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Get to know veteran character actor Zeljko Ivanek of 'Madam Secretary'

Zeljko Ivanek plays hardheaded White House Chief of Staff Russell Jackson on CBS’s new hit drama Madam Secretary. Russell has an affinity for making things harder for the show’s lead, new Secretary of State Elizabeth “Bess” McCord (Téa Leoni), including an annoying habit of shooting down most of Bess’s bright ideas.

If you’ve watched the show, chances are you’ve said to yourself, “There’s that guy from that other show!” while watching Ivanek. That’s because the veteran character actor has been in countless television programs and movies. Despite not being a household name, his face is definitely a household face, as it has been broadcast into your living room time and time again.

Ivanek has a tendency to be cast as serious, intimidating men of stature, due to his intense, sharp-featured look. He has played heads of government agencies as often as Matthew McConaughey had starred in rom-coms (up until a few years ago). As you can see, Ivanek’s looks don’t change much for the majority of his roles, because an exceptionally interesting and expressive face like his doesn’t need bells and whistles.

Here are some of Ivanek’s other high-profile roles that you may know him from:


REVOLUTION (2013–2014)

Ivanek recently played Dr. Calvin Horn on the NBC show that took place 15 years after a permanent global blackout. Revolution followed a group of revolutionaries seeking to drive out a corrupt occupying force posing as the United States government. Dr. Horn was a member of the antagonist group The Patriots, who described himself as the president’s chief science adviser. Fans were shocked when the show was canceled after its second season.

ARGO (2012)

The now-57-year-old actor played Robert Pender in the year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture. Pender was one of the CIA operatives working on the case of extracting the six U.S. Embassy employees being held hostage in Iran. This is exactly the kind of role that Ivanek is cast in time and time again.

THE EVENT (2010–2011)

Ivanek had one of the lead roles in the short-lived NBC hour-long suspense drama The Event. He starred as Blake Sterling, the director of National Intelligence, who long kept secrets from President Elias Martinez (Blair Underwood). Sterling was cunning, discerning, and well connected in the intelligence community. He quickly rose through the ranks of the agency. It was a shocker when the show was canceled after only one season, frustrating viewers by leaving tons of the show’s questions unanswered.


BIG LOVE (2009–2010)

Ivanek played J.J. Percy Walker, Nicki’s (Chloe Sevigny) first husband and the father of Nicki’s eldest daughter, Cara Lynn (Cassi Thomson), on the hit HBO series about a family that practices polygamy. J.J. was intense, frightening, and domineering, and he even went so far as to force the widowed Adaleen (Mary Kay Place) to marry him.

HEROES (2009)

Ivanek played Emile Danko on the hit NBC drama about humans with superpowers. Danko was an agent with the Department of Homeland Security, tasked with leading a force to hunt down and capture people with special powers.


TRUE BLOOD (2008–2010)

True Blood fans will recognize Ivanek as the intimidating Magister, the vampire judge who presided over all the vampires of North America. Ivanek played this intimidating role perfectly. His character was feared because of his political power and advanced age. During the first season, he tried and sentenced Bill (Stephen Moyer) for murdering a fellow vampire. The punishment? Making Bill turn Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll). Fans thanked the Magister for creating the amazing character of Vampire Jessica! The Magister made it to episode 7 of season 3, when he was decapitated with his own cane by ruthless vamp Russell Edgington.

DAMAGES (2007–2010)

On this Glenn Close–starring FX program, Ivanek played Ray Fiske, a civil law attorney, who commonly conspired against Patty Hewes (Close) to help her lose her case. Ivanek played Fiske as a charmingly manipulative Southern lawyer who is not above fighting dirty in order to win in the courtroom.


OZ (1997–2003)

This beloved HBO program was filled to the brim with excellent character actors. “Oz” was the nickname for the Oswald State Correctional Facility, a fictional maximum-security prison in New York State, and the show followed its inmates and employees. Ivanek played the state’s crooked governor, James Devlin.

24 (2002)

Ivanek starred in the second season of the FOX hit show. He played Andre Drazen, the oldest son of Balkan warlord Victor Drazen and brother of Alexis Drazen. Andre was committed to freeing his father, a prisoner of the United States government—and had little regard for anything or anyone who stood in his way, particularly CTU agent Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland). This role was a classic Ivanek baddie.

This list is just the tip of the iceberg for Ivanek. His IMDb page is jam-packed with television and movie roles, and includes many of the most popular drama programs of their time. Welcome back to the small screen once again, Mr. Ivanek!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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