New ‘Virgin River’ Cast Member John Allen Nelson Had a Brief But Memorable Role in ‘Friends’
A major Virgin River mystery has been solved. The two-part Christmas special dropped on Netflix on Nov. 30, and it revealed the answer to the question fans have been asking for months: Who is Mel Monroe’s biological father? The man in question – played by John Allen Nelson – wasn’t anyone we’ve seen before on the show, but if his face looks familiar, there’s a good reason. Nelson’s long career includes roles in a popular soap opera, an iconic 1990s TV show, and a brief appearance in one of the most popular sitcoms in TV history.
[Warning: This article contains spoilers for Virgin River Season 5 Episodes 11-12.]
Who is Mel’s dad on ‘Virgin River’?
Virgin River Season 5’s mid-season finale ended with a shocking revelation: The man Mel (Alexandra Breckenridge) believed was her father wasn’t actually her biological dad. Decades earlier, Mel’s late mother had a relationship with a man in Virgin River, and some just-discovered letters suggested he was Mel’s father.
In the Christmas episodes, Mel and Jack (Martin Henderson) set out to find her bio dad. A series of clues led them to a man named Everett Reid (Nelson). Mel visited him at his cabin, but he told her he wasn’t the man she was searching for. Mel knew he was her father and was disappointed by his rejection, though she was happy just to know who he was. But Everett eventually had a change of heart that led him to reach out to Mel and admit that he had known her mother. He also has something important to tell Mel, but the episode ended before he revealed anything.
Fortunately, it sounds like we’ll get some answers about Everett’s secret in Virgin River’s next season.
“It’s definitely a bit of a bombshell for their relationship and it’s something that informs a lot of what’s happening in season 6,” showrunner Patrick Sean Smith told Decider.
John Allen Nelson played Monica’s boyfriend in the first episode of ‘Friends’
Smith’s comments suggest we’ll be seeing more of Nelson when Virgin River returns to Netflix for its sixth season. It’s just the latest role for the 64-year-old actor, who has appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows over the past four decades.
Nelson started out with appearances on soaps such as Loving and The Edge of Night and was the first actor to play Warren Lockridge on Santa Barbara. In 1988, he starred in the cult horror movie Killer Klowns From Outer Space. On Baywatch, he played lifeguard John Cort. More recently, he’s appeared in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Castle, and Criminal Minds.
But for many Virgin River fans, Nelson’s most memorable role will be his 1994 appearance in Friends. He played Monica Geller’s (Courteney Cox) co-worker Paul, the Wine Guy, in the first episode of the NBC sitcom.
John Allen Nelson called his friends character ‘a cad’
Nelson’s Friends character is a sommelier at the restaurant where Monica works as a sous chef. In the pilot, the two go on a date. Monica sleeps with him after he tells her a sob story about his ex-wife cheating on him. Later, she learns that she’s fallen for a ruse he’s used on multiple other women. The character is an obvious jerk, which appealed to Nelson when he read the script.
“I thought, What a lark,” he told BuzzFeed News in 2017. “What a cad, to bed a beautiful woman that way. That’s pretty sneaky.”
Paul the Wine Guy was never seen after the Friends pilot. But Nelson said he was happy to be linked to one of the most beloved shows in history.
“When you come in as a one-off, it’s a lot of fun, especially when something takes off like that,” he said. “Television is such a cutthroat industry and it’s so hard to keep shows on the air, so when something can transcend that, it’s because it’s either groundbreaking or the combination of writing and actors is so stellar that people can’t get enough.”
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