I don’t know about you, but I watch New York Undercover on YouTube like it came out last night. I was a huge fan of the show when it used to come on after Martin and Living Single on Fox on Thursday nights, and I’m still holding out hope that the show will be released on DVD soon. Until then, I catch up on episodes online and find myself surprised by all the now-famous faces I see getting their start as actors (or just getting that young paycheck in between roles) on the show. I thought I would share a few with you. Here are 10 famous folks who had a role on New York Undercover back in the day and you probably didn’t notice.
Taye Diggs – “No Greater Love”
The Brookly-bred actor who mostly talks about his days on Broadway in RENT before getting his big break in Hollywood had a role on the show in 1996. He played Stephon Phillips, the brother of a young man gunned down whose death he’s out to avenge. With his puffy Tommy Hilfiger coat, earrings and Brooklyn accent, Diggs was actually pretty convincing as a gun-toting hoodlum. Check him out at the 1:10 mark.
Joe Morton – “Blondes Have More Fun”
Scandal‘s Papa Pope was already known for his days on Grady, The Brother From Another Planet, Terminator 2 and A Different World. But in 1995, he put on a wig and heels to play Dean and his alter ego, Dinah, the owner of a drag club who is friends/lovers with a victim taken out in the first few minutes of the episode. JC and Eddie had to put on their own wigs and lipstick to do some investigating in Dean’s club.
Regina King – “Tasha”
Already known for her days on 227 and reinventing her image with roles in films like Poetic Justice, King starred in a 1994 episode. She played the mother of a toddler who dies after being given an overdose of medication by a trifling doctor who tries to hide his hands. She was rocking those box braids!
Judy Reyes – “After Shakespeare”
The future Scrubs and Devious Maids star played a woman named Helena in an episode in 1994 that mirrored Shakespeare (maybe that’s why it was called “After Shakespeare”). She was the sister of a gang member, but fell in love with the member of a rival gang. When her new lover ends up dead in her bed, all eyes are on her, her long-term boyfriend, and her gang-banging brother.
Dule Hill – “CAT”
A still fairly unknown actor and dancer (tap), in 1995, Dule Hill played an honor student named Georgie who overdosed on a drug he was trying to cook for a big dealer. That’s right, Hill was a victim taken out within the first few minutes of the episode as TLC’s “Creep” played in the background…
Justin Theroux – “Spare Parts”
During later episodes of the show, around season 4 when Tommy from “Martin” randomly took over as Lt. Malcolm Barker, Theroux (Jennifer Aniston’s fiance and star of the new HBO show The Leftovers) played the brother of Detective Alec Stone. Both from an organized crime family, Stone decided to be a cop, while Theroux, playing Frankie D’Amico, became a top crime boss.
Viola Davis – “Smack Is Back”
In 1996, Davis appeared on the show as Ms. Templeton, a Child Welfare worker who had to determine whether or not JC’s son, “G,” should be allowed to stay with his father. JC slightly shoved Gregory into a door and when G told a friend, word spread and Yoba’s character was reported. Those bangs though! Check Davis out starting at the 0:20 second mark.
Edie Falco – “Internal Parts”
Long before Falco was on Oz or playing Carmela Soprano, she had a recurring role as Sgt. Kelly on New York Undercover. If you’ll recall those crazy episodes where Danny Cort (Ice-T) and JC’s character went head-to-head, Sgt. Kelly investigated JC through internal affairs after suspecting that the detective murdered Cort in retaliation for killing JC’s past love, Sandy (played by Michael Michele). Check her out at the 8:00 mark.
Regina Hall – “No Place Like Hell”
In one of Hall’s very first roles, she played Tammy, the pregnant girlfriend of Clyde (Tyrin Turner of Menace II Society fame). Clyde is a prisoner selling drugs while incarcerated for Mobster (Bokeem Woodbine). She decides that she can’t count on him to care for her since he’s in jail, and tells him that that she’s leaning on one of his best friends. Ice cold…
Cynthia Bailey – “Catman Comes Back”
We already told you about Ice-T’s recurring character, Danny Cort. Well, Bailey made a brief appearance as a masseuse rubbing down Cort’s homeboy in the episode where Cort got out of prison, ready to stir up trouble and violence. Check her out at the 7:30 mark.