Spectacular Small Screen Actors
By Scott Huver
Michele’s given herself a break after initially not feeling “pretty enough” for TV. “Growing up I didn’t see girls that looked like me or a lot of characters I could really relate to,” she says. Seeing Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl changed all that. “I feel very much like Fanny Brice; I understand her.” And Glee offered the chance to pay tribute. “Singing ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ was a big one for me!”
Today she’s the role model: “I’m honored to be showing young girls they don’t need to get that nose job and look exactly like all the other girls—that it’s OK,” says Michele. “When I kind of let my freak flag fly is when I got Glee.”
When Jim Parsons first encountered The Big Bang Theory’s eccentric physicist Dr. Sheldon Cooper in script form, it was love at first quirk. “This is an odd, odd fella who does not conduct himself in everyday situations the way a more average person does,” says Parsons. “What’s so appealing about it is trying to ground those odd reactions of his in reality. He’s an extraordinary creature.”
Parsons turned Sheldon into one of TV’s most distinctive comic characters faster than you can say “Bazinga!” but insists he had no idea the sitcom would become a smash. “The only thing I ever seem to know—and this one was times 10—is that there’s this character I really think I can sing in,” he says.
His flair for comedy emerged in a high school production of Noises Off that prompted howls. “It was the first time I had a very honest connection onstage,” says Parsons. “Through comedy I’ve been able to do things that were more dramatic, actually. I don’t know if the buffer of humor made it more palatable for me to be honest with my emotions onstage or what. Maybe it’s as simple as that I tend to be a kind of awkward individual in real life.”
Not as awkward as his socially impaired scientist—though Parsons admits he’s questioned his own people skills after occasional rushed fan encounters. “More than once I have turned to whoever was with me and said, ‘Was I rude?’” he says. Pals assure him that people probably expect—even want—-an uncomfortable moment with “Sheldon.” “There’s probably a large gamut of odd behavior I could get away with, and they’d brush it off.”
Terry O’Quinn offers a fitting elegy for John Locke, the character he recently bid good-bye to after six seasons on Lost. “He was made of a patchwork of flaws, and I loved them all,” he says, “because in the end I thought he had a good heart.”
O’Quinn so excelled at playing Locke—and later the smoky menace that wore his form—that many fans suffered separation anxiety as his farewell performance arrived. The actor’s still sorting out his own emotions: “I’m not even sure I have a resolved feeling about the whole experience,” he says. “I’m still coming down from that. All of us have had some shell shock, just finishing it up and understanding it’s over. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a character like that again that was so easily fleshed out for me.”
As Locke found his legs, literally and figuratively, O’Quinn’s faith in his own abilities grew as well. “My confidence is a lot stronger,” he says. “I realized I had all these buttons I didn’t know I had. So now I need to find ways to use them.”
PHOTOGRAPHS BY RANDEE ST. NICHOLAS. HAIR BY AARON LIGHT. STYLING BY LAURY SMITH (COLLETTE); MATT SAYLES/AP PHOTO (CRANSTON); STUART PETTICAN/CONTOUR BY GETTY IMAGES (BURRELL); STEVE ERLE. HAIR BY CAMPBELL MCAULEY FOR SOLOARTISTS.COM/CTONICS. MAKEUP BY VANESSA SCALI. STYLING BY DANIEL CAUDILL AT THE WALL GROUP, DRESS BY PORTS 1961. NECKLACE BY LANVIN (HENDRICKS); MATTHIAS CLAMER/WARNER BROS. TELEVISION ENTERTAINMENT (PARSONS); ADAM OLSZEWSKI/CORBIS OUTLINE (MICHELE); JAMES DEVANEY/WIREIMAGE.COM (O’QUINN); CAROLYN COLE/CONTOUR BY GETTY IMAGES (MARGULIES)
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.