Actor: Gaius Charles
Necessary Roughness Role: Damon Razor, the wannabe Hawks wide receiver, who is dealing with some challenges on and off the field.
Necessary Roughness Assessment: Damon seemed like a sure thing, an athlete the Hawks would have no problem drafting. However, during the scouting combine, his stats were off and he didn’t perform up to expectations. It turned out Razor was experiencing something called Impostor Syndrome. In other words, he didn’t feel like he deserved success so he basically sabotaged himself and his chances to become a Hawk. Plus, facts about his past came to light. He stole someone’s identity so this kid comes with legal and psychological problems. However, the Hawks may take a chance on him anyway.
Where You’ve Seen Him Before: Charles played the incredibly talented and cocky wide receiver, Brian “Smash” Williams on the late great high school football drama, Friday Night Lights. He also had a memorable role in a season 9 episode of NCIS. In “Rekindled,” he played Baltimore detective Jason King, an investigator of arson-related crimes. When Jason was a kid, future very special agent, Tony Dinozzo, saved him from a fire.
TV Goodness recently took part in a press call with Gaius Charles. He talked about his role on Necessary Roughness. Here are six things TV Goodness Learned from the interview:
Warning: Vague Spoilers
1. Playing FNL’s Smash is very different from his latest Necessary Roughness character.
GAIUS CHARLES: I would say that the world of Friday Night Lights and Panther football and Smash and the NFL is a completely different and separate world from the world of Necessary Roughness and Damon Razor and the Hawks. One thing that actually really helped me with that differentiation in my mind was just realizing that this is a totally different show. Totally different style. Totally different genre. Totally different shooting style. So in a sense – yes I have had a fair amount of experience playing TV football you know. But I really saw a completely new character and completely new story. An actor, usually, is always looking for ways to show a new side of them. Or a different kind of range of what they can do. So, because I had the wonderful opportunity of playing Smash, this part came along as something to help me show another side of the coin, so to speak. It helped me show how I can play the really big and, you know, gregarious confident characters. But how I also play a very introverted complicated character who is also trying to find himself.
2. Gaius is all about researching the role. It’s his favorite aspect of playing a new character like Damon.
GAIUS CHARLES: I am really very into research and very into taking notes and calling contacts and people. And picking at brains and asking questions. And the research, to me, is probably one of the most fun aspects of acting because when you have the research down you have a framework to rely on. And then you can really kind of take risks and go places because you grounded all of your research and your understanding of who the character is in a reality that gives you the flexibility to kind of play. And go places that, maybe, you wouldn’t go if you weren’t sure. So I think the research is probably one of my favorite things to do.
3. Gaius felt comfortable on the Necessary Roughness set.
GAIUS CHARLES: It’s challenging going into a guest star role – particularly on an established show because it’s like getting on a moving train. The show is already well oiled. The characters and relationships are established. The rhythm of how things work are established. Usually the director, who is coming in to do the episode — actually I was very fortunate coming on because Kevin Dowling, who is an executive producer, actually directed my episode. So, I didn’t have to kind of learn the set and learn the new director. I just kind of had to join in to that family and that rhythm that is the production. So, that was great. So, I would also say another positive thing was, just being able to get to work with people who were very gracious and helped me to just find my way. Which is a real blessing.
4. Putting on the uniform and pads was easier this time around.
GAIUS CHARLES: I remember when I did the pilot for [Friday Night Lights]. I hadn’t played high school football, and so, the pads were bulky and trying to figure out how they all work and trying to get into gear, so to speak. And so, returning to the field to portray Damon Razor on Necessary Roughness was actually, the learning curve was much shorter.
5. The relationship between Damon and TK will be more friendly than antagonistic.
GAIUS CHARLES: It’s easy to see the rivalry between these two wide receivers. What ends up happening is you get more of sort of a friendship that develops and almost a brotherhood develops. And in a sense that’s grounded in reality because I am entering this new fraternity that is the New York Hawks and TK is my guide. You know, Damon’s guide. And so, just as much as Damon is processing and figuring out how to deal with his past, he is also learning how to deal with his present with TK.
6. Shooting the Damon/TK race scene in “Wide Deceiver” was a great experience.
GAIUS CHARLES: That was really great because it was at the end of the day. When you shoot TV film as I am sure most folks know, is that you shoot one location that whole day. Or you try to shoot out that location in a day so all the stuff in the dome was shot in the same day. So, all of like the catching scenes, where he is doing the drills and the gauntlet, all of that was shot in the same day. But at the end of the day, we shot the race scene. And, you know, I hadn’t really – I don’t think I worked with Mehcad Brooks. I think that was my first scene with him. Yes, that was my first scene with him because before that I was just with the other combine actors. So, it was just kind of cool to have that first introduction of working with him. Honestly, I was really looking forward to the kind of rapport that we would have and everything. It was really interesting too because having played Smash and now looking at TK, there was a thing in my mind where I had to be like, okay – remember you are Damon. Because the Smash wants to come out, you know. But it’s like ‘okay wait a minute, you know, you are Damon now.’ Okay I got it. And so, the race was cool because it was, like I said, our first initial sort of meeting on screen. And, you know, just setting off that rivalry and that relationship was a lot of fun.
Gaius’ second Necessary Roughness episode airs tonight at 10/9c on USA Network.
Answers edited for continunity and space.