TVLine's Performer of the Week: Matthew Lillard

The BridgeA weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Matthew Lillard

THE SHOW | The Bridge

THE AIRDATE | Sept. 11, 2013

THE PERFORMANCE Shaggy’s no joke anymore. Matthew Lillard, best known for playing Scooby-Doo’s attitude-adjusted pal, has turned his coke-addled, alcoholic Daniel Frye into the most sympathetic character on The Bridge.  In a show led by the phenomenal Diane Kruger and Demian Bichir, Lillard stands out for his ability to make his man-child journalist at once relatable, contemptible and pitiable.

Lillard’s two scenes this week were the gin-soaked cherry on top of a terrific season of work. In the first, an off-the-wagon Daniel comes clean to his coworker Adriana (Emily Rios, Breaking Bad) about his involvement in the hit-and-run death of Big Bad David Tate’s wife and son. Drunk and emotional, he tells Adriana that she is his only friend. We were left awe-struck by Lillard’s capacity to take Daniel to rock bottom, show true remorse for his mistakes, and then, almost wordlessly, realize how far he has fallen.

The next time we see Daniel, he’s at an AA meeting, thanking another participant for making his own life seem less depressing. This scene allows Lillard to show off his comedic skills, and then transition at break-neck speed into a blubbering mess. In that moment, we feel deeply for Daniel, making his kidnapping and possible murder by Tate all the more heartbreaking. If there’s one character we most want to see cross The Bridge into greener pastures, it’s Daniel Frye — and that’s all thanks to Lillard’s performance.

HONORABLE MENTIONS Rookie Blue‘s Missy Peregrym for her emotionally stirring work in a moment of crisis during the bullet-ridden season finale. As Andy recounted a tender moment in their relationship to wounded ex-boyfriend Sam, Peregrym brought to life the confusion and realization of what Andy was feeling for him. But even as she tried to stay strong and push back the tears during that ambulance ride, her panic and fear was palpable. Andy may be a rookie cop, but Peregrym is a pro when it comes to pulling on our heartstrings…. Burn Notice‘s Sharon Gless for making the utterly unrelatable scenario of a mother electing to sit on a bomb nonetheless hit home for all of us. As the spy drama’s very final hour unspooled, we knew a death was coming — we were braced for it — yet Gless’ performance still blew us away, as Maddie beseeched her son Michael, over the phone, to allow her this grand, selfless gesture. She cried, Michael cried, Jesse cried. And so did we.

What performance knocked your socks off this week? Sound off below!