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Incredible Guest Stars You Forgot Were in "Miami Vice"

By Staff Writer
Share to PinterestIncredible Guest Stars You Forgot Were in "Miami Vice"
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"Miami Vice" remains an iconic TV series that defined the 1980s with its sleek style, pulsating soundtrack, and gritty portrayal of Miami's underworld. But beyond its charismatic lead characters, Don Johnson as Sonny Crockett and Philip Michael Thomas as Ricardo Tubbs, the show boasted an impressive roster of guest stars that left a lasting impact. In this listicle, we delve into the incredible guest stars who graced the neon-lit streets of Miami and brought their talents to this groundbreaking series.

Set against the backdrop of Miami's vibrant and dangerous criminal underworld, "Miami Vice" follows two vice detectives, Crockett and Tubbs, as they take on drug lords, smugglers, and corrupt officials. With its stylish visuals, innovative use of music, and gritty storytelling, the series captivated audiences and became a cultural phenomenon.

One of the remarkable aspects of "Miami Vice" was its ability to launch the careers of many young actors who would go on to become household names. From future action stars to Oscar-winning actors, the show served as a launching pad for talent. It provided a platform for these actors to showcase their skills and gain recognition in the industry.

Let's celebrate the forgotten guest stars of "Miami Vice" who made their mark on the series. From Bruce Willis to Julia Roberts, Ben Stiller to Liam Neeson, these talented performers brought depth, charisma, and intensity to their roles, elevating the already stellar cast. Exploring their contributions to the show reminds us of the star power and versatility that made "Miami Vice" an enduring television classic.

Join us as we journey back to the neon-soaked streets of Miami and rediscover the incredible guest stars who played a part in shaping the legacy of "Miami Vice." Get ready to be surprised and delighted as we unveil the forgotten talents that added an extra layer of intrigue and excitement to this iconic series.

01

Jimmy Smits: The Original Partner

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Before the iconic duo of "Crockett and Tubbs" graced our screens, there was "Crockett and Rivera." Jimmy Smits, in his acting debut, played Eddie Rivera, Crockett's original partner. Smits' character was a dedicated and loyal officer who unfortunately didn't make it past the pilot episode. His tragic demise set the tone for the series, introducing audiences to the dangerous and unpredictable world of "Miami Vice." Smits' brief performance was impactful and memorable, setting a high standard for the guest stars that followed.

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02

Ben Stiller: The Fast-talking Con Artist

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Ben Stiller, known for his quick wit and comedic timing, brought his unique brand of humor to "Miami Vice." He portrayed Fast Eddie Felcher, a small-time con artist with a knack for getting into trouble. This was only Stiller's third small-screen performance, but he managed to leave a memorable impression. His character added a touch of levity to the series, providing comic relief amidst the high-stakes drama. Stiller's performance showcased his versatility as an actor, proving that he could hold his own in both comedic and dramatic roles.

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03

Bruce Willis: The Arms Dealer

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Before he became a household name with action films like "Die Hard," Bruce Willis was making waves on the small screen. In the first season of "Miami Vice," he played Tony Amato, an arms dealer with a knack for getting under the skin of our protagonists. This role helped kickstart Willis' television career, leading to his Golden Globe-winning performance in Moonlighting. His portrayal of Amato was both charismatic and menacing, adding a complex villain to the series roster.

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04

Steve Buscemi: The Middleman

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Known for his unique characters and distinctive acting style, Steve Buscemi brought his talents to "Miami Vice." He played the middleman for a Bolivian drug lord, a role that allowed him to showcase his range as an actor. His character was caught in a dangerous game, serving as the link between the drug lord and the buyers. This performance, though not his most famous, demonstrated Buscemi's ability to immerse himself in diverse characters, making him a memorable part of the series.

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05

Julia Roberts: The Art Gallery Manager

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Before she became America's sweetheart, Julia Roberts appeared in the fourth season of "Miami Vice." She played Polly Wheeler, an art gallery manager who also happened to be a drug dealer's assistant. Her character was complex and multi-faceted, caught between the world of art and crime. Roberts' performance added a touch of romance and intrigue to the series as her character developed a relationship with Sonny. This role showcased Roberts' ability to portray layered characters, hinting at the successful career that was to follow.

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06

Chris Cooper: The Crooked Cop

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In the fourth season finale of "Miami Vice," Chris Cooper made a memorable appearance as a crooked cop from Fort Lauderdale. His character was determined to blow Sonny's cover in the drug underworld, adding an element of suspense and danger to the series. Cooper's performance was compelling and intense, showcasing his ability to play morally ambiguous characters. This role served as a testament to Cooper's acting prowess, proving that he could hold his own in a series filled with talented actors.

