No sword is as double-edged as landing a role on a hit TV show. On the one hand there’s the chance to do what you love, have millions of fans get to know your work and — perhaps most importantly — earn a steady paycheck. On the other, by taking on the role of Rory’s dad on GILMORE GIRLS, David Sutcliffe might well have found himself forever trying to escape Christopher’s shadow.
Fortunately, when not ticking off fans by interferring in Luke and Lorelai’s romance, Sutcliffe has found time to squeeze in other roles which assured he would not wind up being typecast. (Think it doesn’t happen? Quick… what else has SEINFELD’s Soup Nazi been in? Or DALLAS alum Linda “Sue Ellen” Gray?) In fact, even as Christopher played second fiddle to Luke, Sutcliffe proved himself leading man material by heading up the 2003 sitcom I’M WITH HER alongside Teri Polo. “Shooting I’M WITH HER was a great experience,” shares the handsome actor. “The schedule was very easy compared to GILMORE, and it was great to perform in front of a live audience, getting laughs and feedback immediately.”
Despite HER being branded by many critics a sure-fire hit, the sitcom – in which Sutcliffe’s charming everyman, Patrick Owen, found himself falling for Polo’s glamorous superstar, Alex Young – lasted only a season. “I think the show had moments throughout the season that were really strong,” admits the actor. “Overall, the show was good with some fun moments. When I look at what is on TV now — and I certainly looked at what was on the following year — I really felt the show deserved a chance.” But middling ratings weren’t enough for then-fourth place ABC, which had yet to rise to the top with the help of a few DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES and those LOST castaways.
Meanwhile, as fans wait with baited breath to see what will happen following Christopher and Lorelai’s ill-advised roll in the hay, Sutcliffe is spending the summer in Panama playing an FBI mercenary out to rescue two kidnapped girls — one of whom just happens to be pals with his TV-daughter. “The girls I’ve come down to rescue are America Ferrera and Erika Christensen. I’ve gotten to know America because she’s good friends with Alexis [Bledel, Rory] since they worked together in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. She’s a great girl, and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity.”
This fall, as Christopher’s future with Lorelai is being decided, Ferrera will be making a play for the hearts of viewers as the star of ABC’s telenovela UGLY BETTY. So does Sutcliffe have any tips which might help her deal with the difficulties of heading up a prime time series? “Doing 22 episodes of anything can be very stressful,” he warns. “Just make sure you’re having as much fun as you can and make people laugh.”