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Jamie McShane's acting career heads down new 'Passage'

Rick Bentley, Tribune News Service on

Published in Entertainment News

LOS ANGELES -- Character actor Jamie McShane's latest addition to the 131 roles he's played in television and film is the new Fox sci-fi/drama "The Passage." He knows people might recognize his face from his work on "Bloodline" or "Bosch," but many won't know his name.

He's OK with that because McShane brings the same unflinching drive as an actor that he had in his younger days when he was playing sports and striving to be the best, first at hockey and then tennis.

"I got very good at hockey but then I got hurt," McShane says. "It was a random injury that meant I couldn't play contact sports anymore. I had always wanted to be an actor from a young age. After I got hurt, I realized that life was not going to go the way I wanted. So I used the same creativity and discipline I had with sports to get into acting."

"The Passage," premiering Monday, is based on the trilogy of the same name from author Justin Cronin. The series' focus is Project NOAH, a secret medical facility where scientists are experimenting with a dangerous virus that could lead to the cure for all disease. There's one big catch: It also carries the potential to wipe out the human race.

A federal agent (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) is assigned to bring in a young girl (Saniyya Sidney) who has been selected to be a test subject. He decides to take on the role of surrogate father and looks for ways to protect her from the fate that has befallen McShane's character. He's a former scientist who has become a powerful, mind-controlling, blood-drinking creature because of the virus.

Also starring in "The Passage" are Caroline Chikezie, Henry Ian Cusick, Vincent Piazza, Brianne Howey, McKinley Belcher III and Emmanuelle Chriqui.

McShane doesn't understand why he has been able to work so much over the past two-plus decades while other actors struggle. His only explanation is the massive amount of determination he has for every role that starts with the first audition.

"I prepare immensely for every audition because I have got to get the job," McShane says. "Every single audition, I have to do my best. I have never had that moment where I decided to give up the idea of an acting career except when I was living in New Jersey and driving a truck all day while I tried to get acting work.

"I would slam my head on the steering wheel and cry and say 'Let me quit, let me quit.' But I never could. Once I started getting costarring and guest-starring roles it was never a thought of not wanting to do this anymore. It was always 'Where is the next job?'"

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That question was answered repeatedly for McShane in 2017, a year he calls the most fulfilling in his career. He worked on two feature films and 26 episodes of television programs, including "Bosch" and "Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G." at the same time.

He had never played a character before who had the mental capability to tap into other people and control other people. McShane's take on the scientist/creature is he never wanted to be turned but has decided to play the cards he's been dealt. And he's playing the character as having some sinister fun.

McShane's found the role fascinating and is excited to see where it's going to go.

Had the original plans for "The Passage" continued, McShane could have gone completely unnoticed by the audience. That's because he would have been hidden by his character's ghoulish look.

"They went with heavy prosthetics at first, and then they decided I was too unrecognizable as myself, so they went to just painting it on," McShane says. "It takes probably two, two and a half hours, and then getting it all off takes a bit as well, unless they decide I keep it on or something."

'THE PASSAGE'

9 p.m./8 p.m. Central Monday, Fox

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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