I really love when actors get a chance to do what they don't usually do. Particularly if they use what we are used to seeing in one context in a completely different way in another context. I still marvel at Lisa Kudrow's work in The Opposite of Sex because the comic timing is still very Phoebe Buffay, but as Lucia, it's Phoebe if she took more seriously how crappy her life truly was.
So you can imagine how intrigued I am that Mekhi Phifer and Bill Pullman are going to be in the next season of Torchwood playing very much against type. Mekhi is playing a CIA agent with a "lethal sense of humor" and Bill is playing a "dangerously clever convicted murderer."
Bill managed to that turn that bland stillness that makes him the quintessential milquetoast nice guy on its head as the schizophrenic father in Igby Goes Down (a film full of amazing performances*), so I can actually see him playing this role quite well.
But though Mekhi has had a more varied career than one might think at first**, he's never really done humor, even dark humor. And he's never really done a genre show or movie, so it'll be nice to see how he approaches the work.
I was already excited for the new series of Torchwood. Now I can barely sit still.
*Seriously, career-best work from Ryan Phillippe, Claire Danes, and Amanda Peet. Peet has this scene where she is looking at herself in the mirror, trying to pull it together. Just…breathtaking. Rent the movie. Run, don't walk.
**His work in O, the film that sets Shakespeare's Othello in an upscale private school, is disgustingly underrated work, for instance, and he was downright charming in This Christmas, a film that is best watched on cable on Saturday when there is nothing else on.