Throughout his career, Matthew Lillard has appeared in slashers, romantic comedies, a cult classic about a group of hackers, and small independent films featuring characters that made a little punk teenager in Louisiana feel like he wasn’t alone in the world. The Scream star has also given commanding performances on multiple great television shows that display not only his talent, but versatility with a variety of characters.
With his appearance in one of the best horror movies of the year, not to mention a guest spot on one of the most popular shows on the 2022 TV schedule, now seems like a great time to take a look back at some of the great Matthew Lillard movies and shows from over the years.
The quiet town of Woodsboro, California, finds itself at the center of a media frenzy when a masked killer, known simply as Ghostface, goes on a rampage and begins claiming multiple victims in shocking displays of horror. When no one else can solve the case, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Dewey Riley (David Arquette), and Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) team up to stop the slasher in his tracks.
The original Scream cast is a who’s who of standout ‘90s stars, including Matthew Lillard, who portrayed Stu Macher, a.k.a. one of the two killers behind the iconic mask. One of the most over-the-top characters of the bunch, Stu also proves to be one of the most menacing, especially during the big reveal when he uses the voice-changer to reveal himself to Sidney.
Years after being banned from the internet because he crashed more than 1,500 computer systems and almost brought the New York Stock Exchange to its knees, teenage hacker Dade Murphy (Jonny Lee Miller), a.k.a. Zero Cool, a.k.a. Crash Override, is back to his old games. But in addition to catching the eye of the authorities and a shady corporation, Dade earns the respect of a group of thrill-seeking hackers.
If you like Matthew Lillard when he’s flying a thousand miles a minute, then you’ll love his performance as Emmanuel Goldstein, a.k.a. Cereal Killer in Hackers. Whether he’s hacking away at the system, rollerblading away from FBI agents, or sticking it to the man, Cereal Killer is fun-loving and fun to watch. I mean, check out his hair, his glasses, his everything!
SLC Punk! (1999)
For Stevo (Matthew Lillard) and Bob (Michael Goorjian), life is about rebelling, drinking, partying, and beating the crap out of Nazis and rednecks while still trying to survive their day-to-day lives in Salt Lake City in the mid-1980s. But when Stevo’s dad (Christopher McDonald) signs him up for Harvard Law School behind his back, the young punk’s worldview is given a spin.
Let me get this out of the way, SLC Punk! is my favorite Matthew Lillard movie, and there’s no changing my mind. What really makes this movie so great, besides the great soundtrack and messages about life, love, and “selling out,” is the range Lillard shows, especially in the film’s second half where it goes from a comedy to an incredibly moving drama. There’s also one heartbreaking scene near the end that is probably the best display of his acting ability.
Bosch (2016 - 2017)
Los Angeles Police Department homicide detective Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver) is about as hard-nosed as a guy can be in his line of work. Despite being abrasive, having a broken moral compass, and showing little to no respect to those around him, he still gets the job done time and time again, even if it takes everything from him.
On top of featuring outstanding performances from lead actors like Welliver, Amy Aquino, and The Wire cast standouts Jamie Hector and Lance Reddick, Bosch also featured a number of great guest stars, including Matthew Lillard. Appearing on several episodes throughout the show’s seven-season run, Lillard took on the role of FBI agent Luke Goshen, who is so deep into an undercover operation it’s like he’s playing two completely different characters from the time you first meet him and then see him later on. Brilliant.
She's All That (1999)
Zack Siler (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is the most popular guy at school, but his reputation is in need of a good fix after his equally popular girlfriend dumps him for a reality TV star just weeks before senior prom. Upon taking a bet from his friends, Zack agrees to turn tormented artist and outcast Laney Boggs (Rachael Leigh Cook) into prom queen.
Matthew Lillard’s portrayal of Brock Hudson in She’s All That is honestly one of the things that makes the 1999 teen romantic comedy so much fun. And, like, we’re supposed to hate Brock because he stole Zack’s girlfriend at spring break, but it’s impossible not to like him. He’s in his own world and subscribes to his own rules. Sure, he’s crude, dim-witted, and a social butterfly, but he’s oh, so much fun.
Scooby-Doo: The Movie (2002)
Two years after bitter in-fighting forced Mystery, Inc. to shut its doors, Fred Jones (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Daphne Blake (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Velma Dinkley (Linda Cardellini), Shaggy Rogers (Matthew Lillard), and Scooby-Doo (Neil Fanning) join forces once more upon being summoned to a dangerous island where their biggest mystery awaits.
Scooby-Doo: The Movie, which was written by James Gunn of all people, is both a love letter to the original animated series and a new spin on the property. It feels like the actors were born to play these roles, especially Matthew Lillard and his take on Shaggy. It should come as no surprise that Lillard has voiced the character countless times since the film’s release and is second only to the late Casey Kasem when it comes to playing the character the most.
The Descendants (2011)
Just before Matt King (George Clooney) is supposed to make a decision on a lucrative land deal that would make his family some of the richest people in Hawaii, his wife is involved in a devastating boating accident that has left her in a coma from which there is no return. If those two crises weren’t enough, Matt also learns his wife was not only not happy in their marriage, she was also cheating on him.
Matthew Lillard shows up in The Descendants as Brian Speer, the successful real estate agent with whom Matt’s wife is having an affair, and he absolutely kills it. There’s a scene when Matt finally catches up with Brian and confronts him about the affair that is just so perfect. While Clooney’s character has nothing to lose at this point, it’s the opposite for Lillard’s. His body language speaks louder than words.
Good Girls (2018 - 2021)
Sisters Beth Boland (Christina Hendricks) and Annie Marks (Mae Whitman), and their friend Ruby Hill (Retta), team up to make some quick cash in a time of need: they plan on robbing a local grocery store. Although the heist was a success and they’re able to get the money they need, the trio soon finds themselves out of their league in the underground crime world.
Matthew Lillard’s portrayal of Beth’s husband, Dean Boland, could go down as one of the most despicable characters to ever show up in a crime comedy on NBC if you just think about all the misfortune he brings to his family. However, Lillard’s charm makes the character so much fun. Sure, he’s objectively a terrible person, but we can’t all be perfect.
Serial Mom (1994)
After running over her son’s teacher, housewife Beverly Sutphin (Kathleen Turner), one of the worst horror movie moms, realizes she has a bloodlust that is something fierce and becomes the most sadistic and notorious serial killer her suburban town has ever seen.
John Waters’ 1994 dark comedy, Serial Mom, is an outrageously good time, and everyone in the cast plays their parts perfectly. Just look at Matthew Lillard’s take on Chip Sutphin, Beverly’s teenage, horror-obsessed son, who sticks by his mom’s side through it all, even when he lets the fame get to his head. Sure, he’s a little sociopathic, but it must run in the family.
Twin Peaks: The Return (2017)
Twin Peaks: The Return, which serves as the third season of David Lynch’s landmark TV supernatural crime drama, follows several characters from the mysterious town of Twin Peaks, Washington, after the case of Laura Palmer’s murder is reopened.
The series doesn’t just take place in the quiet and eerie mountain town from the first two seasons and includes multiple characters in various locations and dimensions. This includes William Hastings (Matthew Lillard), a high school principal in South Dakota who becomes the prime suspect in a vicious double-murder. Although he doesn’t appear on the show all that much, Lillard’s character’s arc is worth a watch.
Well, this should have you more than covered if you want to take a journey through Matthew Lillard’s career. But if you want to check out even more of his portrayal of Shaggy Rogers, check out this list of the best Scooby-Doo movies and how to watch them.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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