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J. August Richards

J. August Richards - "Raising The Bar" Tv Series - Bostonherald.com Interview

Tuesday 9 June 2009, by Webmaster

J. August Richards never thought he would have anything in common with someone like Harrison Ford.

Richards plays Marcus McGrath on TNT’s “Raising the Bar,” returning for a second season tonight at 10. But many fans still remember him as Charles Gunn on the cult hit “Angel.” Even though the drama went off the air in 2004, he is constantly approached by fans of that show.

“I don’t think I have a very accurate idea of the show’s impact,” he said in a recent telephone interview from Los Angeles. “People act like meeting me is like meeting Han Solo. The show is still kind of living on, which is a strange thing to me.”

Richards said he had to let go of his own views to play the conservative prosecutor on the TNT drama.

“I’m as liberal as they come,” Richards said. “Marcus is very conservative, very judgmental. I had to allow myself to let go of all that I was thinking about him. It was a really spiritual process in a way. For me, a character isn’t clear until I figure out the spine of who they are, and I understand someone on a quest for justice. Marcus is constantly trying to even out the scale. When you understand that, you understand everything.”

The premiere tonight pokes fun at viewer criticism of star Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s hairstyle.

“Even people who don’t know the show have a comment about his hair,” Richards said and then laughed. “Everyone was talking about his hair. I was like, ‘Is Mark-Paul Gosselaar the new Madonna?’”

The Maryland native has wanted to be an actor since he saw the movie “King Kong” as a child. “I remember thinking and asking my father, ‘Where is that right now? Can I go there?’ ”

Nearly a decade ago, the Los Angeles Times followed Richards for a year to chronicle an African-American actor auditioning in Hollywood. That happened to be the year he landed “Angel.” Does he think the industry has changed since then?

“It’s interesting. People will say to me, ‘You’re a supporting actor and when are you going to get your own show?’ And I think, ‘What show is that?’ There isn’t one. Inroads are being made. (Producer) Shonda Rhimes did something so revolutionary (with ABC’s ‘Grey’s Anatomy’) by having more than one person of color on the same show,” he said. “But there’s a distance to go. A distance to climb. For me specifically, it’s been amazing. I’ve been blessed to work with the best producers in the business. I cannot complain. Even slightly.”