TVLine's Performer of the Week: Justin Theroux

THE PERFORMERS | Justin Theroux

THE SHOW | The Leftovers

THE EPISODE | “International Assassin” (Nov. 22, 2015)

THE PERFORMANCE | After The Leftovers had Kevin’s one-night stand “depart” mid-tryst and gave him Patti as the world’s worst imaginary friend, we would have wagered that we had seen Theroux do it all. And, if you’ll recall, do it well. But we would have lost that bet in a big way.

As the drama out-Twin Peaks’d Twin Peaks at its weirdest with this week’s “International Assassin,” the actor — criminally overlooked thus far by the Emmys — miraculously grounded the episode in reality by playing not only his deceased character’s incredulity at the bizarreness of his purgatory but also by keeping a laser focus on the sanity-or-madness, life-or-death stakes of his situation.

So we weren’t just horrified for Kevin when he realized that, in order to be rid of Patti, he’d have to throw her innocent younger self in a well, we were horrified right along with him. (Pretty sure the reason we’re still having trouble swallowing is the stubborn lump we got in our throats when he explained to the little girl that it was hard to kill her because he felt sorry for her.)

By the end of the hour, when Kevin had comforted and then drowned the adult Patti (Ann Dowd, stunning as always), we didn’t just want to give his portrayer Performer of the Week, we wanted to give him a hug. And an Emmy. First, though, that hug.

Master of None

Master of None

HONORABLE MENTION | The brilliance of Master of None‘s fourth installment, “Indians on TV,” goes well beyond the writing. Though it’d be a crime to ignore Aziz Ansari‘s script, it’s Ansari the actor who really made this episode work. As a writer, he explored bigotry in an industry that can’t stop making the same mistakes. But as an actor, he expertly conveyed just how such bigotry washes over a non-white entertainer. He addresses a loud topic without ever giving a loud performance. Through the character of Dev, he spends an entire episode conflicted by a moral crisis with no fix in sight, and though he perfectly exudes the perplexity someone in Dev’s position would face, he is also able to illustrate the burden of knowing that change can only come when those in power are ready to accept it.

Crazy Ex-GirlfriendHONORABLE MENTION | When we first recognized Rachel Bloom in October for her work on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, it was largely due to the zany, bubbly likability that she brought to protagonist Rebecca Bunch. Just a few weeks later, we feel compelled to recognize The CW comedy’s leading lady once more, this time for showing us a much darker, more complex side of her character. After getting blown off by Josh (who just moved in with his girlfriend), Rebecca went down a rabbit hole of drug use as she tried to cope with her resurfacing depression. In the span of one episode, Bloom expertly navigated Rebecca’s ups and downs, shifting gears from hyperactive to stoned to downright desperate. It was Rebecca’s most complicated hour thus far — and easily Bloom’s finest.

Which performances knocked your socks off this week? Hit the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Edward says:

    I would give an honorable mention to Ann Dowd just for that Jeopardy monologue alone. She was the perfect sparring partner for Justin.

  2. Micha says:

    Now he’s married to Jen her “I deserve an Oscar” mantra turns into his “I deserve and Emmy” mantra? And there PR will push it to the hilt for sure. The conceit from these two will make for entertaining tabloid fodder. Wonder how often they fight each other to the mirror?

  3. kat says:

    Hopefully you are waiting to give Krysten Ritter her own week? Or letting more people catch up….

  4. webly3 says:

    Justin Theroux gave an outstanding performance (and the Honorable Mentions also gave fantastic performances). Before I started watching the show, I didn’t think Theroux seemed to be a very good actor, but The Leftovers entirely changed my utterly wrong point of view.

  5. I don’t think the weird ass episode would’ve been nearly as successful without Justin Theroux’s brilliant performance!

  6. Shaun says:

    David Tennant or give me death!Or do Netflix shows not count?

    • militantgod says:

      Master of None is a Netflix show. It came out a week before Jessica Jones so you may see its actors pop up next week.

      • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

        For the purpose of our weekly columns, streaming shows are treated as weekly roll-outs. (For example, “AKA Crush Syndrome” was eligible this Saturday-Friday period.) JESSICA JONES is, for sure, on our radar. —Mgmt.

  7. Magali says:

    Krysten Ritter and David Tennant!!!

  8. Tim says:

    Everyone on The Leftovers is excellent—they deserve to win the SAG award.

  9. Emanuel says:

    I had a feeling Rachel bloom would be mentioned… well deserved!!!

  10. N says:

    Justin was FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Luli says:

    I’m just goin to go ahead and say that Krysten Ritter and Rachael Taylor are the performances of the month. Krysten slayed as Jessica Jones. I need a season 2. Will it come before the Defenders? I sure hope so… cause a season 2 of daredevil is on the way, and I would love I JJ followed suit. (favorite marvel show of all time)

  12. Trogdor7 says:

    Awesome justin got a shout out! Such great work. I cant believe more people arent watching this show. Hopefully this ensemble cast performance speaks louder than the numbers.

  13. B says:

    Hoping that next week you consider Peter Capaldi for the most recent Doctor Who episode (aired 11/28). He has given amazing performances in many episodes, but this one is beyond them all.

  14. liame says:

    Love Justin’s performance.

  15. mahart says:

    Kevin, the split second decision (or not) that he simply interrupted “child-Patty’s”endless stream of self-depracaton and shoves her off the ledge of the well. As my ex said so elquently….no remorse. At least momentarily. What i love about Kevin is despite his terrible conflict, he eventually takes action. Drowning Patty was satisfying…for me.

  16. I completely agree. Justin Theroux is an amazing actor and its high time people noticed. He has me on an emotional rollercoaster every Sunday. The Leftovers and Theroux are delicious!