Every show has its unsung heroes. You know the ones: tertiary characters or recurring stars who steal every scene they’re in but get decidedly less attention than those higher up on the call sheet.
This fall, actors like Melissa McCarthy, Julie Benz, and Will Arnett are getting the mainstream recognition they deserve. The Zap2it staff rounded up our favorite supporting cast members who deserve to have their faces on those bus stop posters and billboards next year.
I’ll admit it… I hated Arielle Kebbel on “Gilmore Girls.” She was so boring, and as Dean’s oh-so-needy eighteen-year-old wife, she just got in the way of… well, everything.
Dean and Rory 4-EVA! Ahem. Since spectacularly dumping Dean while all of Stars Hollow watched from Luke’s Diner, Kebbel has gone from meek and mousy to totally magnetic.
She’s recently been making the vampire rounds, with a memorable role on “The Vampire Diaries” and as a con-artist vixen on “True Blood.” This fall, she’ll play a bartender on my new favorite show, “Life Unexpected,” and I’m thrilled to see her again, but this girl deserves to lead a show, not pop in to stir things up before leaving or getting killed off. She was awesome in “The Uninvited,” and that underrated role should’ve led to more high-profile gigs.
Because I’m narrow-minded, I’ll stick with the vampire theme. Let’s face it — even if he sucked, Steven R. McQueen could probably get by on his famous name. Fortunately for us, he’s got the goods to back up the moniker. I love McQueen as Jeremy on “The Vampire Diaries,” but as a relatively normal (if extraordinarily angsty) high school kid, he’s constantly in the shadow of those vampires and werewolves.
If Jeremy doesn’t survive Season 2 — and let’s be honest, no one is safe in Mystic Falls – I’d love to see him as the lead in his own action-packed CW show. His star turn in this summer’s unexpectedly awesome “Piranha 3-D” has made quite a splash, and I’ve got no doubt that McQueen is bound for big things. It doesn’t hurt that he’s one of the nicest guys in TV. It’s always refreshing when good things happen to good people.
Ethan Peck: Have you seen him? More importantly, have you heard him? His resonant baritone strikes the perfect note to get our innards all vibrate-y. Let’s cast him in a verbose Aaron Sorkin drama or perhaps as a youthful senator with a penchant for filibusters. The grandson of screen legend Gregory Peck, Ethan certainly has that leading man quality, and now that “10 Things I Hate About You” is dead, it’s time to graduate from Padua High and enter higher learning of network TV stardom.
Amy Acker: Joss Whedon isn’t the only one to see greatness in the “Dollhouse” alum. We adore her wiry strength, expressive eyes and sweet smile and remember fondly her incredibly frightening (and arousing) performance as alter ego Illyria on “Angel.” Her talents lay in nuance and character, so we’d love to see her in another rich drama that lets us get to know another facet of her talent.
John Cho: After headlining two series that never saw the light of TV airwaves, it’s time Cho is given the chance at a meaty leading role that combines his talents in both comedy and drama. He’s done a good job lately of avoiding stereotypical Asian roles, and we think he should push it even more with an outrageous and brash antihero. Let’s get Showtime on the phone.
Michael Trevino, “The Vampire Diaries“: Admittedly we did not jump on the initial TVD bandwagon when the series premiered on The CW last season, namely because my TV viewing plate is well, too full, and we felt like we would’ve been cheating on first loves “True Blood” and “The Twilight Saga” series. But unlike vampires I was able to see the light and realize I have enough love — er — blood in my heart for all three vamp phenoms.
Becoming a “Vampire Diaries” convert was super easy when go-to gal-for-all-things-TVD Carina Adly MacKenzie a.k.a. Cadlymack joined Zap2it full time. Obviously, it goes without saying the show hit casting pay dirt with the incomparable lead trio of Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley. However the show’s resident werewolf Michael Trevino is the one to watch and the one we want to watch more.
Trevino had sparse screen time during Season 1, but it was evident during the moments we did experience Trevino that he’s clearly a star in the making. We couldn’t be more thrilled about his soon-to-be-seen expanded role for “Vampire Diaries” sophomore season. Trevino’s not only easy on the eyes but also possesses the charm and charisma which could easily carry him to leading man status. (Editor’s note: Observations from viewing raw footage of his many interviews with Zap2it). We applaud and welcome Trevino’s (or as we like to refer to him — TV’s Taylor Lautner) juicier storyline. “Vampire Diaries” DVR Season 2 pass. Check. Trevino Werewolf Spin-Off. Check.
Katie Cassidy, “Gossip Girl” (formerly of “Melrose Place” 2.0): Katie Cassidy could be hired to just read the “Gossip Girl” book series on screen — or the dictionary for that matter — and we’d still be transfixed while viewing. Fortunately, that’s not the case and Cassidy joins “Gossip Girl” for a multi-episode arc where the character she’s portraying will be doing more of what she did best on the “Melrose Place” reboot — harbor secrets and stir up trouble. (Oh, and did we mention she’ll do it all while looking like a flawless fashionista we’ve grown mildly obsessed with).
