Since NBC‘s making-of-a-musical drama Smash premiered on Monday, the actor I’ve been hearing the most about is Jack Davenport. In a series populated by familiar faces, his stands out—he’s “that guy” you’ve seen in Pirates of the Caribbean and the beloved UK sitcom Coupling. He’s been out of the consciousness for the past few years, after his series Swingtown and FlashForward both failed to amass large followings.
But the tweets I’ve seen in the past few days talk about how Smash is the perfect show for Jack, who plays asshole — but brilliant — director Derek Wills. Indeed, in the pilot he was a snarky, pushy, scruffy artistic genius. As attached as I am to the “who will get the Marilyn role?” question of the season, I’m also excited to see Jack playing what could be at worst a compelling foil and at best could be the perfect role for him.
So, what should you know about this guy before tuning in next week?
1. As a child, he was sent to the prestigious Dragon School in England, which counts among its alumni Emma Watson, Max Irons, Hugh Dancy, and Hugh Laurie.
2. He got his first job by writing to John Cleese for a spot in his zookeeper comedy Fierce Creatures. The child of actors, Jack wanted instead to get some behind-the-camera experience. He applied to join the film crew as a runner, but Cleese instead forwarded his letter over to casting, which got Jack cast as a young zookeeper.
3. Jack has done a fair amount of voiceover work: If you ever see the British commercials for MasterCard, that’s his voice. (The American version is Billy Crudup.)
4. He apparently wasn’t in the know when ABC cancelled his most recent drama series FlashForward; at the Prince of Persia premiere in 2010, he joked that he’d learned the news “by carrier pigeon.”
5. He’s a good sport about the passionate ways in which people react to his characters. He reflected that during the run of his 1996-1997 series This Life, his character Miles Stewart got a lot of flack: “A lot of drunken women came up to me in pubs telling me I was a bastard. To begin with, I tried to explain that the show wasn’t real, but then I found a better tactic was to look them in the eye and say, ‘Yeah, you know what? I am.’”
If that hasn’t endeared him to you enough, here are some cute outtakes from his interview with co-star Katharine McPhee: