10 Actors to Watch & Why: Part One

In this special series, I will be talking about some of the actors and actresses that I think are very underrated and deserve a shot at the big leagues. There are even 5 on my list that I think are one role away from winning an Oscar. So sit back and hopefully you will recognize some of these names as I present 10 Actors to Watch Part One (10-6).

Name: Jason O’Mara
Born: 6 August 1972, Dublin, Ireland
Credits: Life on Mars (US), The Agency

Interest: Jason has the ability to be a leading man without really trying. His dashing good looks and charisma just resonates in everything he does. He played a secret agent for the CIA in CBS’s The Agency and a cop without a clue in the very underrated US version of Life on Mars. He just has the ability to take charge whenever he is on screen.

It really is a shame that Life on Mars got canceled but at least we got a pseudo-ending for the show. It’s just the hero image he projected in that show really needs to break-out into something else. He makes a wicked hero!

Future projects: It was just announced that Jason will be making a jump to the big screen in the third Resident Evil film Afterlife with Milla Jovovich next year. He originated the role in 2007’s Extinction.

What he needs to succeed: What Jason needs is an action franchise. He needs a film like Bourne or an action-adventure series like say The Transporter. Someone should introduce him to Luc Besson, Guy Ritchie or Matthew Vaughn.

Name: Kevin McKidd
Born: 9 August 1973, Elgin, Moray, Scotland, UK
Credits: HBO’s Rome, Journeyman, Grey’s Anatomy

Interest: I was a huge fan of Rome and Kevin’s Lucius Vorenus was my favorite character. He was just so good in the role of a tormented Roman legionaire.

Then came Journeyman, which was hands down one of the best shows of 2007, where Kevin stars as a man unstuck in time. It was Time Traveler’s Wife meets Quantum Leap. That last scene of the pilot still brings a tear to my eye everytime.

Kevin has a unique ability to meld into the surroundings of a project or take the reigns and make the project his own. Under any less actor both Rome and Journeyman would have been a far lesser show. The compassion and intensity his character had in Journeyman has crossed over into his stint on Grey’s.

Future projects: He’ll be back in Season Six of Grey’s Anatomy. And it looks like McKidd’s Owen Hunt and Sandra Oh’s Cristina Yang will be getting even closer this year, according to the former, although something arises from Hunt’s past that may throw a wrench in the matter. McKidd is also going to be starring in the fantasy Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and in the thriller Catwalk.

What he needs to succeed: Kevin McKidd is on the verge of a major break in his career and being on a high-profile show like Grey’s will help him find what he needs.

Special note: He was also one of Kenneth Branagh’s top five choices to play Marvel comics Thor. I can’t imagine what would have happened if he did that movie. But for me it kind of reminds me of what happened when Clive Owen turned down James Bond.

Name: Joel Gretsch
Born: 20 December 1963, St. Cloud, Minnesota, USA
Credits: Taken, The 4400, United States of Tara

Interest: I have been watching Joel for a while now. Ever since I saw in Steven Spielberg’s Taken. Joel is one of those rugged leading men who just pop up in the craziest of places being that guest star who outshines a TV show’s lead.

His first real lead role in a major TV series was with USA Network’s underappreciated 4400 which was canceled quickly and quietly before fans had a chance to react. Joel’s detective in that series showed alot of what Joel can bring to the table in regards to his complexity. His character could have been just the run-of-the-mill goodie but because he was so good his character seemed to be more and more expanded as the series went on. His affair with a woman who can create fantasy worlds or his son who has a connection to the 4400. Joel was brilliant in the show.

Future projects: Joel’s continuing his career in the sci-fi genre when he joins ABC’s ambitious new TV series based on the mini-series V. He’ll play Father Jack Landry, a conflicted priest who has to explain and help his congregation deal with the alien arrival. Early reviews say Joel is brilliant in the role.

What he needs to succeed: If V is a success then Joel will be able to finally branch out into more mainstream roles. He is your classic example as a great character actor in the making and I am sure he will be doing it on the big screen very soon.

