Like most high quality shows from the early 2000s, Angel racked up an impressive list of guest stars. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off followed David Boreanz in the title role, as the vampire with a soul, with a team trying to save the citizens of Los Angeles from the various mystical forces putting them in peril on a day to day basis. Although the show struggled at points with balancing a darker tone and the comedic expectations brought from its parent show, the series was generally solid and sometimes great throughout its five season run before ending with one of the most controversial finales of all time.
Like Buffy, Angel‘s many guest actors would occasionally go on to become huge stars, appearing in other Joss Whedon shows, superhero films, hit TV series, and even Oscar winning movies. Here are 15 future stars who you may not have known guest starred on Angel.
15. Jeremy Renner
’90s alert: future Avenger Jeremy Renner once had frosted tips. The beautiful hair-do came courtesy of his first season appearance on Angel (which actually aired in January of 2000, but was presumably filmed in the ’90s). Renner played Penn, one of Angel’s deciphels back when he was the evil Angelus. Penn was pretty creepy, and liked to kill people who looked like members of his family, eventually forcing Angel to hunt him down and take him on. He was eventually staked by good cop Kate, laying Penn and his beautiful frosted tips and serial killer glasses to rest forever.
Renner’s appearance on Angel was one of his first acting roles, preceded most notably by National Lampoon’s Senior Trip. Since his appearance on Angel, Renner appeared in a number of TV guest starring roles before landing roles in 28 Weeks Later and The Hurt Locker. Renner’s biggest break came when he landed the role of Hawkeye in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, first cameoing in Thor before moving on to the Avengers films and Captain America: Civil War. Renner has also been seen in Mission: Impossible— Ghost Protocol, The Bourne Legacy, American Hustle and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. Simply put, he’s one of the biggest stars working today, and he’s done it all without those lethally frosted tips.
14. Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Jeffrey Dean Morgan stopped by Angel at an odd time for the show. The gang, fresh off the high of a new baby Connor coming into their lives, appear to actually be happy. Angel and Cordelia are being adorable, Holtz is around but hasn’t been a huge factor on anyone’s radar yet. The few episode hiatus from constant angst was refreshing for the traditionally dark show, but it didn’t mean that they were without problems to solve, which is where Morgan came in; his character, Sam Ryan, tricked Angel into disposing of a vampire nest for him by pretending to be his boss, taking advantage of the vampire’s new obsession with money in the wake of his son being born. (This episode may also be remembered by some as that time those creepy demons almost stole Fred’s head to put on their king’s body so he could have her brain…)
In real life, Morgan is known for appearing in Grey’s Anatomy, Supernatural, Watchmen and Magic City. Most recently, he can be seen playing the villainous Negan in AMC’s mega hit series, The Walking Dead, where he’s set to become TV’s next great big bad.
13. Christina Hendricks
Christina Hendricks’ appearance on Angel was brief, but it was enough to make the actress stand out to series creator Joss Whedon. Hendricks popped in for a season one episode, in flashbacks showing Darla in a tavern right before siring Angel. Most viewers probably don’t remember Hendricks on the show, which was only her third role as an actress.
However, fans of the Whedonverse probably remember her as con woman Saffron on Firefly, another beloved Whedon creation. The actress — who has also appeared in Drive, Another Period, Life as We Know It and Detachment — is best known for her starring role as Joan Harris on AMC’s Mad Men. In that series, she starred with fellow Angel actor Vincent Kartheiser (although she appeared seasons earlier than Kartheiser’s Connor did). She earned six Emmy nominations for her portrayal of Joan, and although she never won, she did win multiple Critics Choice Awards and Gold Derby Awards, as well as a series of Screen Actors Guild Awards for the show’s ensemble cast.
12. Kal Penn
Kal Penn has actually had two appearances in the Whedonverse. His first was on the flagship series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where he appeared as one of Buffy’s fellow UC Sunnydale students in the much derided “Beer Bad.” His appearance on Angel didn’t come until a couple years later, when the show was in its third season. There, he appeared as a demon who had a human appearance (despite the whole exposed brain thing) who was hired by the evil Lilah to cause trouble for Angel and the gang by sending Cordelia violent, painful visions. Luckily, Angel was able to kill him via a crowbar to the brain, and Penn was freed to move on to bigger and better things.
The actor is well known for his appearances in the Harold & Kumar films, as well as his roles on How I Met Your Mother and House. He has also gotten involved in politics, working under President Barack Obama as the associate director in the Office of Public Engagement for a spell. He can currently be seen on the Kiefer Sutherland-starring ABC series, Designated Survivor.
11. Daniel Dae Kim
Daniel Dae Kim actually appeared on 12 episodes of Angel, but its still unlikely that the average viewer would remember him. He played Gavin Park, a lawyer for Wolfram & Hart who was known to conflict with Lilah because of the methods he used to try to take down Angel and the gang. Gavin was one of the more boring Wolfram & Hart lawyers, and his attempts of taking on Angel through legal loopholes didn’t exactly make him stand out on screen. Luckily, after a bloody death at the hands of The Beast, Kim was freed to move on to new projects, where he was able to truly make a name for himself.
