This week, the actor I discuss is in many ways much more obscure than all of the ones I’ve mentioned thus far (yes, even more than Larry Drake).

Short Circuit is a film I hold near and dear to my heart. The recent success of Wall-E has now brought some (much needed) attention to the fondly remembered 80s film. Because of said attention, rumors are sprouting here and there that a remake is in the works. My opinions on that can fill another column for another day. What I am here to talk about is one of the actors in the film that I miss fondly and I would love to see on the big screen once again.

No, I’m not talking about Steve Guttenberg or Ally Sheedy; we know what happened to them. I’m talking about Fisher Stevens. What? Who the hell is that guy, you ask? If you think back, you’ll remember Guttenberg’s character Newton Crosby had a peculiar assistant by the name of Ben Jabituya. The character was of East Indian decent and was the star of the film’s sequel. The actor who portrayed him was Fisher Stevens.

One humorous line of dialogue that always stuck with me was the moment in which Ben comments that he is in fact from Pittsburgh when his love for America is called into question. The reason why it makes me chuckle is because Stevens, in actuality, was born in Chicago and does not have any East Indian blood in him at all. But wasn’t he dark skinned? Think again, that was all make-up and acting. When I found out about that, I was floored. Sure, I’ve come across people who’ve claimed to be offended about a casting stunt like that. But you know what? How can you be offended if he did the job well? So well, in fact, that you didn’t even know it was acting?

Stevens started acting at a young age and immediately entered the cluttered world of off-Broadway plays. From there, he sort of fell into acting for film and television, portraying characters who are so secondary that they literally blend into the background. The man is talented, but there’s something about him that makes his on-screen presence intriguing. He has charisma, but it’s the type that seems only fitted for supporting characters. Similar to the aforementioned Drake, Stevens seems to have found his niche in playing odd and offbeat characters. There are some actors out there that are forever meant to play background characters. While it doesn’t sound enticing at first, sometimes the actors take hold of the character and run with them, eventually creating something wholly original and memorable. While Stevens’ Ben is far from that, he definitely demands your attention whenever he’s on screen. Besides, he was the main character in Short Circuit 2 for a reason, as opposed to the producers looking elsewhere. Admittedly, Stevens’ best role was in Short Circuit. But that doesn’t mean his filmography is any less impressive. Lately he’s been popping up on a number of television programs, most recently in Lost. Over the years, the television landscape has changed drastically, enabling actors of Stevens’ caliber to create characters that would otherwise not be seen. I mean, let’s be honest, if an actor a little more than a decade ago were to make the jump from film to television, it would almost be seen as a sort of demotion in the eyes of the public, as well as producers. Nowadays, film stars are dying for their own television show. Television is as strong as it’s ever been. And actors, such as Stevens, take advantage of that.

He is far from being one of the greatest actors of all time. To be honest, most of his work is even forgettable. But he has worked on certain films that bring a unique sort of nostalgic feeling that very actors have the ability of recreating. He was the villain in Hackers and was Iggy in Super Mario Bros. for crying out loud! But whether he’s hiding under layers of make-up or throwing out an outrageous accent, Stevens is one of the best, underrated and chameleon-like character actors out there.

It’s hard to tell whether or not Stevens will ever make it back to the big screen. He’s making quite the little resume for himself on television, with an appearance on Lost last season, among other shows. He is the epitome of the “I’ve seen them before, but I don’t know from where” actor, the one whose face registers as familiar to all audiences, but not quite familiar enough to remember their name.

He holds a special place in my heart for playing a character in one of the seminal films that had a profound impact on my film watching childhood. He may not be the best, but he sure as hell is interesting. Plus, he does one hell of an East Indian accent.