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5 Underappreciated TV Actors: Where Are They Now?

April 14th, 2013 1:00pm EDT

Fairly Legal In December, I gave you my list of five TV actors deserving of more notice this year. With 2013 more than a quarter of the way over, it's time to check the results. Where are these talented folks now? Did they get the extra attention they should have? And who else is poised to reach the next level?

1. Michael Trucco
You Know Him From: USA's Fairly Legal, Syfy's Battlestar Galactica
Why He Made The List: He was the MVP of Fairly Legal. While Sarah Shahi was deservedly center stage in the USA original series as mediator Kate Reed, he was her perfect foil as Kate's ex-husband and frequent sounding board Justin Patrick. Michael also deserves credit for making sure that Justin was a complete character in his own right - oftentimes elevating what he was given, especially in the show's revamped second season. Fairly Legal proved that Michael can always be counted on to deliver a good performance, no matter what. He's definite leading-man material, not to mention a writer's dream: the actor who's going to take what you hand him and make the most of it.
Where Is He Now?: Michael had a multi-episode guest arc on ABC's Revenge as Nate Ryan, the brother of recurring character Kenny Ryan. He also recently shot a pilot for the Alphabet Network entitled Killer Women, which reunited him with his Battlestar colleague Tricia Helfer. He plays Billy Parker, the supportive sibling of Helfer's heroine, Texas Ranger Molly Parker. He's also competing in his second Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race as part of the Grand Prix of Long Beach next Saturday. And Fairly Legal Season 2 was released on DVD last week - but so far just as a Target online-only exclusive.

2. James Wolk
You Know Him From: USA's Political Animals, FOX's Lone Star
Why He Made The List: He has a phenomenal natural talent, but still needs that project that's going to make everyone know his name. James stole scenes from Sigourney Weaver as the male lead in Political Animals, but that's no surprise given that he drew dazzling reviews for his performance in Lone Star. He's got charm in spades, but past that, he's an actor whose passion for what he does is obvious with every part he plays. He'll never be accused of phoning it in. His co-workers don't just like him; they rave about him - ask You Again director Andy Fickman. Everyone knows this guy is just waiting for his big moment. James was named BFTV's One to Watch for 2013; you can read my interview with him here.
Where Is He Now?: James appeared in last Sunday's Mad Men premiere episode, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him in future installments this season. He's also one of the leads in the CBS pilot The Crazy Ones, alongside Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar. His character is Zach Cropper, an ad-agency copywriter who works for Williams' character. The comedy comes from producers David E. Kelley and Bill d'Elia, who are also behind TNT's Monday Mornings. You'll also see James in the upcoming film There's Always Woodstock.

3. Mark Valley
You Know Him From: FOX's Human Target, ABC's Boston Legal
Why He Made The List: When it comes to TV, he's pretty much immortal. When one show ends, another one always seems to find him, and it's not hard to see why. Mark combines the physical capability of an action star with the talent of a true actor, making him the complete package. While he can probably break you in several pieces, he's more likely to break your heart by giving his characters much more heart and wit than the average tough guy. He pretty much steals any scene in which he appears. The only question about Mark is if we'll ever find anything he can't do (and I sincerely doubt that).
Where Is He Now?: Mark became the new male lead on ABC's Body of Proof as Detective Tommy Sullivan, the new professional partner - and former lover - of Dr. Megan Hunt. Season three of Body of Proof will be released to DVD in mid-June. Mark also had a cameo in the Oscar-nominated film Zero Dark Thirty. He checked in with me a few weeks ago to talk about his role on Body of Proof; you can read that interview here.

4. Jamie Bamber
You Know Him From: BBC America's Law & Order: UK, Syfy's Battlestar Galactica
Why He Made The List: The immense popularity of Battlestar, and especially his performance, has possibly overshadowed some of the things he's done after Lee Adama. He moved on to play one of the Law & Order franchise's best detective characters, Detective Sergeant Matt Devlin on Law & Order: UK, for five series. It was a caliber of work you don't ordinarily see on a procedural, and his departure from the show still resonates with its fans more than a year after the fact. Audiences embrace every character that he plays. If this man doesn't win a major acting award at some point in his career, there's something wrong with the world.
Where Is He Now?: Jamie stars as neurosurgeon Dr. Tyler Wilson on TNT's Monday Mornings, which just completed its first season. (It has yet to be renewed for season two.) He recently booked a starring role in the upcoming British miniseries The Smoke, where he'll play a firefighter. Previously, he also guest-starred in multiple episodes of TNT's Perception as a romantic interest for Rachael Leigh Cook's character. Before the premiere of Monday Mornings, Jamie took some time to talk with me about joining the medical drama; you can read that interview here.

5. Jason Clarke
You Know Him From: FOX's The Chicago Code, Showtime's Brotherhood
Why He Made The List: He's not so much an actor as he is a force of nature. His performances as hard-charging Chicago cop Jarek Wysocki on The Chicago Code and conflicted Providence politician Tommy Caffee in Brotherhood stand as two of the greatest individual efforts ever seen in dramatic television. Jason's work is breathtakingly intense and wonderfully complex. Whether he's interrogating a suspect or struggling with his own inner demons, he always gets everything he can out of a scene. There's yet to be a superlative that quite captures the "it factor" he definitely possesses. You could have him reading the phone book and it would still be fascinating entertainment.
Where Is He Now?: Jason had a co-starring role alongside Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty, as veteran CIA operator Dan Bradley. You'll also see him in Baz Luhrmann's new version of The Great Gatsby, where he plays George Wilson, the mechanic husband of Myrtle Wilson, who suspects that his wife is having an affair. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Carey Mulligan, and opens in 3D on May 10.

Who's Next?

For every good actor you can name, there are probably five more that are flying under the radar. Nikita star Maggie Q might be front and center as the title character on the CW series, but she deserves to be more widely known for her outstanding combination of fighting skill and acting strength.
The whole team on HBO's The Newsroom delivered a great first season, but keep an eye on Thomas Sadoski. He didn't get near the praise he deserved last time around, possibly because his character started off fairly unlikeable, but by the season finale he'd shown us who the real Don Keefer is. I can't wait to see what he's going to show us in season two.
Harold Perrineau showed off his comedic chops in TBS's one-season wonder Wedding Band. While he's earned a certain amount of attention from his role as Michael on the cult hit Lost, people should look past that and discover his other great roles, including Wedding Band, Leo Banks from ABC's short-lived The Unusuals, and his supporting role in Zero Dark Thirty.
Everyone who watches Suits loves Sarah Rafferty's work as Donna Paulsen, but everyone else ought to love her, too. You could make the argument that the entire cast of the USA original series is underrated, but in particular, it's Sarah who really needs more notice, because she stands out as one of the best actresses on television.
Last but certainly not least, someone should pick up Christian Kane for another TV series now that Leverage has ended. Over the run of the TNT hit series, he proved himself to basically be the Swiss Army Knife of actors: he played comedy, drama, action, romance and even provided a little music. You couldn't have asked for more. Christian's known to Kaniacs, Leverage fans and those who remember him from Angel, but if someone gives him the right show around him, he could take things to a whole other level.
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

Related: Christian Kane, Harold Perrineau, James Wolk, Jamie Bamber, Jason Clarke, Maggie Q, Mark Valley, Michael Trucco, Sarah Rafferty, Thomas Sadoski, Starpulse Exclusives, Television, Comedy, Action & Adventure, Drama, ABC, USA, TNT, The CW

Photo Credits: USA, ABC, TNT, Columbia Pictures, The CW

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