TVLine's Performer of the Week: Christopher Eccleston

A weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Christopher Eccleston

THE SHOW | The Leftovers

THE EPISODE | “Two Boats and a Helicopter”

THE AIRDATE | July 13, 2014

THE PERFORMANCE | Characters don’t come much more complicated than Matt Jamison. But luckily, actors don’t come much more capable than his portrayer, either.

Ever since the Great Departure, the reverend has published pamphlets revealing the misdeeds of the “heroes” taken in what he’s certain wasn’t the Rapture. As a result, not only has his flock dwindled, he’s been subjected to regular beatings by the loved ones of those he exposes.

So is Matt a nice guy or nasty? A man of faith or an absolute madman? Eccleston’s performance suggests that the answer is all of the above.

On one hand, the erstwhile Dr. Who plays the preacher as someone who sees himself as being 100 percent right — and righteous. (After signs from God lead him to the jackpot he needs to save his church, he murders the mugger who tries to steal his winnings.) On the other, he’s a total a–hole. (Unhappy with his sister’s opinion, he blabs that her husband was unfaithful.)

In the end, whether you liked Matt or wanted to slug him, you couldn’t come away from the hour without being knocked out by Eccleston. He took a character who sees in black-and-white and beautifully painted him in shades of gray.

Beau BridgesHONORABLE MENTION | The applause for Allison Janney’s work on Masters of Sex — well-deserved, we might add — has been so deafening that, often, it’s felt as if not enough attention was being paid to her leading man, Beau Bridges. But in “Parallax,” there could be no denying the harrowing brilliance of his portrayal of reluctantly gay Barton. First, the veteran actor made us ache as his alter ego awoke, sick and disoriented, following “curative” electroshock therapy. Then, he nearly shattered us when Barton determinedly initiated one of the saddest love scenes ever. “I wanna be with you,” he said, trying to convince himself as much as Margaret. Though Barton’s efforts were for naught, Bridges’ were not. By the hour’s end, he had wrecked us. Bravo.

POTW_GillesMarini_DWHONORABLE MENTION | It took a while for Switched At Birth‘s Angelo Sorrento to get the hang of fatherhood, but, once he did, Gilles Marini showed us a man trying to be the best father he could be — and this week’s flash-forward only reminded us of that, making his death all the more painful to watch. As Angelo coached Bay through her labor pains, Marini reminded us of his comedic prowess, making her (and us) laugh. Later, as he calmed Daphne’s pre-wedding jitters, Marini’s happy tears and fatherly pride spoke volumes of the relationship that could have been… bringing us to tears as well.

What performances rocked your TV set this week? Sound off below and let us know!

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. BetsyBoo says:

    Kiefer and William Devane. Hands down. No disrespect to actors above, but they were sublime.

    • baz2a says:

      Completely agree!!!

    • Emgee says:

      I was about to say the same thing. Devane and Sutherland gave two of the best performances the show ever saw in that finale. From Jack’s brief moment after Kate’s second phone call to Heller’s conversation with the Prime Minister, both performances were PERFECT!

  2. Angi says:

    i think the whole switched at birth cast should’ve gotten an honorable mention and ana golja from degrassi

  3. CJ says:

    I was blown away by Eccleston’s performance on Sunday. Absolutely a masterpiece.

  4. Tiffany Furr says:

    I definitely have to give it to Angelo in Switched at Birth I was in tears and I hated to see him go that was so frustrating bc him and Daphne were becoming very close!!!!!! Will miss his character big time! !!!!!!!

  5. Shaun says:

    WILLIAM DEVANE!!Congrats to Eccleston though,he’s my favorite Who

  6. Eric says:

    I’ve got to go with William Devane. His scene at the end of the finale of “24” has stuck with me all week…

  7. Laura says:

    And that’s why Christopher Eccelston is may favorite Dr. Who! He is an awesome actor and so underrated!

  8. Valerie says:

    The character he portrayed on Doctor Who was “the Doctor.” No one ever comes up and says “oh hey Dr. Who!” Because that is not his name.

    • Kevin H. says:

      Thank you! I know it shouldn’t but it irritates me when US entertainment writers make this mistake. Alas, not everyone can be into Doctor Who or sci-fi.

      • EJ386 says:

        I agree so annoying… I get that not everyone watches, but when you reference a show do it correctly. I thought this week had a lot of strong performances I saw Eccleston, Marini and Sutherland and loved all three.

    • Brittany G says:

      Actually, the official character name from the original series was Dr. Who. As was the billing during Eccleston’s time (watch the credits, it says Doctor Who) as the Doctor. So both are considered correct according to cannon.

      • Alex says:

        Canon. C-a-n-o-n. A cannon is a piece of artillery. And he was not billed as Dr Who or Doctor Who during the entire classic series. Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor, got the credits changed to the Doctor for his run, and they remained through the rest of the classic series. It was changed to Doctor Who for Eccleston, but David Tennant, who knew what he was about on this point at least, made them go back to the Doctor when he started on the show, and there it has remained and hopefully will for the rest of time.

  9. rod says:

    Allison Mack had an amazing scene on Wilfred this week, it blew me away, i knew she could act but even with that one scene it put her on my radar.

  10. Annie says:

    I appreciated Devane’s performance this week in “24” quite a bit – he broke my heart. And I’m certainly no die-hard fan of “Leftovers” (though I liked the book quite a lot). But I have to hand it to Eccleston, whom I barely recognize in this role. The last episode was his, and he carried it splendidly, with all its variations on a theme of gray.

  11. Patrick Maloney says:

    I totally agree with the recognition Christopher Eccleston got

  12. LAwoman says:

    Beau Bridges gave a heartbreaking performance in that episode. He and Allison Janney are doing great work on Masters.

  13. walfo says:

    Eccleston is an incredible actor. Go check out his back catalogue. There are many sublime performances in that list.

  14. Miranda says:

    Christopher Eccleston is, of course, fantastic!
    Anyone who was having trouble getting into The Leftovers must surely have been blown away by that episode which truly hinged on Eccleston’s incredible performance.
    I’m happy to say he played my favourite Doctor too – and glad to see him get recognized for his performance here.

  15. Seriously? No Kiefer or Devane, even in the honorable mentions? That’s messed up.

  16. dreamlife613 says:

    The scene where Matt Jamison is lying on the fold-out bed and starts weeping really hit me. What a performance. Also, ironic that he tried to help a GR and then ended up getting screwed over by them when they bought his church.

  17. A Fan says:

    There were so many good performances this week, hard to pick just one. Everyone mentioned in the comments section deserves this accolade.

  18. Kathy says:

    Decided to start watching The Leftovers based on this article. Eccleston was my favorite Doctor, so I thought I’d give it a try. The Leftovers is very good, and you were right on target about Eccleston. He’s outstanding in this episode. Thanks for introducing me to this series. Justin Theroux is doing a fab job as well.

  19. Heather says:

    Doctor Who. Not Dr. Who. Come on now…


  21. I think Christopher Eccleston is a wonderful actor. I have not watched this yet, but the preview I have seen of him in this episode is fantastic. He is a great performer.