There’s big news for fans of CW’s The Flash, as it has been announced that Mark Hamill is set to reprise his role as the Trickster from the original 1990 The Flash. Viewers have already been pleasantly surprised by the recurring appearance of original Flash John Wesley Shipp as Barry Allen’s father, but this takes the bridging of the two series to another level. And while it’s not uncommon for reboots to feature cameos by actors from the original, it always comes as a pleasant surprise and as somewhat of an event for fans. So, in honor Mark Hamill and The Flash, here’s a look at some prominent reboots and their crossover actor appearances.
6. The Killing
While you might be more familiar with the American version of this show set in Seattle, The Killing is a remake of the original Danish series Forbrydelsen. The American version did an excellent job of recreating the atmosphere and tone of the dark Danish version, with a great deal of help from its Vancouver based production. As a sort of dedication to the original, lead actress Sofie Gråbøl made a small but important cameo as Sarah Linden’s justice system contact. For such a small part, the role was excellently written and marvelously acted, making a memorable impression on the audience during her very short appearance.
Who shot J.R.? Even if you’ve never seen a single episode of Dallas, chances are you’ve heard a reference to the famous question. In a classic cliffhanger episode of the original series, Larry Hagman’s J.R. Ewing was shot and in a huge television event the deeply disputed shooter was revealed. While the updated Dallas doesn’t exactly capture the nation’s imagination like the old one, there is one thing about it that did – and that’s Larry Hagman’s J.R. Ewing. For seventeen episodes, Hagman hammed it up beautifully as the Ewing family patriarch and was really one of the only things that tied one series to the other, as well as pulling viewers in from an older generation along with the new. Unfortunately, Hagman died – in Dallas, Texas, as it happens – shortly after joining the series, throwing the Ewing family into turmoil and causing a mad scramble for J.R.’s legacy.
4. Star Trek
I could write a lot about Star Trek and its various spin-offs and the multitude of crossover characters from one series to another. However, since we’re talking reboots, we’ll be looking at the J.J. Abrams movie reboots. While the characters remain the same, the cast changes to reimagine the adventures of the young and beautiful crew of the Enterprise. The recasting was and to a certain extent still is a point of contention among fans – all the more reason to bring on a very special original series actor to shepherd in the new crew. Leonard Nimoy played a very important part in the movie as Spock Prime. What this means is that he plays the same old Spock we always knew from the original timeline before Nero went back in time and created this new alternate timeline. He also made a short appearance in Star Trek Into Darkness, and now it sounds like they finally got William Shatner to play a role in the upcoming third movie.
3. Cape Fear
This is perhaps not the best known of films – neither the original 1962 version nor the 1991 Scorsese remake. Both films are taut, suspenseful thrillers but it was the original that pushed the boundaries of contemporary ideas of propriety regarding references to and depictions of rape. The story is about a criminal who goes after the lawyer who once defended him as revenge for allowing him to go to prison. While Scorsese’s version lacks a lot of what makes the original a great film, he was able to get three of the original actors to appear in his remake – including Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, and Martin Balsam. For a student of film like Scorsese, that had to be a big deal.
2. Battlestar Galactica
The 2004 reboot of Battlestar Galactica is notable for a great many things – far too many to list or detail in this paragraph – but one of them happens to be the regular appearance of an original series cast member as an integral character. Richard Hatch, who played Captain Apollo on the original 1970s Battlestar Galactica, takes on the role of Tom Zarek, himself closely associated with Jamie Bamber’s Captain Apollo. Zarek is a morally ambiguous, politically ambitious player – either freedom fighter or terrorist depending on whom you ask. One of the best things about Battlestar Galactica is its ability to prompt open ended questions regarding ethics, morality, and religion – never passing judgment but always keeping us thoughtful. Zarek was one of the many people whose character and actions inspired lively debate and deep conflict.
It’s not often a British series gets an American remake with the same writer and the same lead actor. I mean, why bother making a remake at that point? Regardless, that is exactly what happened when the marvelous and harrowing British series Broadchurch became the American remake Gracepoint. As British audiences patiently await the second season of the mystery drama thriller about the murder of a young boy in a small, intimate town, writer Chris Chibnall and actor David Tennant brought their talents (and in Tennant’s case a slightly suspect American accent) to US screens. By all accounts, the opening episode was basically a shot by shot remake of Broadchurch. We’ll just have to wait until tonight’s finale to find out if the killer will be the same as well.