Among the exciting new releases on Netflix in November is Six Feet Under, the critically acclaimed HBO series that ran from 2001 to 2005. The drama follows a family who runs a funeral home in Los Angeles as they deal with their own morality, relationships, and life choices. The character development and storytelling are so great in this show, and it doesn’t lack emotional moments. But even though the show deals with serious themes, it’s also incredibly charming and sometimes funny.
The main cast members of Six Feet Under went on to see success in their careers — Michael C. Hall starred in Dexter, a role he won a Golden Globe for, Lauren Ambrose has led several projects like Servant, Frances Conroy continued her career with American Horror Story and other titles, and Peter Krause appeared in popular shows such as Parenthood and 9-1-1 — but do you remember other famous actors that showed up?
They might not all have been household names then, but many familiar faces played roles in Six Feet Under. Here are seven of the most notable you might’ve forgotten about!
Ben Foster as Russell
Claire’s classmate in art school, Russell, is a memorable character in Six Feet Under, but looking back, actor Ben Foster is unrecognizable in the role! Claire and Russell have a complicated friendship throughout the years, briefly dating early on in the series. The actor who portrayed him is now 43 years old and has had a notable career since his time on the HBO drama.
Foster is best known for movies like Hell or High Water, Leave No Trace, 3:10 to Yuma, The Messenger, Alpha Dog, and Lone Survivor. In 2022, he and his co-stars were nominated for an Emmy Award for the TV movie The Survivor, in which he starred. Foster has been married to actress Laura Prepon since 2018 and they share two children.
Rainn Wilson as Arthur
If you’re a big fan of Six Feet Under, there’s no way you forgot about Rainn Wilson’s performance as Arthur Martin. But I’m sure many casual fans didn’t even realize it was The Office star! The character is introduced in the third season when he comes to live at the funeral home for an apprenticeship. Though he’s a little unusual, he gets along with the Fishers until Ruth tries to pursue a sexual relationship with him. Then things get a bit weird.
After Six Feet Under, Wilson, now 57, went on to appear in movies like Juno, Super, The Rocker, and The Meg, as well as shows such as Backstrom, Utopia, Mom, Dark Winds, and more recently Lessons in Chemistry. Of course, his most famous role to date is that of Dwight Schrute in The Office, which he played for all nine seasons of the beloved sitcom. He was nominated for three Emmy Awards during the show’s run.
Wilson is married to fiction writer Holiday Reinhorn and they share one son.
Kathy Bates as Bettina
Kathy Bates’ character in Six Feet Under, Bettina, is one of my favorites. Ruth’s sister Sarah’s caretaker and friend, Bettina has a spunky personality and sometimes might seem like a bad influence, but in the end, she’s actually a really great friend. She and Ruth become close throughout the seasons, and in the finale, Ruth moves in with her and Sarah. The character would not be as great as she is if someone else portrayed her, as Bates is fantastic in the role.
Bates, 75, is an Academy Award winner who has appeared in a long list of great movies and shows. Some of her best include Dolores Claiborne, Misery (for which she won an Oscar), Titanic, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Richard Jewell. She also appeared in American Horror Story and The Office, just like her former Six Feet Under co-stars.
Justin Theroux as Joe
Justin Theroux is one of my favorite actors, and he appears in Six Feet Under playing the minor role of Joe. He’s introduced in the season 3 finale as a new love interest of Brenda’s, and unfortunately, he ends up heartbroken when Brenda cheats on him with Nate. Joe is a really great character but understandably, his part in the show is very limited.
Theroux, 52, is an Emmy Award-winning actor, best known for movies like Mulholland Drive, American Psycho, Wanderlust, and Inland Empire, as well as shows such as The Leftovers, Maniac, The Mosquito Coast, and more recently White House Plumbers. His two Emmys were shared with the cast of the TV special sitcom Live in Front of a Studio Audience: ‘All in the Family’ and ‘Good Times’.
Theroux was previously married to Jennifer Aniston from 2015 to 2017.
Mena Suvari as Edie
Edie is another character in Claire’s life in Six Feet Under. A fellow artist, the two form a romantic relationship that’s pretty short-lived. She only appears in the fourth season. The character is portrayed by Mena Suvari, 44, who began acting as a teenager. Throughout the years, you might know her from shows such as Boy Meets World, Chicago Fire, South of Hell, and American Woman. She also appeared in American Horror Story like other Six Feet Under alums.
As for movies, Suvari is best known for American Beauty, which Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball wrote, along with American Pie and its sequels, Rumor Has It…, and Beauty Shop. In 2000, she was nominated for a BAFTA Award for her supporting role as Angela Hayes in American Beauty.
Chris Messina as Ted
Ted doesn’t get introduced in Six Feet Under until the final season, but he becomes one of the most important people to one of the central characters, Claire. The two meet at work; Ted is an attorney while Claire works in a temp position at the legal department. He’s older than her and more established, but the two form a romance, and as we learn in the flash-forward ending of the show, they eventually get married.
The character is played by Christ Messina, who went on to become more recognizable after his time on Six Feet Under. In the years following, he’s appeared in movies such as Argo, Ruby Sparks, Cake, Birds of Prey, and most recently Air. He’s also been in a handful of popular TV shows, playing the role of Danny Castellano in The Mindy Project and appearing in other series like Damages, Sharp Objects, and this year’s Based on a True Story.
Messina, 49, was previously married to actress Rosemarie DeWitt from 1995 to 2006.
Catherine O’Hara as Carol
The character Carol Ward might not have a big part in Six Feet Under, but she’s definitely memorable. As Lisa’s movie producer boss who appears in the second and third seasons, Carol is incredibly difficult to work for and makes Lisa’s life very stressful. Eventually, Lisa is forced to quit after not being able to take the unfair pressure any longer.
Carol is played by the one and only Catherine O’Hara, a two-time Emmy Award winner who has starred in a long list of popular shows and movies. Most recently, she’s best known for playing Moira Rose in Schitt’s Creek, but she has so many other notable roles that came before that one. She had central parts in Christopher Guest’s beloved comedies Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, Waiting for Guffman, and others. O’Hara also memorably played Kevin’s mom in Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
Some of my personal favorite roles of O’Hara include Sally in The Nightmare Before Christmas, Delia in Beetlejuice, and Gail in After Hours. The actress, now 69 years old, is great in both comedic and dramatic roles, making her the perfect fit for Six Feet Under.