TV

Here’s to Michael Trucco, Jeff Hephner’s shared greatness

image: SyFy

Remember that time Michael Trucco was a badass? Of course you do because that’s like every day. Ever since he became a sci-fi name as Sam Anders in Battlestar Galactica he’s been one of TV’s toughest guys. The same could be said for Jeff Hephner, who got everything but the kitchen sink thrown at him as John Case in Agent X and took it all with a smile. And these two action heroes happen to share June 22 as their birthday.

If you’re an action TV fan, Michael and Jeff represent two significant points in the genre.

The former is one of those actors who quietly snuck up the ladder of action over the course of his career. His first TV series regular role was as a Naval lieutenant in Pensacola: Wings of Gold, his recurring character on One Tree Hill was a professional race car driver, and then came Battlestar where he busted out as the Cylon that was more human than most humans. Take a look at that picture above and tell me that’s not cool.

Even on the wrong side of the coin – see Revenge, Criminal Minds and that episode of Intelligence – he’s proven that he can kick ass and take names.

It’s something that’s been in his wheelhouse all along, and it’s become part of his arsenal as much as anything else. Michael is like the reliable starting pitcher in the major league rotation of action TV. He may not get the awards or the attention, but he doesn’t care. He goes out and mows down the other team anyway. For the last two decades and counting he’s been one of the most reliable performers when action roles have come calling.

The complete opposite of that is Jeff Hephner. Almost nobody saw him coming as an action star before Agent X, which means almost everybody got it wrong. It wasn’t just that he was doing an action role; he was doing an action role on steroids. An action role that would make lesser men cry. When he stepped up to the genre plate, he stepped up big.

And it really, really worked. Aside from his status as another terribly undervalued actor, Hephner redefined what we can and should expect from our action heroes. He wasn’t trying to be tough or to carry out some predefined notion of who John Case was supposed to be. He just showed up and threw himself into the part, and ultimately he shone through in the character and that’s why we loved the character.

He’s laid down a new direction for the action genre to go in the future. You don’t necessarily have to cast the guy who looks a certain way or who has a certain set of skills. Cast the guy who’s willing to take the leap, the one who doesn’t mind if he gets hurt, the one that really, truly gives a damn about being the hero you’re asking him to be.

If Agent X did anything hopefully it will open up the doors for previously unconsidered actors to take more action roles – including Jeff Hephner.

That’s what makes today worth celebrating. On this day we gained two actors who made significant contributions to the way we think about action on TV. One of them has done it steadily over his whole career; another just now had the chance to bust out and prove his talent. Both of them know how to make TV pop.

What’s their secret? It could be because they’re naturally adventurous people. Both Michael and Jeff are guys who aren’t afraid to take life, let alone the next acting role, by the horns and see what happens. I’ve spent the last five years alongside them and I’m constantly inspired by their energy and the way they just go after things. They don’t let anything get in their way – so no wonder they’re out saving the world. It’s just a natural extension of who they already are.

And yes, if you know these birthday posts by now, I have a song for that too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vN4fMl_gezU

 

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Brittany Frederick

Brittany Frederick is an award-winning entertainment and sports journalist, screenwriter, and novelist. She was named an honorary analyst for Section 20 (#StrikeBack), and when she's not working with TV heroes, you can find her trying to be one in real life on the Verizon IndyCar Series. You can reach her at her official website (brittany-frederick.com) and on Twitter @tvbrittanyf.

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