Posted by: Kristen Hicks | April 4, 2013

The Astounding Jim Beaver

I recently made a case to a friend that Jim Beaver had played some role in so many of the best tv shows in the last few years that Mad Men best find a place for him or risk becoming obsolete. Ok, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration and Mad Men’s probably gonna continue to be awesome even if they don’t find a way to fit Jim Beaver into those Sterling Draper Pryce offices (or just Sterling Draper now, is it?), but seriously wouldn’t this show, and most others, be improved by his presence?

I’m glad to see I’m not the only one to notice his ubiquitous ability to improve upon already entertaining tv shows. The AVClub wrote about how what defines a Jim Beaver role is the eagerness of writers to take a perhaps simplistic character and add considerable depth once they realize what they have in the actor playing him. They offer up the examples of Sheriff Parlow on Justified – who ends up becoming a much more fascinating character as this last season progresses (possibly too late SPOILER ALERT: avoid reading the AVClub article if you’re not caught up), Bobby Singer on Supernatural, and Ellsworth on Deadwood. Each of these characters was originally intended for a smaller or simpler role in the show, but ended up becoming someone special to the plot, the other characters, and the viewers as the shows progressed.

He’s also shown up in smaller roles on a few other shows with varying levels of critical acclaim: Breaking Bad, Dexter, and Big Love; all adding to an extensive imdb page full of impressive character roles played over the last few decades.

In addition, he’s built up a reputation for being one of the actors most inclined to interact directly with fans of the shows he’s on and engage with them in intellectual discussions, as well as provide stories from on set. In turns out that the man who repeatedly plays characters who viewers just wanna hug, off set inhabits the kind of real-life persona that, well, people just wanna hug.

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