He had a recurring guest starring role on 24 before appearing in Spider-Man 2. His big break, however, came when he landed the role of Jin on ABC’s Lost, where he quickly became a fan favorite. After his six season run on that hit series, Kim landed another starring role on CBS’ Hawaii Five-0 reboot. He can also be seen in the Divergent series.
10. Tony Todd
You may not recognize Tony Todd’s face, but if you’re a fan of The Flash, then you’ve definitely heard his voice. The actor is fresh off a stint voicing season two’s main baddie Zoom on The CW series, bringing the perfect amount of terror and chill to the villainous role. On Angel, he was also pretty unrecognizable in full prosthetic make-up as Vyasa, a demon who joins Angel and Gunn in a heist to steal the powerful shroud of Rahmon. Little known to Vyasa, who wants to keep the shroud, Angel and Gunn are actually trying to destroy it. While they succeed, Vyasa ends up being a casualty of the demon who hired the group.
Todd has also been seen as the titular character in the horror film Candyman and has appeared in the Night of the Living Dead and Final Destination series. The actor also voiced The Fallen in 2009’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and has had guest starring roles on shows like The X-Files, Xena Wariorr Princess, Chuck, Star Trek: Voyager, 21 Jump Street, Criminal Minds and both 24 and 24: Redemption, where he played two different roles. Best known for his chillingly villainous character work, at age 61, Todd has shown no signs of slowing down. He can currently be seen playing the Tall Man on the Freeform series, Dead of Summer.
9. Ken Marino
Ken Marino appeared on a very creepy episode of Angel, in a very creepy role. He played Wilson Christopher, a fashion photographer who only got his fame and fortune through a deal with a demon. As part of the deal, he agrees to impregnate Cordelia with the demon’s spawn, which leads to a whirlwind pregnancy for the wannabe actress while the gang desperately races against time and prevent her from having to become mother to a demon. The episode was very strange and a bit skeevy towards its female characters, which is unusual for a Whedon show, causing many fans to erase it from their memories entirely.
Marino’s appearance is unfortunate, considering how great he is as an actor. The now-47 year old is best known for appearing in comedies like Party Down, Wet Hot American Summer, We’re the Millers, Wanderlust and Role Models, which he also wrote. He has earned two Emmy nominations for Children’s Hospital, which he stars in and writes, and another Emmy nomination for Yahoo’s spot-on Bachelor parody Burning Love, which he has also directed and executive produced.
8. Navi Rawat
Navi Rawat played Dana, a potential slayer who suddenly found herself with incredible powers after Willow used the scythe to give super strength to all the potentials during the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series finale. Dana had an incredibly difficult childhood, with her entire family being murdered by a psychopath who then kidnapped and tortured her for years. This led to her being confined to a mental institution for most of her life, which she breaks out of once she gets her strength, leading to her wreaking havoc on the city and on Spike, who she mistakes for her captor.
The role was a very dark one for Rawat, but the actress is used to playing tough parts. Rawat has guest starred on shows like 24, Burn Notice, Grey’s Anatomy, Justified and Castle, and had a memorable role as Ryan Atwood’s ex-girlfriend Theresa on The O.C. She is best known for her starring role as Amita Ramanujan on CBS’ Numb3rs, though it’s been a few years since she popped up in a mainstream film or television role.
7. Aimee Garcia
Aimee Garcia appeared in an alternate reality on Angel. She starred as Cynthia in a season three episode in which Cordelia, in such pain from her visions, passes out and is told that she will die if she continues having the brain damaging prophecies. Skip, a demon working for the Powers That Be, zaps her into an alternate universe where she is actually the star of a hit TV show; however, her true duty calls to her, placing her back at the Hyperion, where she runs into Cynthia and eventually realizes that she needs to go back to the real world (after becoming part demon, courtesy of Skip).
Garcia has appeared in a wide variety of roles over the years, including Cadet Kelly, Spanglish, RoboCop, ER, Greetings from Tuscon, CSI, Supernatural, Bones, Family Guy, Love Bites and more. She is well known for her work on Dexter, Vegas and George Lopez. She landed a starring role on the recently cancelled CBS Rush Hour reboot, and can currently be seen in season two of FOX’s Lucifer.
6. Mikey Day
You may not know the name Mikey Day yet, but you there’s a good chance that you soon will. The actor was promoted to a featured player for Saturday Night Live‘s newest season, most notably playing Donald Trump Jr. in the season premiere’s Celebrity Family Feud parody that featured a flawless Margot Robbie as Ivanka Trump and the incomparable Larry David as Bernie Sanders. Day also played Tim Kaine in the cold open of the Lin-Manuel Miranda-hosted episode, although his appearance was overshadowed by Alec Baldwin’s spot-on Trump impression. He’s served as a head writer and cast member on Maya & Marty, and has appeared on Wild ‘n Out, Reno 911!, Kath & Kim, MAD, Friends with Benefits and Robot Chicken.
