Michael Emerson is one of those actors in serious danger of being
typecast. He won an Emmy for his intensely creepy performance as Ben
Linus on Lost
. Before that, he won an Emmy for his guest appearance on The Practice
as a serial killer. So naturally, Parenthood has cast him as a children's party entertainer.
Emerson makes his first post-Lost
television appearance tonight as the Amazing Andy, a bug enthusiast with Aspergers syndrome on Parenthood
(10pm on NBC). It's an unusual role for the gifted actor, but it could also be the one he needs to transition himself out of Lost
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, the Braverman's throw a birthday party for their son Max, who also has Aspergers. Since the kid loves bugs, they hire the Amazing Andy and His Wonderful World of Bugs, an insect presentation hosted by Emerson's character. Within the show, the storyline helps the family accept that people with Aspergers can lead productive and independent lives.
More importantly, it gives Lost
fans a chance to see a new side of Emerson. I'll admit that the first time he shows up on Parenthood
, it's impossible not to associate him with Ben Linus. Driving up in a giant bug car, it was impossible not to be creeped out. But by the end of the episode, Emerson finds a way to escape his previous roles and make the Amazing Andy a sympathetic and relatable figure.
Perhaps this is how best to break out of being typecast as the terrifying villain. Parenthood
gives Emerson the chance to still utilize his quirky movements and clipped speech pattern, but it also lets him be vulnerable and empathetic. Think of this performance as a palette cleanser for Emerson's career.
It's certainly going to be hard to break free of the Lost
universe. Daniel Dae Kim makes it look easy by starring on a new hit show, Hawaii Five-0
, and Jorge Garcia has easily gone into comedy with How I Met Your Mother
and Mr. Sunshine
, but most actors have a more difficult time moving on after starring in such a high-profile show. It's even harder when you play an iconic and strong character like Emerson did. But after seeing him as a bug expert with Aspergers, Emerson's range of roles will definitely expand.(Image courtesy of NBC)