for television movies provided a full work schedule until 1998.

In 1998 the fledgling broadcast network UPN aired a series entitled Legacy, a family oriented show about a widowed father and his children who own a horse farm in the bluegrass of Kentucky in 1881. Brett Cullen played the lead role of Ned Logan, with a talented group of young actors and actresses supporting him as his family. Although it received critical acclaim, viewership was poor and the series was canceled after 18 episodes. Fans ran a campaign to save the show, but to no avail. Brett was very frustrated by its failure, especially since he had placed so much of himself into the creation of the character Ned Logan and had implicit faith in the quality and appeal of the series.

A new chapter in Brett's career began with the advent of the 21st century; he started making multi-episode guest appearances. Although he continued to appear in films such as The Replacements, Ghost Rider, and National Security, and became a stalwart of made for television movies, his multiple episode story arcs in a variety of series had noticeably increased. They included the West Wing, Friday Night Lights, Ugly Betty, Lost, and Damages.

"Damages" .... Wayne Sutry / ... (6 episodes, 2009)
- Look What He Dug Up This Time (2009) TV episode .... Wayne Sutry
- You Got Your Prom Date Pregnant (2009) TV episode .... Wayne Sutry
- Hey! Mr. Pibb! (2009) TV episode .... Wayne Sutry
- I Knew Your Pig (2009) TV episode .... Wayne Sutry
- Burn It, Shred It, I Don't Care. (2009) TV episode .... Wayne Sutry
(1 more)

"Lost" .... Goodwin Stanhope (4 episodes, 2005-2008)
- The Other Woman (2008) TV episode .... Goodwin Stanhope
- One of Us (2007) TV episode .... Goodwin Stanhope
- A Tale of Two Cities (2006) TV episode .... Goodwin Stanhope
- The Other 48 Days (2005) TV episode .... Goodwin Stanhope

"Friday Night Lights" .... Walt Riggins (4 episodes, 2007)
- I Think We Should Have Sex (2007) TV episode .... Walt Riggins
- Black Eyes and Broken Hearts (2007) TV episode (credit only) .... Walt Riggins
- Blinders (2007) TV episode (credit only) .... Walt Riggins
- Upping the Ante (2007) TV episode .... Walt Riggins

"Ugly Betty" .... Ted LeBeau (3 episodes, 2006-2007)
- Sofia's Choice (2007) TV episode .... Ted LeBea
Fake Plastic Snow (2006) TV episode .... Ted LeBeau
- After Hours (2006) TV episode .... Ted LeBeau

"The West Wing" .... Governor Ray Sullivan R-WV (5 episodes, 2005-2006)
- The Cold (2006) TV episode .... Governor Ray Sullivan R-WV
- Running Mates (2006) TV episode .... Governor Ray Sullivan R-WV
- Message of the Week (2005) TV episode .... Governor Ray Sullivan R-WV
- Things Fall Apart (2005) TV episode .... Governor Ray Sullivan R-WV
- In God We Trust (2005) TV episode .... Governor Ray Sullivan R-WV

And like the Energizer Bunny, he still keeps going, one project following another, keeping his fans happy to have him around, even if he has been "flying under the radar".

Photos courtesy of


  1. i think i remember Brett in an MATLOCK TV episode.

  2. You are correct, Dawn. Matlock's daughter fell in love with his character who was on the shady side and he ended up disappointing her. He was very charmingly nasty in Lost.

  3. Sazball, the Underrated Performer of the Week is my favorite regular feature at the Cafe. When I saw Brett Cullen was the pick this week, I thought I wasn't familar with his work--but I am! He was great as Bob Cleary in THE THORNBIRDS and I remember him in THE YOUNG RIDERS, too. Best of all, your excellent post sent to the Internet to find out more. I learned that he even sang backup for Meatloaf once.

  4. Backup for Meatloaf too?! Boy this guy has had a varied career. I do remember his face and as Bob in the Thornbirds. Interesting blog, Sazball. He certainly is good-looking!

  5. I admit I watched Falcon Crest. I remember Brett. At first I thought he was just a hunk but he proved he could act. He was also good in Lost. I liked this item on him.

  6. loved him in Thornbirds and love your blog, you are the best and most interesting writer.
    keep them coming.