10. Shane West

Where You Should Know Him From: As Michael on CW's Nikita. Also Dr. Ray Barnett on NBC's ER, Eli Sammler on ABC's Once and Again, and the films A Walk To Remember and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Shane West has gotten somewhat of a lukewarm reception as the male lead of CW's Nikita, and for the life of me I can't understand why - because as much as I appreciate the show's strong female ensemble, it's Michael who's my favorite character. This coming from someone who'll admit that Michael was my least favorite character in USA's La Femme Nikita.

What changed? The "new" interpretation of Michael took a different route than the "classic" one - West put more heart and soul into Michael, and I responded to that. The previous Michael, as played by Roy Dupuis, was supposed to be enigmatic and that worked for that series. But as West played him, for the first time I was in Michael's head, seeing his inner conflict and caring about the choices he made. He's still just as lethal and just as imposing (c'mon, he sounds like Batman!) but he feels much more fully formed.

And much of the credit for that needs to go to Shane West, because if you watch anything else he's been in, you realize that's sort of his stock in trade. He is never just taking up space. Whether he's the focus of a scene or merely in the background, he makes every moment count and almost says more when he's not saying anything. As much as he conveys with dialogue, there are subtle choices that he makes with other elements that enhance his performances even further.

I have never seen West play a role that has turned out exactly as I expected, and that's what I really appreciate about him. No matter what the part, I know he's going to do something different and I look forward to seeing what that is. Now if only more people would take notice of his talent.

Until next week...

For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my Starpulse writer page and follow me on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).

(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.

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