When an actor best known for comedy begins to take more dramatic roles, there is no telling how it might turn out until you see it for yourself. In the case of Steve Carell — who is best known as Dunder Mifflin’s sometimes bumbling Scranton branch manger, Michael Scott, on The Office — the transition could not have been smoother and, by now, seeing him lead a miniseries like The Patient is nothing out of the ordinary.
The 10-episode, FX original thriller from creators Joel Fields and Joseph Weisberg stars the Academy Award nominee as a psychotherapist being held prisoner by a man (the extremely versatile Domhnall Gleeson) who reveals himself to be serial killer and demands to be cured of his deadly tendencies. Seeing powerhouse performers like these in The Patient cast is enough to pique my interest, but we will be sure to talk about the limited series’ supporting players, as well, in our following breakdown of who is playing whom.
Steve Carell (Alan Strauss)
Recently widowed therapist Alan Strauss in The Patient is only the latest major dramatic role for the otherwise very funny Steve Carell, whose aforementioned Oscar nomination was for the 2014 true crime thriller, Foxcatcher. Since leaving the Office cast, he re-teamed with Anchorman director Adam McKay for satirical biographical dramas The Big Short and Vice, played the father of a recently deceased Marine in 2017’s Last Flag Flying and the father of a young addict in Beautiful Boy the following year, and was nominated for his sixth acting Emmy for one of the best Apple TV+ shows, The Morning Show, in 2020.
Of course, the star of hit comedies like Bruce Almighty, Little Miss Sunshine, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Crazy Stupid Love has certainly not left his roots behind, having co-created and starred on Netflix’s Space Force and collaborated with his old Daily Show buddy for writer and director Jon Stewart’s political satire, Irresistible, in 2020. Also in 2022, he leant his voice to the Despicable Me prequel, Minions: The Rise of Gru, as the titular criminal mastermind — his best known animated character, in addition to Hammy in Over the Hedge and Whoville’s Mayor in Horton Hears a Who!
Domhnall Gleeson (Sam Fortner)
Alan’s patient (and homicidal captor), Sam Fortner, might be Domhnall Gleeson’s darkest role yet, but it’s a pretty close race for the multi-talented performer who also played a computer hacker in 2012’s Dredd, chewed the scenery as General Hux in the most recent Star Wars movies, and was in Darren Aronofsky’s polarizing thriller, mother! He also played a frontiersman in The Revenant, a shady CIA agent in American Made, a former Irish mob hitman in 2019’s The Kitchen, and reunited with Alex Garland for the sci-fi cautionary tale Ex Machina (a couple years after playing a robot himself in one of the best Black Mirror episodes, “Be Right Back”).
However, the Irish actor’s filmography is not without its more notably lighthearted roles, such Levin in 2012’s Anna Karenina, a hopeless romantic with the gift of time travel in 2013’s About Time, an aspiring songwriter in 2014’s Frank, the creator of Winnie the Pooh in Goodbye Christopher Robin, one of Saoirse Ronan’s love interests in Brooklyn, and Thomas McGregor in the Peter Rabbit movies. Gleeson has also worked a number of times with his father, Emmy winner Brendan Gleeson — such as in the Amazon Prime original comedy, Frank of Ireland (which he and his brother, Brian, also co-created), and, most famously, the Harry Potter movies, as Bill Weasley.
Linda Emond (Candace Fortner)
Playing Sam’s devoted (and morally conflicted) mother, Candace, on The Patient is three-time Tony nominee Linda Emond, who made her screen acting debut in the 1989 fantasy drama, God’s Will. She later worked with Oscar nominee Ed Harris in the 2000 artist biopic Pollock, went on to share the screen with Oscar winners Robert De Niro and Frances McDormand in 2002’s City by the Sea, and, in 2005, starred alongside other Oscar darlings Jennifer Connelly (in Dark Water) and Charlize Theron (in North Country). Other Academy favorites she has worked with include Meryl Streep and Amy Adams in 2009’s Julie & Julia, Holly Hunter in The Big Sick, and Sandra Bullock in Netflix’s The Unforgivable.
