Best Performances: Inside Denis O'Hare's This Is Us Role | 9/10/2017 | Malcolm Venable
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In a season full of shocking surprises and all-out sobfests, This Is Us kept many a trick up its proverbial sleeve -- part of the reason NBC's drama is nominated for 11 Emmys. One of its most stellar weapons was the veteran actor Denis O'Hare, who had to do the not-enviable job 0f ramping up an already intense family drama in the middle of the season. And though his presence as Jesse, the "friend" of Randall's (Sterling K. Brown) birth father William (Ron Cephas Jones), was brief, his piercing portrayal of an anguished lover abandoned without explanation was outstanding enough to earn him his own Best Guest Actor Emmy nod.

O'Hare entered the fray after the show's Thanksgiving episode -- you know, the one where Randall learned his adopted mom kept the identity of his birth father from him his whole life -- and stunned audiences as a jilted ex who had to make peace with finding his old flame and learning said ex was dying at the same time. "My character Jesse is sitting in an (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting and listening to William talk about how wonderful his life is," O'Hare said in his talk with TV Guide. Jesse was "absorbing all that, knowing that he destroyed my life - that the happier he is, the worse my life is."

Things - Performance - Sense - Composure - Double-whammy

One of the many things that makes his performance so moving is his sense of composure; caught with a double-whammy of Earth-shaking news, O'Hare-as-Jesse remains dignified -- Zen, even, as he reunites with the person who broke his heart and is also living out his last days. And...
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