The TVLine Performer of the Week: James Roday Rodriguez

James Roday Rodriguez A Million Little Things Season 5 Episode 1

THE PERFORMER James Roday Rodriguez

THE SHOW | A Million Little Things

THE EPISODE |The Last Dance” (Feb. 8, 2023)

THE PERFORMANCE | We’re used to seeing Rodriguez deploy his wry sense of humor and impeccable comedic timing to great effect: In the ABC drama, his Gary is routinely called upon to provide levity when a scene is reaching peak emotional intensity. But we’re not used to seeing him use a moment of easy humor as an access point for his character’s heartbreaking grief — which is why his excellent work in the Season 5 premiere merits special attention.

Midway through the hour, Gary told a story about his recently deceased father. Rodriguez infused the memory with real mirth, his laughter growing louder as Gary recounted a snowball fight from his childhood. But when it looked like Rodriguez was going to have his character succumb to a fit of giggles, the scene took a bittersweet turn and Gary started to sob.

We were very impressed with the way Rodriguez made the hard turn feel so seamless. Gary’s guilt and sorrow overwhelmed him, and his portrayer rode those waves of high emotion in a way that hit hard. Rodriguez’s small choices — the smile that slowly turned into a grimace, the way he ducked his head when it was clear the tears weren’t going to stop, the hand he pulled to his face in a vain attempt to hide — truly made the scene.

It takes a lot of skill — and even more heart — to pull off a moment of such vulnerability. Rodriguez nailed it.

Scroll down to see who scored Honorable Mention shout-outs this week…