Emond’s small screen presence can be traced back to guest appearances on hit series like L.A. Law in the early ‘90s and The Sopranos in 2000 — years before her recurring roles in the Gossip Girl cast as Headmistress Queller, on The Good Wife as Judge Leora Kuhn, and on The Blacklist as Dr. Adrian Shaw. She landed a starring role on AMC’s Lodge 49 and would later appear on Season 3 of HBO’s Succession as Michelle-Anne Vanderhoven. She most recently reprised her role on Law & Order: SVU as Dr. Emily Sopher, which is actually just one of several characters she has played on Dick Wolf’s crime procedural franchise.
Laura Niemi (Beth Strauss)
As Alan Strauss’ recently deceased wife, Beth, we have Laura Niemi, who made her screen acting debut in the 1999 rock drama, Born to Lose, which she followed by guest appearances on TV shows like Firefly, The Sopranos and Criminal Minds to name a few, as well as daytime soap operas like General Hospital, most recently. She also had notable recurring roles in the Justified cast and NBC’s This Is Us cast, and most recently appeared on the Stranger Things Season 4 premiere as Eleven’s high school teacher, Mrs. Gracey.
Other movies that Niemi is known for include director David Schwimmer’s star-studded 2010 drama, Trust, 2013’s Ashton Kutcher-led biopic, Jobs, as the tech mogul’s secretary, and the horror-comedy Chastity Bites from the same year. She starred alongside Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck, and more in Netflix’s The Last Thing He Wanted in 2020, and opposite Angelina Jolie in Taylor Sheridan’s Those Who Want Me Dead the following year.
Andrew Leeds (Ezra Strauss)
As Alan’s estranged son, Ezra, we have Andrew Leeds, who previously worked with Steve Carell when he appeared on the pilot of The Morning Show and previously worked in an FX original when he landed guest appearances on Nip/Tuck and Dirt in the early 2000s, and American Horror Story and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in later years. The actor’s more notable TV credits include his recurring roles on the likes of Bones and Barry, and starring roles on ABC’s short-lived sitcom Cristela and NBC’s also prematurely cancelled, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, and its holiday special from 2021.
Leeds landed his first credited feature film role at 14 with 1995’s Major Payne (starring Damon Wayans in the title role) after making his uncredited film debut opposite Michael J. Fox in 1993’s Life with Mikey. He has since appeared in 2015’s Entourage as a casting agent and in the funny holiday comedy Office Christmas Party as a douchebag tech engineer, which are, just about, his most prominent film credits to date.
David Alan Grier (Charlie Addison)
Steve Carell is not the only The Patient cast member with a background in comedy as David Alan Grier also stars as Alan’s own former mentor and therapist, Charlie. However, this is not the former In Living Color cast member’s first try at drama, having played an abusive stepfather in the classic horror-anthology movie Tales from the Hood, a cop dealing with some wild phenomena in 1995’s Jumanji, a hospital record-keeper in Netflx’s A Series of Unfortunate Events adaptation, and recurring roles on creator Ava DuVernay’s OWN original Queen Sugar and Spectrum’s Neo-Western series, Joe Pickett, most recently.
The actor’s other greatest hits in the world of comedy include 1988’s Blaxploitation parody I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, Boomerang with Eddie Murphy, the Craig Robinson-led Peeples from 2013, and Netflix’s Coffee and Kareem, which just covers some of his best-known big screen credits. Some might recognize Grier better from TV credits like The Carmichael Show as Jerrod Carmichael’s on-screen father, Netflix’s Dad Stop Embarrassing Me as Jamie Foxx’s on-screen father, Fox’s short-lived series The Cool Kids, and two feature-length Wizard of Oz adaptations (2005’s The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz and The Wiz Live! in 2015).
Try not to lose your mind over how good The Patient cast is when you start watching it on FX. You can also stream the new thriller with a Hulu subscription.
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Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.