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Retroactive Recognition

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https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/retroactive_recognition.jpg
'60s: Ward, West, Williams, some guy.
'70s onwards: "Wait, is that Bruce Lee?!"
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This is what happens when you watch an older work and suddenly realize that a small role is played by an actor who got big well after the performance. You already saw him, but only now recognize him. This usually results when a former bit player finally lands a breakout role. It may also include a few minor roles before their Star-Making Role.

This can sometimes occur across media, when a celebrity in one medium had a brief and less-celebrated career in another.

When you just can't shake the image of the other roles, it's Role Association. If the older work is repackaged to accentuate the actor's later successes, it falls into Billing Displacement.


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