In Praise of Ray McKinnon

The first time I saw writer, director, actor Ray McKinnonhe played luckless Charlie Campion, the infected escapee who set the flu ball rolling in The Stand, the 1994 television adaption of Stephen King’s novel. Even more memorable was his role as Vernon T. Waldrip, the bonafide suitor,  in the Coen Brothers O Brother Where Art Thou?  His pronunciation of ‘mah fee-awn-say’ is priceless. Next he won an Oscar for his short film The Accountant, which he wrote, directed, starred in along with Walton Goggins (of the FX series Justified) co-owner of his production company Ginny Mules Pictures. If you haven’t watched the short, look for it. My favorite Ray McKinnon role is that of the Reverend H.W. Smith in season one of David Milch’s HBO series Deadwood (2004).  I’m a huge fan of the series, of the poetry in the (usually coarse) language and of the nuanced and layered performances given by all, but especially by McKinnon in his portrayal of the kindly ministerial man tortured into doubt by an ailment of the brain.  I re-watched the series recently and was struck anew by how subtly he handled the dialogue and how skillful was his conveyance of expression. He’s one of those actors you watch without realizing just how incredibly good he is at his job.

He played Linc Potter in Sons of Anarchy (2011) featured in Mud (2012) but most recently he is behind the artfully written, acted and directed series Rectify, now in its second season on Sundance TV and starring Aden Young. From episode one, the writing spoke to me and I had to know who was responsible. I came away with a smile, knowing I was in for a treat. One of the keywords listed for the series is “southern gothic” and it is that, but is also much more. McKinnon brings every emotion to the table and lays it out in all its human (choose your noun here) ugliness,  wickedness, frailty, beauty. And just like his acting, you’ll never realize how deeply you’ve been affected until it’s over.  If you haven’t watched it, treat yourself and give Rectify a try. PS: You’re going to love Kerwin.

~ by S.K. Epperson on June 30, 2014.

2 Responses to “In Praise of Ray McKinnon”

  1. Thanks for the reminder. “Rectify” is on my ever-growing list of series to watch; I still haven’t caught up with “Deadwood.” Suffice it to say commuting is just killing timely TV for me. Thank God for the ‘net and On Demand.

    • Rectify season one is only six episodes, I believe, and likely season two will follow same. Powerful stuff. And admittedly, Deadwood is not for everyone, but once into it you’ll come away with the same appreciation for the character Al Swearingen as for the Michael K Williams character Omar from The Wire, which I also intend to rewatch…soon as I can wean myself away from Asian movies and television on Hulu (so dreadfully addictive.)

      In fact, one I recently binge-watched you might enjoy. It has the title Secret Love Affair, but don’t let that stop you. It’s actually quite good.
      “Despite being married and having a fulfilling career as a sophisticated arts foundation director, something is missing in Oh Hye Won’s life (Kim Hee Ae). When she meets twenty-something Lee Seon Jae (Yoo Ah In), Hye Won’s appetite for passion is awakened, and she soon falls for the impoverished piano prodigy.” The musical performances will have you sighing in bliss. :)

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