TVLine's Performer of the Week: Chris Messina

Chris Messina The Mindy Project Season 2A weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Chris Messina

THE SHOW | The Mindy Project

THE EPISODE | “Danny and Mindy”

THE AIRDATE | May 6, 2014

THE PERFORMANCE | We’re used to seeing The Mindy Project‘s Dr. Danny Castellano take charge. We’re accustomed to hearing him grumble about technology, pop culture, celebrity – basically, anything Mindy enjoys. But it’s rare we see him as thoroughly undone as he was during the comedy’s second season finale, and Messina absolutely nailed his character’s desperate desire to convince his co-worker he really loved her.

First there was the Bradley Cooper-inspired scene, which found Messina excelling in a fun bit of physical comedy as he wrestled himself in and out of that blasted “20-piece suit.” Soon after, Messina had to switch it up as he juggled multiple, complex emotions as Danny followed Mindy into the Shulman & Associates ladies’ room: confusion (wasn’t Danny’s gesture exactly the romantic junk Mindy adores?), deep affection (the way Messina gazed at Kaling + him framing her face with his hands = swoon,) frustration (the exasperation in Messina’s voice as he insisted that Min does share his feelings) and vulnerability (it takes true talent to make three words – “This is real” – seem so fraught).

Atop the Empire State Building, Messina capped his stellar episode with exactly the right blend of humor and heart — not to mention a fistful of lustiness (we’ll say it again: Ass grab FTW!) – as he mixed Danny’s staunchly held beliefs (“One kid. One child. One, maximum.”) with a softness that suited him well (“I thought I’d lost you”). Messina, you definitely earned an A for that performance as Dr. C.

RevengeHONORABLE MENTION | Usually, Revenge only asks that Henry Czerny embody the smugness and entitlement of the 1 percent (and he does this so well that it can be difficult to picture him anywhere but in a corner office or on a yacht). But on the rare occasions when the primetime soap turns him loose, holy crap! He’s fantastic! Take, for instance, his thrilling work in “Impetus” this week. When “ungrateful bastard” Charlotte had the nerve to call out father figure Conrad for his laundry list of felonies, his portrayer didn’t just pitch a fit, he exploded with a ferocity that shook the screen! In fact, it was so monumental a scene that, by the time the tycoon was done making threats and bragging about his crimes, he wasn’t the only one who’d been exposed on television. Czerny, too, had been revealed — as the unsung hero behind the series’ most egotistical villain.

unnamed-1HONORABLE MENTION | Arrow fans love Felicity for the way she’s as quick with a quip as Oliver is with his bow, oft speaking on behalf of the audience on the super-crazy happenings around her. But portrayer Emily Bett Rickards this week showed us something else, as Arrow’s No. 1 gal fielded his defeatist “I have failed this city/Tommy/Moira/Shado” speech, then turned it around on him. “You honor the dead by fighting — and you are not done fighting,” she declared. After recounting the rogues gallery he has vanquished thus far — and while acknowledging that she, too, isn’t certain if they’ll beat Slade — she professed, “I know two things: You are not alone. And I believe in you.” And as Rickards displayed Felicity’s plucky resolve, we in turn believed in her.

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  1. Martin says:

    Agree with all of them

  2. Kevin says:

    Emily is AMAZING!!! Every single line of her is much better than everything Laurel has done this season.

    • n says:

      And u had to compare the 2 why? Why not say Sara or Thea. This while laurel “hate” it’s just f#ckin ridiculous

      • Rebecca Parker says:

        Because Sara and Thea are miles better than Laurel, so the comparison wouldn’t hold as much weight.

        And why the Laurel hate? Because she is the one thing not working in an otherwise awesome show.

      • le sigh says:

        It’s because Laurel/KC is thought to be/billed as the female lead. So the comparison is going to be between the two of them.

      • Temperance says:

        I agree. There were times when Cassidy did not completely ring true, but there has been plenty of work, especially lately, that has been really good. The Laurel hate is pretty absurd.

  3. Haley1020 says:

    What about Christa B. Allen, Chris colfer or chord overstreet and Henry should’ve had the performer of the week title this week

    • Robert says:

      I’ll admit that Christa B. Allen was good but the Glee guys, really? Glee has become a total shadow of what it once was. (and I do still watch because I like the music, but usually have to fast forward through most scenes because they are unbearable.) As long as Glee keeps spewing out the same crap writing every week they should never be on this list. (And I don’t blame the actors necessarily, they can only act with what they are given and what they are given belongs in a toilet.)