Day was actually making his acting debut on Angel, where he played O’Shea, an American soldier who is stuck on a submarine that Angel, Spike and another vampire are thrown onto as part of an evil government initiative (aren’t they always evil?). His appearance was brief, but hopefully he will be able to clock more screen time than he had on the series in his new role on SNL.
5. Sam Witwer
Being Human star Sam Witwer is best known for playing a vampire, but on Angel, he played a regular old human who has very bad luck. Witwer’s character John was the first to run into Jasmine, the goddess who wreaked havoc on Angel’s world in the rocky bottom half of season four (which is widely regarded as the Whedonverse’s worst season). He was her first victim, and, unfortunately, her touch left him crazy and confined to a mental facility.
Witwer is best known for starring in the U.S. remake of Being Human, which ran for four seasons on SyFy before ending in 2014. The actor has also appeared on Battlestar Galactica, Smallville, and in numerous properties in the Star Wars universe, including Star Wars: The Clone Wars (which he earned a Daytime Emmy nomination for) and Star Wars Rebels. He also voiced a storm trooper in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Witwer’s Star Wars credentials don’t end there, of course, as he’s probably best known for providing the likeness and voice for Galen Marek/Starkiller, the protagonist of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. He even voiced Emperor Palpatine in the Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens video game.
Most recently, he can be seen on Once Upon a Time as Mr. Hyde.
4. Joel David Moore
Avatar star Joel David Moore had a very small role on Angel‘s fourth season, appearing as one of Angelus’ vampire minions, recruited to wreak havoc on Los Angeles during eternal night. Unfortunately for him, the character was not long for the world, as he was killed by the sun after it returned to the California metropolis following the Beast’s death.
The role came early on in Moore’s career, which he spent guest starring on shows like Boston Public, Six Feet Under, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Providence. His first big break came as a member of the Average Joes team in 2004’s Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. He appeared in other comedies like Grandma’s Boy, The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning and Paris Hilton’s The Hottie & The Nottie (which is, indeed, a real movie) before appearing in 2009’s mega-hit Avatar with the likes of Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Rodriguez. The actor has since guest starred on Medium, Last Man Standing and Franklin & Bash, and has had a starring role on Forever and a recurring role on Bones.
3. Alexa Davalos
Alexa Davalos hit the big time this past year with her appearance in the highly acclaimed Amazon series, The Man in the High Castle, where she starred as Juliana Crain. The actress played Gwen Raiden on Angel, one of her first roles. Gwen was cursed with an electric touch, which killed most people she had physical contact with, putting a damper on her budding relationship with Gunn.
Davalos is also known for appearing in The Chronicles of Riddick, The Mist, and Defiance. Although she has not had many roles recently outside of her hit Amazon series, all of them have been in big properties. She appeared as Andromeda in 2010’s Clash of the Titans remake starring Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes. In 2013, she had a main role on TNT’s short-lived series Mob City, starring future Punisher star Jon Bernthal. She will reprise her Man in the High Castle role in the upcoming second season.
2. Summer Glau
Summer Glau would go on to be well known for her appearance in another Joss Whedon series, but the actress got her start on Angel. In her very first film credit, Glau played a ballerina in season three’s cerebral “Waiting in the Wings.” The storyline was one of the better and more ambitious episodes of the series, following a ghostly ballet show that showed off Glau’s real-life ballerina skills. She was so impressive in the role that Whedon remembered her when it came to casting his space epic Firefly, where she landed the role of River Tam.
She reprised the role in Serenity, where she got to use her dance skills again in executing one of the coolest fight scenes of all time. The part earned Glau lifelong nerd cred, which was only reinforced when she landed a starring role on the short-lived Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. She has also had recurring guest star roles on Arrow, Dollhouse, Sequestered, Con-Man, Alphas and Grey’s Anatomy and appeared on another short-lived series, The Cape.
1. Josh Holloway
Josh Holloway’s appearance on Angel was so brief that he was only credited as “Good Looking Guy.” However, the actor actually had a role in a very important episode of the series: the pilot, “City Of,” playing one of the vampires who Angel slays in his save the cat moment.
Holloway would go on to have a lot more noticeable, less fatal roles, starting just a few years later when he made a starring turn as Sawyer on ABC’s mega hit, Lost. The role gave Holloway an indefinite amount of cool action star cred, and he was able to ride that momentum to appearances on Community and in action films like Mission: Impossible— Ghost Protocol, Paranoia and Sabotage. He also starred in the dance film Battle of the Year in 2013 before moving to the CBS drama Intelligence, which was canceled after one season. Holloway is currently starring in the USA series Colony, which, despite having a fairly under-the-radar first season, was renewed for a second season, which is set to premiere at some point in 2017.
Do you know of any other well-known stars that appeared on Joss Whedon’s Angel? Let us know in the comments.