Even though Carla Gugino‘s filmography started in 1988, many seem to have fallen in love with her after she joined the Flanagan Verse (or Flanaverse as some like to call it) TV series edition with The Haunting of Hill House. After the show’s success, most people realized how talented Gugino is and how well she uses her talent in the horror genre. However, there are plenty of characters in her filmography that deserve to be highlighted.

Whether she was playing everyone’s favorite spy mom, a journalist who seems to be against Sigourney Weaver or a terrifying presence who has come to end an entire lineage, Gugino has a way of captivating audiences and leaving them wanting more of her roles. If you are one of those fans who cannot get enough of her talent, here are her top 5 characters.

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Ingrid Cortez – Spy Kids

Carla Gugino in 'Spy Kids' wearing glasses that read "spy mama."

Most people in their late 20s and early 30s can tell you that growing up all they wanted was the microwave that delivered McDonald’s burgers and fries with only pressing one button. That legendary moment in movie history can be attributed to Spy Kids. This franchise delivered adventure, drama, comedy, delusion, and family bonding time.

Among the long list of characters, we find Ingrid Cortez, who soon became everyone’s favorite spy mom. She was resilient, strong, could kick a**, and brought down the bad guys looking flawlessly beautiful. Truth be told, many queer folks can attribute their queer awakening to Carla Gugino playing this role. 

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Susan Berg – Political Animals

Closeup of Carla Gugino's face smiling on 'Political Animals.'

If she wasn’t saving the world alongside her husband, children, and parents, Carla Gugino was portraying political journalists with interest in one particular family: the Barrish-Hammond. During most of the episodes on Political Animals, Susan Berg seems to be going against Elaine Barrish (Sigourney Weaver), questioning everything she does and the policies she wants to implement.

However, towards the end of the series, it seems Berg and Barrish are coming together for an unlikely alliance. The show allowed both Gugino and Weaver to play strong characters that showed why it’s so important to give women the opportunity to play powerful roles.

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Jessie – Gerald’s Game

Carla Gugino handcuffed to a bed in 'Gerald's Game.'

Even though the Flanagan Verse for many began with The Haunting of Hill House, Carla Gugino collaborated with Mike Flanagan before when she played the role of Jessie in Gerald’s Game alongside Bruce Greenwood. Although Greenwood dies not long after the movie starts and only comes back as part of Jessie’s delusions or hallucinations, the pair did a fantastic job bringing this psychological thriller to life.

Most of Gugino’s work is done while handcuffed to a bed, proving that her talent goes beyond the action she showcased in Spy Kids. The moment she skins her hand to remove the handcuffs is probably seared in everyone’s mind, and it is one of Gugino’s best scenes in her filmography.

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Olivia Crain – The Haunting of Hill House

Closeup of Carla Gugino's face on 'The Haunting of Hill House.'

The Haunting of Hill House launched the incredible success of the Flanagan Verse TV series edition, introducing audiences to several different characters that would both appeal to and terrify them. It was also after the premiere of this show that several horror fans discovered the talent of Carla Gugino and fell in love with Olivia Crain.

Olivia was Gugino playing a different kind of mother from what she had played in the past. There was always something mysterious and enigmatic about her while she simultaneously devoted her life to caring for and loving her children. Her ending is tragic, but her storyline is beautiful.

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Verna – The Fall of the House of Usher

Carla Gugino on 'The Fall of the House of Usher' with short hair and a leather jacket sitting at a table with a glass of liquor.

(Slight spoilers ahead for this series).  The Fall of the House of Usher is another Flanagan masterpiece that thrills and captivates the audience with a talented cast and incredible storytelling. Gugino and Greenwood reunite for this drama, and once again, Greenwood’s character ends up dead — this time after making a deal with Verna. 

Even though every character on the show is interesting and portrayed perfectly, it is Gugino’s Verna that makes the audience stick around. She is always playing the same woman, but she shows up in different ways and carries herself differently depending on who she is interacting with. Verna is sexy, smart, deceiving and terrifying.

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