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Damon Gupton: Here's this fall's supporting actor to get excited about

Last July, I was invited to do press coverage for WEtv’s first original series, The Divide. It was a project that I’m still honored to be associated with, because of the caliber of people that I was able to work with over the show’s entirely too brief run. One of those people was an actor by the name of Damon Gupton, and from the moment I sat down across the table from him, I thought, “This guy is going to be something.”

Really, I was just starting the obvious. Gupton has been consistently turning in top-notch performances, without getting much attention for them. Now he’s snagged another regular role, as Las Vegas detective Cal Brown in NBC’s upcoming drama The Player. Without a doubt, he’s this fall’s supporting actor to watch.

Gupton is one of those performers who continues to get better at his craft with every role that he takes on. It’s as much a pleasure to watch him evolve as it has been to see whatever part he’s currently playing. He’s been doing his best work yet over the past year: He followed up a recurring role on the U.S. adaptation of Rake with a two-episode stint as opposing counsel James Quelling on USA’s Suits.

Now, there have been a lot of enemy lawyers who have crossed Harvey Specter, and about half of them don’t stick in the memory for two reasons: Either the character gets destroyed by the end of their arc, or the actor can’t quite contend with Gabriel Macht, who’s as good an actor as Harvey is a lawyer. Quelling was different; he took a beating (and deservedly so), but credit was due to the Suits writers for giving him a story that also humanized him.

Taking that opportunity and running with it was Gupton, who was able to play both vulnerable and vicious, holding his own in scenes with both Patrick J. Adams and Macht. In one scene, he was getting audiences all verklempt as Quelling confessed all his problems to Mike Ross; in one of his last moments, Harvey threatened to break every bone in Quelling’s body, and Gupton played his character’s position of weakness without letting himself get overpowered. From an acting standpoint, he was one of the most enjoyable lawyers Suits has enlisted.

Then came The Divide, and Gupton outdid that performance and then some. As District Attorney Adam Page, Gupton gave one of the most interesting and complex portrayals of what it means—and what it takes out of you—to be a public servant. The whole time, his character struggled with his family, his beliefs, and realizing that the case on which he’d made his name wasn’t as solid as he’d believed. Like all the characters in The Divide, Adam went through the wringer, but there was never a beat that Gupton didn’t hit.

Those eight episodes showed us what he was really capable of. It goes without saying that actors do their best work when you give them the best resources, and Gupton had gone from the first-class writing on Suits to a show co-created by Academy Award nominee Richard LaGravenese and Scandal‘s Tony Goldwyn (who never gets enough credit for how talented a storyteller he is, but that’s a whole other article). Gupton’s regular scene partners were veteran TV performers Nia Long and Clarke Peters, and Gupton played off both of them wonderfully. With everything at hand, he crafted Adam as a truly compelling character, and emerged as a true leading man.

After The Divide, you might have recognized him as Detective Calvin Walker on FOX’s Empire earlier this year. But it’s The Player that’s going to have you learning Gupton’s name, because once again he’s in a great position. Cal Brown isn’t just the detective caught up in all the action; he’s also the close friend of main character Alex Kane, which means Gupton is working opposite Philip Winchester. There’s already a whole other article detailing how Winchester is the king of underrated TV actors, and when you put two brilliant and similarly hard-working, always watchable people together, good things are going to happen.

The Player also thoroughly benefits from casting Gupton. In so many shows where there’s a mystery arc like this one, the cop character is usually the most underutilized. It’s that person’s job to stand there and be confused about everything that they don’t usually get to really participate in. While we don’t know what’s ahead for Cal, we do know that the man playing him isn’t a passive actor. Whether Cal gets to go along for Alex’s ride or is stuck dealing with his fallout, Gupton is going to find a way to develop him. His casting automatically elevates what could be a thankless character to being someone who matters.

And while this doesn’t count for anything onscreen, it’s always meaningful when a good person gets a great break. Something else Gupton has in common with Winchester is that they’re two of the classiest people one could ask to work with. They’re true gentlemen who make a show better just by being a part of it; having them at the core of a new series is a tremendous foundation.

The result is that everyone’s about to win. Winchester has the best possible partner, audiences will get to enjoy two remarkable actors in one show, and The Player has a secret weapon that hopefully won’t be a secret for much longer. For the last two years, Gupton has proven that he’s got everything it takes to be big—and now he’s in the perfect position for us to take notice.

The Player will air Thursdays this fall on NBC.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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