Chris Messina and the Art of a Strong Supporting Role

6 Jun

The Emmy pre-nomination discussion season continues with a look at supporting actors over at The Hollywood Reporter. This group of individuals might not be the star of their show but they are just as important in many ways.

The one person that I want to focus on from this group is Chris Messina who has been playing these strong supporting roles since his arc on the final season of Six Feet Under as Claire’s love interest Ted. Messina is currently in The Mindy Project and will be returning to The Newsroom as a guest star in July. Just a glance at his IMDb page and his credits from 2012 reveals a variety of roles in both film and TV including ArgoCeleste and Jesse ForeverRuby Sparks and the final season of Damages. Yes they are all supporting parts, but Messina is an actor who has an impact whether he is in two scenes or twenty. 

supporting_actor_hollywood_reporterIn The Mindy Project Messina plays the curmudgeon of the office, he’s bitter about love thanks to his divorce, but beneath this tough cool exterior Danny cares about his co-works and his job as an OB/GYN.  It’s the playful banter with Mindy and the chemistry between these two actors that kept me watching even when the show was having teething problems. Without this dynamic and his performance I might have quit The Mindy Project midseason, but I’m glad that I didn’t as the show has got both stronger and funnier.

One story that has developed as the season progressed and took a strong turn in the finale is that Mindy and Danny have entered ‘will they/won’t they’ territory. This isn’t a surprise as romantic comedies are an obsession of the lead character and they have the whole love/hate opposites attract thing going on. While this could be a tad early as the friendship between Mindy and Danny has more to give before romantic complications set in, the final scene in the season 1 finale made me forget these reservations for a moment as it was crackling with tension. I’m pretty sure this was thanks to Messina and like Mindy I pretty much held my breath when he took her glasses off.


As I’ve been writing this I’ve had Six Feet Under on in the background because it’s been a while since I’ve seen these final episodes. To come in this late to a show like this and leave an impact is hard, but it’s another case of great chemistry and despite Ted and Claire’s fundamental differences (hey he’s a Republican after all) they work as a couple, particularly after Claire’s other less functional relationships. 

Messina recently took part in a Skype chat as part of the DP/30 Emmy Watch series. It’s a long interview (which you can watch below) as he discusses his days on the stage, his dancing ambition, how he landed the part on Six Feet Under just as he was about to give up on Hollywood and his current role in The Mindy Project.

I have no doubt that Chris Messina would be fantastic in a lead role, but there’s also nothing to suggest that these supporting parts are less worthy. As this Hollywood Reporter piece shows (and the supporting comedy actress panel from yesterday) sometimes these supporting characters are more beloved than the title character.  

To quote my friend and Mad Men conversation partner Kerensa Cadenas the reason why Messina is so versatile and why he leaves such an impression is because he’s a “smart brodawg.” He can play cocky, but he has the intellect and charm to back it up.  

Not convinced? Watch the interview below and get back to me.

Images courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter


One Response to “Chris Messina and the Art of a Strong Supporting Role”


  1. Behind the Insta-Scenes: Photos from the Set | TV Ate My Wardrobe - June 17, 2015

    […] on TV might be just what you need as Mindy Kaling dreamed up a short for the series and got the dancing Chris Messina to show off some of his skills in this department. Here are JGL and Messina performing in front of […]

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