VICTORIA, BC. It's early May on Vancouver Island and rain has temporarily trapped Kevin Rankin in a makeshift press tent just inland at Island View Beach Regional Park.
With several of his co-stars in rotation being interviewed, Rankin ends up sitting next to the heat lamp, which means sitting next to me for what turns out to be an in-depth conversation about both his work on FOX's "Broadchurch" and his eclectic and varied career.
With his turns as rascally and resilient Herc on "Friday Night Lights" and gloriously unprepared-for-authority RA Lucien on "Undeclared," Rankin has the rare honor of having been part of multiple shows that earned the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast Summer ReWatch treatment. [Three, if you include "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," though his one-episode appearance came after the season featured in the podcast.]
Rankin has also had runs on shows including "Breaking Bad," "Six Feet Under," "Big Love" and "Justified," when he wasn't terrorizing the President in "White House Down" or assisting Matthew McConaughey to his Oscar in "Dallas Buyers Club."
On "Gracepoint," a FOX remake of the British "Broadchurch," Rankin plays Rev. Coates, a man of the cloth trying to steer a small town through its collective grief at the murder of a young boy. Is Coates just a shepherd caring for his flock, or does he have a personal agenda?
For an actor who has moved back and forth between hero-adjacent good guys and villain-adjacent henchman, it's a role that could absolutely go either way.
We covered a lot of Rankin's career in our 20-minute chat. Clad in a buttoned up brown cardigan, Rankin talked about his attempts to diversify his resume to prevent typecasting and how that has led to myriad responses when people recognize him in public. We talked about the pleasures of doing brief guest spots on established shows, but also the value in being with a show from the ground floor. And Rankin discussed the advantages and frustrations of kicking the wheels on being a network procedural regular.
I think this is an interesting glimpse into the progress of a hard-working character actor.
The second "Gracepoint" episode airs tonight on FOX. The full Kevin Rankin Q&A is below...