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07

Dennis Farina: The Gangster

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Dennis Farina, a former police officer turned actor, brought his unique blend of toughness and charm to his role in "Miami Vice." He played Albert Lombard, a charismatic and ruthless gangster who became a recurring figure in the series. Farina's portrayal of Lombard was praised for its authenticity and intensity, showcasing his ability to be a hardened criminal. With his street-smart demeanor and magnetic presence, Farina left an indelible mark on the show, bringing an extra level of danger and intrigue to the "Miami Vice" universe.

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08

Phil Collins: The Con Man

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At the height of his musical career, Phil Collins took a detour into acting with his role in "Miami Vice." He played Phil "The Shill" Mayhew, a game show host and con man who moved to Miami from London. His character was involved in a shady drug deal, adding a layer of intrigue to the series. Collins' performance was praised for its charisma and charm, and his character's storyline provided a unique blend of humor and suspense. This role demonstrated Collins' versatility as an entertainer, proving he could captivate audiences on stage and screen.

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09

Benicio del Toro: The Ex-Con

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A young Benicio del Toro had a bit part in "Miami Vice" in 1987 as Pito, an ex-con-turned-thespian. His character was part of a local theater group, adding a unique cultural element to the series. Despite his minor role, del Toro's performance was impactful, hinting at the successful career ahead of him. This role showcased del Toro's ability to bring depth and nuance to his characters, making him a standout guest star in the series.

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10

Viggo Mortensen: The Junior Detective

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Two years after making his big-screen debut, Viggo Mortensen played junior detective Eddie Trumbull in "Miami Vice." His character and his partner worked a case with Crockett and Tubbs, adding a fresh dynamic to the series. Mortensen's character was tragically killed when a deal went sour, adding a layer of drama and tension to the series. This role showcased Mortensen's ability to portray complex and layered characters, hinting at the successful career that was to follow.

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11

Liam Neeson: The Irish Philanthropist

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In the third season of "Miami Vice," Liam Neeson played an Irish philanthropist with a dark secret. His character turned out to be a former IRA member and current terrorist, adding a layer of suspense and intrigue to the series. Neeson's performance was compelling and nuanced, showcasing his ability to portray complex characters. This role highlighted Neeson's talent for bringing depth and complexity to his characters, making him a memorable guest star in the series.

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12

Michael Richards: The Sleazy Bookie

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Known for his role as Cosmo Kramer in "Seinfeld," Michael Richards brought his unique comedic style to "Miami Vice." He played a sleazy bookie, adding a touch of humor to the series. Richards' unique inflections and comedic timing made his character a memorable addition to the series. This role showcased Richards' versatility as an actor, proving that he could excel in both comedic and dramatic roles.

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13

Stanley Tucci: The Crime Lord

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Stanley Tucci, known for his diverse roles in film and television, played crime lord Frank Mosca in the third season of "Miami Vice." He had previously appeared on the show as the adoptive father of a smuggled baby, showcasing his range as an actor. As Frank Mosca, Tucci brought a menacing presence to the series, adding a formidable adversary for the protagonists. His performance was praised for its intensity and complexity, making him a standout guest star in the series.

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14

Helena Bonham Carter: The Heroin Addict

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Helena Bonham Carter played Theresa Lyons, a young ER doctor and heroin addict, in "Miami Vice." Her character's relationship with Sonny added a personal and emotional element to the series. As Theresa struggled with her addiction, she was drawn to Sonny, leading to a complicated and tumultuous relationship. Bonham Carter's performance was praised for its depth and emotional intensity, making her character a memorable addition to the series.

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15

Richard Jenkins: The DEA Agent

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Richard Jenkins, a future Oscar nominee, as DEA Agent Ed Waters. His character added an extra layer of law enforcement to the series, providing a different perspective on the war on drugs. Jenkins' performance was praised for its authenticity and depth, showcasing his ability to portray complex characters. His role in the series highlighted the challenges and complexities of law enforcement, adding a realistic element to the series.

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16

Laurence Fishburne: The Prison Guard

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Laurence Fishburne, then known as Larry, played a prison guard who was part of an in-house drug operation. His character's duplicity added a twist to the series, showcasing the corruption within the prison system. Fishburne's performance was praised for its intensity and complexity, making his character a memorable addition to the series. This role showcased Fishburne's ability to portray morally ambiguous characters, hinting at the successful career that was to follow.

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17

John Turturro: The Pimp

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John Turturro made his television series debut in "Miami Vice" as a pimp. His character added a gritty element to the series' portrayal of the Miami underworld. Turturro's performance was praised for its authenticity and intensity, showcasing his ability to portray complex characters. His role in the series highlighted the darker side of Miami, adding a realistic element to the series.

