Spot On

For many guest stars, their takeaway moments last long after they leave the series

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Elisha Cuthbert
Role: Reprising her role of Kim Bauer on Fox's "24"
"I had a stomach ache about fitting in again because I'd been gone so long. But as soon as I got there I felt very much at home, especially because it's almost the same crew as it was the first season, so I've known most of them since I was 18. But I wondered if I could play Kim again at this stage in her life. I'm an adult now, and I'm 10 years older. I ended up taking a lot of what Kiefer (Sutherland) does with Jack and applying it to Kim, taking charge of the scenes and being assertive and aggressive rather than reacting. A lot of the crew was like, 'God, it's like watching a little Jack!' That was the best compliment. The only note I got from Kiefer was, 'Don't forget this is "24," so bring your tempo down and get that hushed voice again.' In features, they want you to project more, so I had to remember how to do the other thing."

Colin Hanks
Role: Father Gill, AMC's "Mad Men"
"I got a call that I had been cast for a part, but I had no idea I would be playing a priest. The first day was a little overwhelming because there I am, delivering confession and saying the blessing, and I'm not Catholic so I don't know about these things. But they were really adamant, saying, 'You will say this very, very fast, because you've said it a million times before,' and I've never said this. Ever. Then they said, 'Do you play the guitar?' And I said, 'Kind of.' Then they asked, 'Do you sing?' And I said, 'Um, in the shower.' And the next thing I know I'm being asked to perform a Peter, Paul and Mary song in character."

Meat Loaf
Role: A dying man on Fox's "House"
"I would say 85% of the actors who come on 'House' do a great job of playing somebody ill, and the others are acting ill. I didn't want to go on and act like I was sick, I wanted to be sick. I was working with my acting coach on the part and then one day, I was watching 'Damages' and Ted Danson was in a hospital bed, doing something with his mouth and with his breathing, and I said, 'Perfect!' So I stole that. But once I got on set, I told the crew we couldn't do too many takes of the death scene because I actually thought I was going to die. My chest was killing me, I got so into it. I guess that's method, huh?"

Bob Odenkirk
Role: Attorney Saul Goodman, AMC's "Breaking Bad"
"The most memorable day for me was filming a scene where I was being threatened with having a bullet put in my head and being buried in the middle of nowhere. It was 1:30 a.m., in the middle of the desert, in the middle of a wind storm and a sand storm. I was kneeling in front of a grave, and it was one of those moments where I thought, 'Now, what do I do for a living again? And how did I get here?' I had sand in my mouth and my ears and my eyes, but I had a giant smile on my face, because I was just so happy to be part of this crazy, interesting experience."

Bernadette Peters
Role: Jodie on ABC's "Ugly Betty"
"The character's throwaway lines are so funny, so I loved being there. And the show is beautifully shot, and then you have the costumes ... Patricia Field does the costumes, and one day she gave me something to wear that looked like it came off a kitchen sink. I mean it. It was a spray faucet, but it was from a jewelry designer. Pat makes everything look good, even something outrageous like that. Sadly, I learned a long time ago that everything goes back in the closet and belongs to the show, so I didn't ask if I could keep it."

Carl Reiner
Role: A patient on Fox's "House"
"They called me and asked if I would play an 86-year-old guy, and the day before I had turned 87.  I said, 'Gee, that's a character part. I'm 87, and I don't remember how I behaved at 86. I'll have to look at old pictures.' I played a guy with pancreatic cancer who's asked to deliver his poop to a bunch of doctors. I was very excited to hear Hugh Laurie speak with his native (English) accent. I kept waiting, but the minute he crosses the threshold of the set, he won't do it. He never slipped."

Amy Ryan
Role: Holly Flax, a two-season guest star on NBC's "The Office"
"I did about six episodes last year, and when they asked me to come back to be in the final episode, it wasn't much of an arm twist because it's such a blast. I felt like a dirty secret had been kept from me for 20 years, that you go to work and laugh all day. There was one day when I was standing next to Steve (Carell) and he made this turn of phrase where I couldn't stop laughing. It was like being back in school, that kind of laughter that turns into true sob crying and you think, 'Maybe therapy is in order?' I cried my makeup off and eventually, the camera had to just frame me over the shoulder. It was such a great feeling, that rush of whatever chemical it is."

Eric Stoltz
Role: A serial killer on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy"
"I had just finished directing an episode when Shonda (Rhimes, the show's creator) told me they had written a three-episode character arc for me. I assumed it must be some romantic hero, but no: It was a serial killer. Once again, there I was dealing with the difference between how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. I think the cast was delighted to see their former director chained to a bed by his ankles and hands. There were plenty of tickles and noogies and people resting food on my belly."
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