You might have seen these actors before, but you haven't seen their best work yet. You will soon.
Perky and perfect, Amanda Peet moves through NBC's much-anticipated Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip with purposeful abandon. Watching Peet eat up the scenery of this Aaron Sorkin series about life on a struggling live sketch comedy show is delicious and delightful, particularly when she (as just-hired network television president Jordan McDeere) shifts from cute to cutthroat on cue. Peet first came to us as one half of Jack & Jill, the romantic series that never heated up. Since then, the 34-year-old actress with a history - not drama - degree from Columbia University has roamed about the film world, appearing in big mainstreamers like Something's Gotta Give and The Whole Nine Yards (and its sequel). The latter two films are where Peet first worked with Matthew Perry, and her ability to dance step-for-step with the fast-hoofing Perry on Studio 60 merely proves her versatility. In what could be the best new series of the fall season, Peet looks to be in her element: the smart girl with sex appeal.
No matter the character he's playing, Jeremy Sisto possesses an innate ability to reach for darkness and complexity and come up with a handful. He acts from the inside out, always suffering some sort of chronic heartache. His latest role is on NBC's Kidnapped, as a freelance bounty hunter who thinks very little of the status quo and even less of the FBI's ability to find their own car keys. With his road-weary face covered by a prickly, ungroomed beard, Sisto is the ultimate moody hero, a flawed guy with great abilities. Sisto, 31, was busy during the '90s, with minor but important roles in Grand Canyon, Clueless, and White Squall. He landed on the miniseries Jesus (as Jesus) before later hitting pay dirt with his portrayal of the extremely creepy Billy on HBO's Six Feet Under.M Since then, he's played a bewildered and victimized traveler in Wrong Turn; Holly Hunter's recovering boyfriend in Thirteen; and the title role of another miniseries, TNT's Caesar, in which he endured that famously vicious scene involving betrayal and knives. For Sisto, that was a good day.
That mysterious air hovering over Anne Heche like a storm cloud has always been part of her appeal, along with, of course, a sly, impish grin that manages to ooze out a certain simmering sexiness. Her offscreen life aside, hers is a natural acting ability that may or may not stem from her, well, unique and well-publicized personality. Either way, Heche is often able to pull off a wide range of roles with relative ease, whether it's playing a political manipulator with Dustin Hoffman in Wag the Dog or a feuding castaway with Harrison Ford in Six Days Seven Nights. Heche, 37, finally has a project all her own with ABC's Men in Trees, and time to snuggle into a character. (Did you catch her on Everwood? Nice warm-up.) She plays an author specializing in romance techniques and the gender wars who finds herself stranded in man-crowded Alaska after a book signing. What makes Heche a natural is that she's natural, starting with her delicate features and coy little smile. It's disarming enough to make you forget who she is in that particular moment. Like magic.
Tia Mowry's initial calling card of notoriety was, to be gentle, a gimmick. Mowry has a sister, Tamera, born two minutes before her, and the two were a cute-as-kittens tag team on Sister, Sister, the adolescent sitcom that ran for a number of years, first on ABC and then on the WB. She doesn't need a gimmick anymore. In the CW's The Game, a comedy about women and the professional football players they fawn over, Mowry, 28, plays an ambitious med-school student and sports novice who just happens to be in love with her college beau, now a third-string wide receiver on a professional football team. Unsure of how to proceed - love him too much and smother him, or give him too much space and lose him to a more vigilant suitor - she's clearly in over her head. That's never been a problem for Mowry: She retains much of the smoothness, timing, and likability that made her so appealing in Sister, Sister. And she still possesses that girl-next-door quality, but with a hint of a cerebral vibe. She conveys intelligent innocence with an emotional candor that can't possibly be taught.
Few actors lend such instant distinction and credibility to projects as Delroy Lindo does. Fewer pull it off by merely walking into a room. Lindo does so delectably in Kidnapped, the tense new NBC drama, in his role as a veteran FBI agent whose retirement is rudely interrupted by a sensitive case. With his large, powerfully lean frame, sad eyes, and expressive face, Lindo offers up quite the visual feast. The 53-year-old actor is able to shift between ire and graciousness without a hitch, and this has become a trademark of the characters he plays, whether it’s an ingenious criminal in Get Shorty, a jaded angel in A Life Less Ordinary, or a troubled foreman in The Cider House Rules. Lindo has a way of making every character deeper than it was written on paper. His television roles have been mostly movies — as the flamboyant Negro League star Satchel Paige in HBO’s Soul of the Game, the dignified explorer Matthew Henson in TNT’s Glory & Honor, and tortured Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in Showtime’s Strange Justice. The idea of catching Lindo on a weekly basis seems just about perfect.