  4. I would have voted for Vera Farmiga.

    • Kevin says:

      This!!! I don’t know why this season has been getting increasing complaints while the acting is phenomenal and the plot is still as good as season 1, if not better.

    • lululime says:

      I love Vera, but Nestor was the standout in the finale for me.

  5. Claire says:

    Haven’t seen the Mindy Project yet, but agree whole-heartedly with Emily Bett Rickards. Wonderful job! She is definitely the shows #1 gal in my book!

  6. mo says:

    Stana Katic was robbed. Her performance this week was incredible! That moment she got to arrest Bracken was amazing (for that matter, he deserves an honorable mention for the look on his face when she walked in on his interview). The whole, “I found the tape” exchange made my night. Such a great payoff for the entire murder mythology.

  7. Kevin says:

    The closer it is to the finales’ week, the more difficult it is for me to choose a “Performer of the week”. Everyone is bringing out their best.

  8. Amy says:

    So much awesomeness on tv past week, but these three definitely stood out. Loved Conrads little spasm of rage, genius acting. And Iust love Felicity and that speech was amazing. I really thought for a second that she was going to say “I love you” instead of “I believe in you” and even though I would love Felicity and Oliver together I’m glad she didn’t say it, they’re not there yet.

  9. Rebecca Parker says:

    Thank you! I asked for this when the episode aired, and he did indeed kill it. I also agree heartily with the Honorable Mentions.

  10. erin says:

    I agree 100% with Chris Messina and Henry Czerny, both were incredible!

  11. Nicole says:

    Stowe always got the accolades (well deserved) but always thought Czerny was right up there with her in portraying such a ruthless but likable villain in Conrad. Even in defeat he was awesome, having one last drink, buttoning his jacket and smoothing his hair before being led away and his ‘Godspeed’ to Emily to take down Victoria was just delicious. Hope this isn’t the last we see of him.

  12. Trish says:

    I adore Emily Bett Rickards. Watching her in the last episode of Arrow, being giving the opportunity to show us what she’s capable of as an actress, was absolute perfection. This girl is on fire! More, please!

  13. Irene says:

    Emily Bett Rickards is a gem. In an otherwise dark toned and somber show she brings levity, humour and heart with her portrayal of Felicity Smoak. So so hard to believe that she was only meant for one episode and now look how far she has come. Remarkable!

  14. JC1 says:

    EBR was amazing in that scene. Thanks for mentioning her. While I love her quips, I hope the writers give her more of a chance to shine next season and become more than just Oliver’s funny computer girl. I’m looking forward to that promised backstory.

    • Claire says:

      So true, I think she has more than proven she is capable of far more. Look forward to seeing her character growth.

      • anna says:

        There is something I find appealing about how EBR handles her dramatic scenes. She plays Felicity feeling sad/distraught very subtly–which brings an added layer of depth to the character. She never lets it be about her. During this speech, she’s clearly upset, but you see EBR play her as someone who is trying to keep it together, someone who is reigning in her emotions, so that she can stay focused on the mission, and as result, keep Oliver on track (I’m a little done with Oliver giving up and needing pep talks, but I liked this pep talk the best…I just wish it was the only one he was given in the last few episodes).

    • A says:

      I totally agree!

  15. Edward says:

    I know it’s hard to take it seriously but I would at least give an honorable mention to Roselyn Sanchez for her work in Devious Maids this week.

  16. Shar says:

    I’d like to add Courtney Thorne-Smith to the list for her stellar performance of a shunned bride slowly going crazy. Her face plant into the cake was worthy of Carol Burnett or Lucy.

  17. Kat says:

    Chi McBride should have gotten a mention too. The way his character broke down at the car after his daughter got kidnapped and they didn’t find the money broke my heart… it was gut wrenching and SO well played…

  18. Kate says:

    Thanks for giving Emily Bett Rickards a shoutout. That scene between Felicity and Oliver was so emotional. It has even more weight because Felicity is one of two characters who truly know THIS Oliver and the hero journey he is on (the other character, of course, is the criminally underused John Diggle). EBR kills with Felicity’s funny lines, but I really stop and listen when her character speaks from the heart.

    • Hodan says:

      Yeah. I thought Emily was really amazing in scenes lately. You give EBR the material and no matter how bad it is…she will turned into gold.

