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A few days ago in Part 1 of this series we covered some of Sebastian Stan’s earlier, and lesser known roles that involved a lot of eye-acting. Today in Part 2, we focus on some of the roles that helped bring his name to your lips.
A short lived series on NBC, Kings was a modern, alternate-reality retelling of the story of David and Goliath. Sebastian played the crown prince of Gilboa, Jack Benjamin, King Silas Benjamin’s troubled, closeted, playboy son, who serves as the counterpart to the biblical Jonathan.
Sebastian portrays Jack as an extremely nuanced character, in a show that didn’t entirely deserve such a stellar performance from him. Aside from Jack and Ian McShane’s scenery chewing Silas, most roles never seemed to reach their full potential. This may have been Stan at his best.
And of course, there were tears. Quite a few of them. In moments of self realization, in moments with his lover, in moments where he felt lost. But the most powerful came in the series pilot episode, when he Jack is confronted by his father on the steps of their home. Their argument comes to a head, and Silas quietly reveals that he knows what Jack is hiding.
In this scene, the younger Benjamin fights to hold back tears, his face stoic though his eyes betray him. It isn’t until Silas leaves his son that Jack allows his tears to fall, but only for a moment. And once he allows himself a second of weakness, he puts on his mask once again.
Rating: When Jack Benjamin cries, you cry. Six out of six misty eyes.
Once upon a time, ABC’s Once Upon a Time was worth watching. Sure, it was saccharine and campy as heck, but there was a certain level of joy that came from watching it. I can’t speak to the show anymore, I stopped watching about two episodes in. But during season one and season two, Sebastian played a recurring character by the name of Jefferson, who was also known as the Mad Hatter (much to his chagrin).
Jefferson’s arc was heartbreaking and one of the few to see an end. In the fairy tale, he and his daughter, Grace, live a meager but happy life. However, when Evil Queen Regina gets her claws into him and convinces him to take her to Wonderland, he remains trapped there, unable to get back to his daughter. In Storybrooke (where all the fairy tale characters live, but with no knowledge of their past), he is the only one cursed with remembering who he is, and watches from afar while his daughter lives happily with another family.
It’s all very hokey and if anyone besides Disney had done something like this they would be laughed off of televisions everywhere. But no one does fairy tales like Disney, and no one does tragic camp like Sebastian. The particular scenes that make my bottom lip go all wibbly are when it dawns on Jefferson that he will remain trapped in Wonderland, declaring that he promised Grace that he would be home in time for tea, and his and Grace’s reunion in Storybrooke once everyone’s memories are returned to them.
Fathers who have loving relationships with their daughters always have me searching for the tissues.
Rating: Weeping quietly into your tea. Four teary eyes.
The USA Network’s miniseries following Elaine Barrish (played phenomenally by Sigourney Weaver) and her family, including ex-husband Bud Hammond, as she navigates the political landscape in D.C. was a critic and fan favourite. Elaine’s ascent to power within the State Department is reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s career, complete with adulterous husband who used to be President. Elaine and her husband have twin boys – Douglas and T.J. Hammond, and Sebastian plays the latter.
Douglas seems to be following in the footsteps of his parents, serving as Chief of Staff in the White House. T.J. on the other hand is the tragic homosexual character (a trope done to death and I will be happy to never see it again), who struggles with addiction, self worth, and wanting to make a name for himself in ways that aren’t attached to his family.
Sebastian has a lot of moments as T.J. that are some of the best acted scenes in the series. In a role that seems awfully similar to his role as Jack Benjamin in Kings, Sebastian channels raw pain for his portrayal of T.J. His most tear filled and tear inducing moment comes in the show’s fourth episode, when the details of his earlier mentioned suicide attempt are revealed.
T.J. has been having an affair with a closeted Republican congressman, and the congressman is blackmailed by the White House into supporting a bill lest they reveal the affair. Naturally, the relationship is over and T.J. is distraught – he thought that the congressman would leave his wife for him. T.J. stumbles out to the garage, after consuming the majority of a bottle of vodka and gets into a car, rolls down the windows, and starts the engine.
The moment after T.J. starts the engine of the vehicle, he crumbles. Up until now, he’s seem somewhat composed, sure of what he’s doing. Now he seems broken, just absolutely devastated both by the end of his relationship, and the prospect of ending his life. He lets out a heart wrenching sob before the scene ends. Some time later, his mother finds him in the garage before it’s too late, saving his life – though later on in the episode T.J. makes it very clear that he wishes that she hadn’t.
Rating: THERE IS NOT ENOUGH KLEENEX IN THE WORLD. ALL OF THE TEARS FROM ALL OF THE EYES.
Though we’ve covered six of Sebastian’s teary eyed roles, there are many more! Have we missed your favourite? Let us know in the comments!
Current Obsessions: Megan is a freelance writer from Canada, who was born on one coast and now lives on the other. Her day job is at a local research university, but she’s eagerly awaiting the day when she can focus on her writing full time. Though she’s a 90’s girl, she has an inexplicable fondness for the 80’s. She’s been watching hockey since she was in diapers, and will immediately shut down any mansplaining of the sport. She misses the snow in winter, right up until there’s some on the ground for longer than a week, then she longs for summer. Megan is a self-identified habitual ruckus causer and feminist tornado, though asking those close to her would confirm these descriptions.
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