Name: Mark Valley
Born: 24 December 1964, Ogdensburg, New York, USA
Credits: Keen Eddie, Boston Legal, Fringe

Interest: Mark Valley started out on the soap Days of Our Lives until he started moving into guest-starring roles and eventually lead roles in Pasadena (with Dana Delany) and ER. Then he moved into the title role in the the quickly forgotten but brilliant Keen Eddie with Sienna Miller. He played a cocky New York cop assigned to a British precinct to solve a murder. And as Sienna went off to sleep with Jude Law, Mark dropped into another lead role in Boston Legal. But lately he has turned up as Olivia’s dead boyfriend in Fringe.

Future projects: His next project will take alot of bullet dodging including from the critics as he takes on the title role of The Human Target on FOX this winter. The role was originally played by Rick Springfield in the mid 90s but with an update and Oscar nominee Jackie Earle Haley added for good measure this version seems to have a better shot.

What he needs to succeed: Human Target needs to get out the starting gate big! And it needs to deliver in both story and action if that can happen Mark might just make the jump to big leagues sooner than we think. Like Jason O’Mara, Mark needs an action series that works!

Special note: Wouldnt it be cool if Joel Gretsch and Mark played brothers on something. That would be perfect casting.

Name: Alex O’Loughlin
Born: August 1975, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Credits: The Shield, Moonlight

Interest: Alex O’Loughlin’s turn as a vamp-detective in Moonlight was brilliant. He had the ability to make us all forget that there was another vamp-detective named Angel. The series forbidden love story rivaled that of Buffy as well but it was Alex who showed us there was life after Buffy. I had almost forgotten about Alex after Moonlight was canceled but then I caught his guest-starring role on Criminal Minds and I knew he wasnt going anywhere. He played against type as this reclusive OCD serial killer who gives the team a run for its money. He showed alot of confidence, risk and depth in that role so I knew that should be his audition tape for anything else he does.

Future projects: He has a new series this fall called Three Rivers, where he plays a debonaire transplant surgeon who will stop at nothing to save lives. The show is stuck in a fall schedule full of medical dramas which doesnt bold well for its success. On a better note, Alex is making his way to the big screen in a big way. He’s going to be in the Kate Beckinsale thriller Whiteout and will star with Jennifer Lopez in her comeback romantic comedy The Back-Up Plan. He is the male lead!

What he needs to succeed: My guess is that 2010’s The Back-Up Plan will put Jennifer Lopez back in the public eye and Alex will be right there alongside her. Hopefully that starring role will launch him into other high profile projects.

Watch for Part Two tomorrow and 10 Actresses starting Monday.

4 thoughts on “10 Actors to Watch & Why: Part One

  1. Thank you for including Alex O’Loughlin in your ‘Actors to Watch & Why’ article. Alex is a very talented actor who is on the verge of becoming a true star. I completely agree that his portrayal of Vincent on Criminal Minds could easily be an audition for ANY type of character in the future. He completely lost himself in the character and made you care for a serial killer and sad when he died. His new tv show, Three Rivers, is going to be a wonderful show about a very important subject: organ donation. Can’t wait for it’s premier on CBS on Oct 4th. As you mentioned….the world is going to truly discover Alex in his co-starring role as Stan in The Back Up Plan with Jennifer Lopez. I am proud to be a loyal fan of Alex O’Loughlin!

    1. I am a fan of Alex as well. I wouldnt say my fandom is anywhere close to yours but I will be buying the Moonlight DVD set and sharing it with friends. Hope you’ll read the blog for other stuff too. 🙂

  2. Great choices and I like the way you broke it all down with the Need to Suceed. When I read your wish for Joel Gretsch and Mark Valley to one day play brothers, I nodded because of the resemblance, the antagonist role on “4400” and the fact that Joel’s father-in-law, William Shatner, played Mark’s quirky boss in “Boston Legal”.

    May I use and link to your article at Mark-Valley.com?

    1. Hi Dana,

      Thanks for you comment. Please do use my article on the site. Just do a link or throw please dont copy the whole thing. Lot of hard work went into making this series. As for them playing brothers it would be genius casting. Maybe they’ll do it on Human Target. Sometimes you just run into actors who look so much a like that you know they should be brothers. Another example is The Unit’s Max Martini and 24’s Jeffrey Nordling.

      Hope you will keep reading the blog,

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