  19. enri says:

    I wholeheartedly agree…Chris Messina & Emily Bett Rickards were amazing this week.

  20. nikki says:

    I love Henry Czerny. Conrad is the reason why I watch “Revenge”. Hopefully, after “Revenge” is cancelled next year, he will get a role on a “real” show. Like Cable or prestige network shows like “The Good Wife” or “Hannibal”.

  21. Jess says:

    Was hoping Messina would get it this week. He’s so likable and has crazy good chemistry with Kaling. Hopefully any good press will push their third season to more than 15 episodes!

  22. anna says:

    I was really hoping Emily Bett Rickards would get an honorable mention or some recognition for her performance this week. She is just getting better as the show progresses (Stephen Amell, too–his scene when he’s told his baby mama had a miscarriage had so many layers to it). EBR sold that scene without overacting. I wasn’t a fan of the last speech she gave him which housed her backstory two episodes ago, but THIS is the version of Felicity I love–“You are NOT done fighting!” was the perfect line for this moment, and the way she delivered it hit all the right notes.

  23. redjane12 says:

    Chris Messina is a great actor and his performance as Dany Castellano is often hilarious and often affecting…. sometimes both but this season, his chemistry with Mindy has been better than ever… So glad the show got renewed in spite of poor ratings. That was unexpected so thanks Fox!

  24. kath says:

    I’ve been a fan of Henry Czerny for years, he’s a powerful and subtle actor, so I’m glad Revenge finally gave him a chance to show what he can do.

    At the other end of the age spectrum, Emily Bett Rickards has been good as the light and sarcastic Felicity, but this week gave her the opportunity to show that she can do more, and she took off running with it.

    They both earned the acclaim.

  25. An Irrelevant says:

    Oh, gee what a surprise, Michael Emerson wasn’t picked once again. Shocking.

  26. Caroline says:

    I whole heartedly believe that Emily Bett Rickards should get the honors for the best performance. She was fantastic.That scene was awesome! Very emotional full of unsaid feelings.

  27. Caroline says:

    The way Emily(aka Felicity) delivered that speech was one of the most heart felt moments on TV. “You honor THe dead by fighting and you’re not done fighting!” I think Oliver was a Lil taken back

  28. dsm says:

    Chris Messina was really great this episode…

    …on another note, please tell me you are indeed watching Orphan Black. Tatiana Maslany and the entire cast deserve some kudos in these Performer of the Week columns.

    • Cate says:

      It wouldn’t be fair for other actors because Tatiana is so FREAKIN AMAZING she would have to be here every week!

  29. GildedRose says:

    Emily Bett Rickards was fantastic on Arrow this week. Soon as that scene started I was like, Holy Smoke! (no pun intended) She nailed it. I’m absolutely in love with how the writers are writing Felicity Smoak in these last few episodes. She’s been really strong and confident. She’s always been funny, so I think people think she can’t “do” anything else this week really showcased how strong both character and actress are. It’s definitely one of my favorite scenes for Felicity and for Oliver/Felicity… heck, the show. So, so glad she got Honorable Mention. Thanks, TV Line!

  30. Samantha says:

    Emily was truly amazing, she always makes me laugh watching the show but on this episode she made me cry. Such a strong and perfect scene.

  31. lent says:

    Gah i love EBR. Have loved her since her first appearance in ep 3. However i did feel like they didnt make full use of her character potential. Until this episode. So glad the arrow people gave her more chance to shine in this episode and that’s exactly what she did. She took the 3 minutes or so window and sold the crap out of it. Bravo Emily!

  32. A says:

    Danny and Felicity made my TV week for sure

  33. Shannon says:

    Thanks for recognizing EBR! She was fabulous this week!

  34. Madman says:

    Emily Bett Rickards is an outstanding young actress with a bright future ! And her Felicity is an amazing character who gives length to the Arrow show and brings the best out of Oliver and Steohen Amell and to be truth everyone she is working with ! I really hope for her to have a great story in the show and to recognise what an ace up their sleeve she is, and to “use” her like one ! I really wish, both EBR and Felicity, her the best !

  35. Lucy says:

    Emily Bett Rickards was awesome this week. She provided her usual levity, but it was her speech to Oliver that showed just how much this young woman can act. She was spot on and hit all the right notes. While I thought her speech the week before was fine, this one was much better with both the writing and the delivery. EBR continues to show that she can rise above whatever is thrown her way. She can handle the comic elements, but it’s when she has the opportunity to do something else that her real talents. I hope the writers continue to treat us with much more from Miss Smoak because as long as they write it, EBR will deliver.