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18

Ed O'Neill: The Undercover FBI Agent

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Ed O'Neill, known for his role in "Married... With Children," starred as undercover FBI agent Artie Lawson in Miami Vice. His character's expertise with semi-automatic weapons added an action-packed element to the series. O'Neill's performance was praised for its intensity and authenticity, showcasing his ability to portray complex characters. His role in the series highlighted the dangers and complexities of undercover work, adding a realistic element to the series.

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19

Bill Paxton and Wesley Snipes: The Love Triangle

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Bill Paxton, as Vic Romano, falls in love with a prostitute, much to the dismay of a pimp named Silk, played by Wesley Snipes. Their love triangle added a personal drama to the series. Paxton's performance was praised for its emotional depth, while Snipes' portrayal of Silk added a menacing element to the series. This storyline showcased the personal conflicts that can arise in the world of crime, adding a human element to the series.

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20

Oliver Platt: The Arms Dealer

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Oliver Platt played arms dealer Speed Stiles. His character added an international element to the series' portrayal of the Miami underworld. Platt's performance was praised for its intensity and complexity, showcasing his ability to portray complex characters. His role in the series highlighted the global nature of the arms trade, adding a realistic element to the series.

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21

Michael Madsen and Terry O'Quinn: The Drug Dealer and His Lawyer

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Michael Madsen played drug dealer Sally Alvarado, with Terry O'Quinn (known for "Lost") as his lawyer. Their characters added a legal twist to the series, showcasing the complex relationship between crime and the law. Madsen's performance was praised for its intensity and authenticity, while O'Quinn's portrayal of a lawyer added a realistic element to the series. This storyline showcased the legal complexities of the war on drugs, adding a realistic element to the series.

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22

John Leguizamo: The Vengeful Son

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John Leguizamo, known for his dynamic and energetic performances, had a recurring role in "Miami Vice" that left a lasting impression. He portrayed the vengeful son of the Vice squad's main target, Calderone. Leguizamo's character was driven by a personal vendetta, seeking justice for his family against the backdrop of Miami's criminal underworld. With his intense and emotionally charged portrayal, Leguizamo added a palpable sense of danger and raw emotion to the series.

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23

Ving Rhames: The Hostage and The Criminal

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Ving Rhames played a hapless man held hostage in one season and then a hardened criminal with a brilliant flat-top in another. His characters showcased a range of roles in the series, from innocent victims to ruthless criminals. Rhames' performances were praised for their intensity and authenticity, showcasing his ability to portray complex characters. His roles in the series highlighted the unpredictable nature of the Miami underworld, adding a realistic element to the series.

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24

Ian McShane: The General

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Ian McShane appeared in "Miami Vice" as a General who plans on leaving his country, betraying the drug dealers who funded his rise to power. His character added a political element to the series, showcasing the complex relationship between politics and crime. McShane's performance was praised for its intensity and complexity, showcasing his ability to portray complex characters. His role in the series highlighted the political complexities of the war on drugs, adding a realistic element to the series.

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25

Chris Rock: The Records Clerk

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Chris Rock made his first television appearance in "Miami Vice" as an eager young records clerk. His character's research into UFOs and aliens added a sci-fi twist to the series. Rock's performance was praised for its humor and authenticity, showcasing his ability to bring levity to serious situations. His role in the series highlighted the diverse range of characters in the "Miami Vice" universe, adding a unique element to the series.

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26

Pam Grier: The NYPD Detective

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Pam Grier, known for her roles in blaxploitation films in the 1970s, had a recurring role as Valerie Gordon, an NYPD Detective. Her character was an on-again, off-again love interest for Tubbs, adding a romantic subplot to the series. Grier's performance was praised for its intensity and authenticity, showcasing her ability to portray strong, independent women. Her role in the series highlighted the challenges faced by women in law enforcement, adding a realistic element to the series.

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27

Frank Zappa: The Persistent Character

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Frank Zappa, known for his music, made a surprise appearance on "Miami Vice." He played an intimidatingly persistent character hell-bent on recovering a large sum of money. Zappa's performance was praised for its intensity and uniqueness, showcasing his ability to portray complex characters. His role in the series added an element of unpredictability, highlighting the diverse range of characters in the Miami Vice universe.

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28

Harry Shearer: The Mysterious Character

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Harry Shearer, known for his voice work on "The Simpsons," made an appearance in "Miami Vice," where his character was involved in a mysterious case involving a stolen canister containing the priceless semen of a prized bull. Shearer's performance was praised for its humor and uniqueness, showcasing his ability to bring levity to serious situations.

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