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Hulu’s ‘No Exit’ Proves Dennis Haysbert Is A Lot More Than Just The Guy From Allstate

Decider.com
Decider.com
 2022-02-26
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If you had access to television between the years 2003 and 2015, then you’re surely familiar with the many Allstate commercials featuring a stoic-looking gentleman in a crisp suit who would solemnly address the camera, asking in a deep, soothing voice, “Are you in good hands?”

That voice belongs to actor Dennis Haysbert, and while many still know him as “the Allstate guy,” Haysbert’s acting career spans four decades, and he’s been consistently hitting it out of the park. Take, for example, his most recent film, No Exit, a thriller that was released on Hulu on Friday. Based on the 2017 novel of the same name by Taylor Adams, No Exit follows a young woman named Darby (played by actor Havana Rose Liu) who is stranded with four strangers at a rest stop in the mountains in the middle of a blizzard. Then Darby discovers a kidnapped child in one of the vans in the parking lot—and suddenly everyone at that rest stop becomes a suspect.

Haysbert stars as one of those suspects, a former Marine named Ed, who was on his way to Reno with his wife, Sandi (played by the great Dale Dickey) when they got caught in the snowstorm. Or at least, that’s what he says.

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Photo: 20th Century Studios

But though director Damien Power successfully casts suspicion on everyone early on, you can’t help but find Haysbert’s presence reassuring. He has an authoritative air of morality that you immediately trust, despite his weakness for gambling. Haysbert imbues his character with a quiet sense of right and wrong, so that even though we never see anything from Ed’s life outside of this visitor center, you can feel the truth of his military backstory.

Despite the severity of the situation, Haysbert finds small moments for humor, too—like when Ed, fed up with one character’s odd behavior, snaps to his wife, “I’ve known plenty of that guy. Weird little white boys with a chip on their shoulder.” It’s funny because it’s accurate, and Haysbert’s exasperated delivery made me laugh out loud.

It’s far from the first time that Haysbert has delivered an exemplary performance over the course of his career, and, yes, I’m including the Allstate commercials in that. After all, one does not become a ubiquitous company spokesperson without being very good at one’s job. But No Exit is a good reminder that Haysbert is much more than merely “the Allstate guy,” and indeed has been much more than that since before he ever started selling insurance. For example, in 1993 Haysbert starred in a bizarre but critically acclaimed art film for the 1994 Cannes Film Festival called Suture, in which he played a man who agreed to swap identities with his identical brother. In 2002, he starred as the gardener, Raymond Deagan, in the period drama Far From Heaven, alongside Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid—a role that earned him multiple award nominations for Best Supporting Actor. And 24 fans know Haysbert as David Palmer, while Lucifer fans no doubt know him as God.

None of this is to say that commercial acting—and very good commercial acting, at that—is not respectable work. But the year is 2022, and Dennis Haysbert just gave us another incredible performance in No Exit on Hulu. It feels high time we stopped calling him “the Allstate guy” and started calling him Dennis Haysbert… even if we are in good hands.

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