Cassidy may have naturally had a leg up on industry recognition by just being the daughter of David Cassidy (you know that “Partridge Family” guy). Luckily, the girl doesn’t have to rest on name cred alone because she can bring it!
Cassidy’s an uber-talented actress who was steadily working prior to Season 1 of “Melrose Place” on such series as “Supernatural” and “Harper’s Island.” However, Katie Cassidy’s breakout role as Ella Simms on The CW’s now-canceled MP is the role which turned “Cassidy: The actress” into “Cassidy: The rising star”.
Interesting coincidence that this year The CW network hired Katie Cassidy to join a Monday drama as a “special guest star-esque” char
acter to boost a series which some argue (not me) is experiencing signs of fatique and/or growing pains. Sound familiar. Ironically, all eyeballs (well, maybe not all or we wouldn’t be writing this sentence) were on Heather Locklear‘s super-hyped return to the “MP” reboot when in actuality the show was creatively saving itself during the second half of the season with the emergence and unspoken recognition of Katie Cassidy’s Ella Simms as the show’s lead actress rather then ensemble player.
Though it’s pointless now to look back on, “What went wrong with Melrose Place 2.0?” it’s a safe bet she’d probably already be filming “MP” Season 2 had the reboot kicked off like the premiere of the second half of Season 1. Now after Katie steals some thunder from our other favorite “Gossip Girl” stars during her guest stint, lets hope one of the networks race to scoop Cassidy up and finally put the actress where she belongs: Front and center on a series of her own.
“Pretty Little Liars” has a pattern — male characters leaving for new shows. First Julian Morris left for “My Generation” and then Bryce Johnson left for “Lone Star.” We think Ian Harding could be next. He’s shown considerable acting chops, and he’s fairly easy on the eyes. I’m hot for teacher getting his own show. As a weird dark horse choice, “Weeds” star Alexander Gould should definitely have his own show when the “Weeds” drugs run out. His transformation and growth as Shane Botwin has been amazing to watch.
To give the ladies a little love, I think Ginnifer Goodwin is an unsung hero of “Big Love.” Her relationship with her de facto son Ben has been one of the most interesting and compelling storylines in the show’s run. When it ends, I hope to see her starring in her own piece.
TV being a (mostly) youth-obsessed business, it’s unlikely that a network suit somewhere is saying “Get me John Slattery.” More’s the pity, because after watching him steal scene after scene on “Mad Men” for three-plus seasons, I’m absolutely convinced he could carry a show. Perhaps there’s a Showtime-like family dramedy kicking around somewhere; if not, someone should write one.
The moment that “The Office” ends, a studio and/or network should give Mindy Kaling carte blanche to create a new series. She’s written some of “The Office’s” best episodes (“Niagara,” “The Injury,” “Ben Franklin”), and she deserves a shot running her own show. And if she should want to act in said show, that’d be cool too — she’s grown tremendously as a performer over the course of the show’s run.
Portia de Rossi has been part of two great comedy ensembles — “Arrested Development” and “Better Off Ted” — in the recent past, so we know she plays extremely well with others. We’d like to see what she and her expert timing could do at the center of a show.
“Lost” stars Terry O’Quinn and Michael Emerson have said they’ve been kicking around some script ideas so they could work together again. If the TV gods are benevolent, this idea will come to fruition sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, our fearless Nerd Herd leader is great and all, but when Brandon Routh came to “Chuck” last season we suddenly found that we weren’t too keen on Chuck and Sarah after all. We like him so much we’re still giving him the benefit of the doubt even though he’s gone evil. After all, Sarah did kill his wife.
Describing Routh as “calm” and “capable” might not sound like the most exciting of accolades, but we’d also describe George Clooney, Gregory Peck and Matt Damon the same way. Throw in “bemused” for good measure and we’re happily watching week after week.
The loss of “Ugly Betty” still cuts me pretty deep. It’s been comforting to see much of the cast find new homes on TV for the upcoming season — even if the thought of getting America Ferrera back on the tube is a total pipe dream — but two of the series’ most valuable players are still sitting on the bench. Michael Urie and Ana Ortiz are both masters of physical comedy and dynamic enough to be heartbreakingly sincere when needed. Either could carry their own comedy. Both probably should.
Looking back a little further… Emma Caulfield was the left field “Buffy” alum I thought I’d see the most of. But I’ve barely seen her at all. Her cutting remarks and literal interpretations as “Anya” lightened the heavy load of the series’ darker, later seasons. News of her addition to “Life Unexpected,” fantastic as it may be, is not good enough. Don’t believe me? Just rent her 2009 romantic comedy “TiMER.” She’s America’s unrealized sweetheart.
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Photo Credit: CW/Getty/Getty