• Screenshot of episode 2 of The Young Pope starring Jude Law and Bruce (pictured right). (SBS)
One of the most reliable character actors working in Hollywood...
By
Dan Barrett

3 May 2017 - 2:01 PM  UPDATED 18 Jul 2017 - 2:30 PM

You've heard the hype. You've seen the memes. There is a kangaroo in episode 2 of The Young Pope and the great news is that they cast a fair dinkum Aussie to play him.

But, once you get past the excitement of one of our own on the grounds of the Vatican, many of you will be left scratching your heads over something else on screen: just who was that guy?

He's a familiar looking kangaroo. You've seen him in countless movies and TV shows over the years. But, because IMDb is notoriously biased against giving thorough entries for our roo mates, here at SBS, we've put together a guide to this successful Australian actor.

Originally born Melvin Williams, the kangaroo adopted the stage name Bruce upon graduating NIDA. Constrained by the limited range of roles in the local industry, Bruce moved to the US to pursue a career in Hollywood. While he's built a solid reputation as one of the modern great character actors, at first he found his broad Australian accent was a hindrance. Thankfully, the roles soon started flowing his way.

 

Seinfeld

One of his best-remembered roles, Bruce booked a 3-episode arc in the popular sitcom as George's new beau who sparked an unnatural jealousy from Elaine. In this run of episodes Bruce coined the very popular phrase "You bet your sweet milkshake", which is still quoted by fans today.

 

The X-Files (2016)

When The X-Files was revived last year for its limited series run, critics were quick to point out that recurring actor Bruce was a welcome addition to the cast as Mulder and Scully's new boss. Throughout the mini-season run, Mulder suspected that there was something off about their new section chief and that it might be more than being Canadian.

 

The Wire

In this blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo, Bruce appeared as an extra in a scene from the HBO drama The Wire. According to the DVD directors commentary, Bruce was on set visiting series creator David Simon for lunch when the writer insisted Bruce be seen on screen. Despite not having a speaking part, Simon was so impressed he wrote a recurring role for Bruce in his next series Treme.

 

Godspell

Like many working actors, Bruce has worked not only in film and TV, but has spent some time treading the boards. He's a familiar face for his work on Broadway, even if work did slow down following a disastrous run as Frank Butler opposite Bernadette Peters in Annie Get Your Gun. His run on Godspell was praised by critics and audiences alike, even if many agreed his angry energy and constant foraging for leaves and moss on stage was a bold creative choice.

 

Twilight Zone

One of Bruce's earliest screen roles was actually recast midway through shooting the episode. In an early career humiliation, Bruce was bounced from a pivotal role in the now-classic episode "Nightmare At 20,000 Feet". Despite making it through the casting process, episode guest-star William Shatner demanded Bruce be replaced. He explained that nobody would buy Bruce as the monster in the episode, but later confessed that he was jealous that Bruce, being as handsome as he is, would take attention away from Shatner.

* * *

Bruce continues working today. As well as seeing him on The Young Pope, audiences will soon be able to see Bruce as a Themyscirian warrior in the upcoming Wonder Woman film and as Samuel Bowles in the Emily Dickinson biopic A Quiet Passion

 

Catch Bruce in the second episode of The Young Pope right here:

The entire series is available to binge at SBS On Demand.

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