Even When They're Bad Guys, I Like Them

Of course, it could make a
difference that I met Ted Levine
as Captain Stottlemeyer before
I watched Silence of the Lambs.
When I watched the first season of Without a Trace, I despised Anthony LaPaglia's character Jack Malone. I thought I would never like the actor in anything.

Then I saw Anthony LaPaglia as Simon Moon in Fraiser. He was hilarious!

Still, Anthony LaPaglia as Malone and Anthony LaPaglia as Simon remain entirely separate in my mind.

And then there's the amazing John Noble who always chills me. And John Glover, who always kind of creeps me out. And let's face it: they play chilling and creepy characters.

Every now and again, however, there's an actor I love no matter what role that actor plays: bad, good, whatever.

Here are three examples:

David Zayas makes appearances as a good guy and a bad guy, namely the talkative landlord in Person of Interest and an episode's murderer in Elementary. I adore him. I love his voice. He could show up as an elevator man, and I would be happy. (And yes, I even like him as the unlikable politician on Blue Bloods.)

Bruce Altman was one of Law & Order's regulars. He also shows up in Elementary. He tends to play ambiguous, sometimes amoral characters. He always strikes me as subtly sympathetic, no matter whom he plays.

And yes, he is also a politician on Blue Bloods (hmmm, I'm beginning to note a pattern here).

Ato Essandoh--who was born in my birth place of Schenectady, New York--is a fantastic actor. He plays Elementary's Alfredo, Sherlock's first sponsor and a definite good guy. On Blue Bloods, he plays Reverend Potter.

Reverend Potter is not exactly a bad guy. The writers give him more complexity than that. I generally dislike manipulative political characters (in real life too). With Essandoh, I listen a little closer because, well, it's Essandoh. He has this captivating warmth that fills the role.

People who hire actors for even minor parts are well-aware of their reputations and prior roles. Whom they hire communicates a long-term vision or desired effect: do they want us to secretly love the character no matter what? That means something.

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