  36. Jane says:

    i actually teared up when I saw that scene between emily and stephen, it was beautiful and heartbreaking

  37. Lauren says:

    Yay for Emily! She is amazing! It’s crazy to think she’s only 22 and hasn’t had as much acting experience as others on the show but she shines in every scene. She really brings out the best in Stephen; their scenes are always on point. I cannot wait for season 3 to learn more about Felicity’s backstory.

  38. Joey Padron says:

    Chris did great on The Mindy Project season finale. Emily did great on this week’s episode of Arrow. Great picks you guys chose.

  39. Belle says:

    Emily is just amazing!!! She makes the show so much more fun!!! When there’s so much drama going on, she just lights up the mood :p and I love her for it!
    Go Olicity!!

  40. lkh says:

    Maybe it was premature to give Stana Katic POTW in March–Monday night was awesome–one of the best ever episodes of Castle. Hard to predict the future though, huh.

  41. Candace says:

    Messina deserves an EMMY!

  42. EP says:

    Emily was FANTASTIC and really continues to grow as an actress. Really enjoy watching her on Arrow. My favorite Oliver, Diggle and Felicity!!! They really make the show. Congrats to Emily on making Arrow great and cannot wait to see what great things they have for you and the Arrow team in season 3. I think you have won our family over in you and Oliver as a couple too, great chemistry.

  43. Swift says:

    I am still angry Chris Messina did not win or get an emmy nomination for Damages. Highly underrated actor

  44. kt says:

    If the Emmys paid attention to actual stuff that matters, specifically in comedy, buzz would be swirling around Messina right now.

    But alas, that’s not a thing.

    That said, performer of the week on TVline works for me and I agree with it entirely.

  45. Maria says:

    What got me with Emily’s performance is how her lip started to tremble. It was intense her speech to Oliver! Emily Bett Rickards is going places. This girl has knocked all of them off their feet. She to me and others has become the #1 female lead on the show. Just look at all the trending topics about her. There hasn’t been any trending topics on twitter about any other characters I don’t think. Not that twitter is the be all and end all but, that shows us something about how she’s captured people’s attention.

  46. Olivia says:

    What really impresses me is how Emily Bett Rickards is growing as an actress.

    You can actually see how she takes one step after another towards becoming an actress who will go far.

  47. Cassandra says:

    I love Emily Bett Rickards, and I’m so proud of her getting several mentions this week. Felicity is my favorite character on Arrow, and I’m hoping and praying this is the start of filling out her character’s story and letting her spread her wings some more. She has come so far from just a bit player to really becoming the heart of the show, and such a vital part of Oliver’s hero journey.

    Stephen Amell himself has said that they can’t do the show without Felicity, so when the hero speaks, listen up! It’s easy to forget she’s so young and this is her first major role, because she has spectacular comedic timing, along with the dramatic chops to do whatever comes her way. I really hope she has even more to do in season three, because I’m impatiently waiting for it.

    This scene in particular had me in tears, because even when everyone else has given up on Oliver, himself included, she has that unwavering faith in him, and she is not afraid to show it. Their relationship, especially as it has grown, is one of the best parts of the show. Go, Emily!

  48. Sparky says:

    Loved that scene in Arrow between Oliver and Felicity – perfect delivery by Emily in the one-liners that she delivers and this gave her the opportunity to broaden her range and she hit it out of the park. Soo happy for her. Can’t wait to see this weeks finale and what lies in store. Going into S3 I hope the writers give us more of her backstory whether its as Ivo’s daughter or someone else. As long as Team Arrow – Oliver, Diggle and Felicity; stay together and nothing happens to any of them I will be a happy fan!!!

    On a side note considering Laurel is supposed to be Oliver’s leading lady but he seems to have more chemistry with Felicity I wonder is it giving the writers and Katie Cassidy some uncomfortable moments wondering how the Black Canary storyline is going to play out???

  49. NYCER4LIFE says:

    Chris Messina as the Perforner of the Week? Absolutely true. Nailed it! Loved him since he appeared in the final season of SIX FEET UNDER.

  50. Merideth says:

    Absolutely nailed it with performer of the week. I have always admired Chris Messina’s work and loved him as Danny, but this season and in the finale in particular he has been stellar. Funny, moving, and amazing chemistry with Mindy. Great choice! Now lets him an Emmy nom,