Noah Wyle to Take A Heavy Role in the Racially Charged Drama 'Red Line'

Noah Wyle The World Made Straight

Wyle has signed on to a role unlike anything he’s done before. Is he up for a return to Prime Time success at CBS?

Ava Duvernay is producing a pilot for CBS called Red Line, an hour-long drama set following the accidental shooting of a black man by a white cop. Deadline reports that Noah Wyle has agreed to take a lead role as the husband of the man shot by the police officer.

The question is, does Noah Wyle have the dramatic chops to take on a role of that magnitude?

Wyle will play Daniel Calder, a high school teacher who has suddenly become a single parent to their adopted daughter Jira (Aliyah Royale). How will Calder put in context his enormous loss caused by the mistake of a police officer in a convenience store?

The set up for this series is intense. The plot carries the dread of reality. The series promises to cover the aftermath from multiple perspectives, each role with their own challenges in capturing both a character and something that feels honest, human, and of our times. They seem set on showing the humanity in everyone.

That’s a big demand. A single father, widower, and teacher. As it is in life, while each of those spaces will manifest his loss in some way, they are frequently compartmentalized. It isn’t just a simple emotional state he’ll have to maintain. His motivations as Teacher Calder or Widower Calder or Father Calder will all be slightly different.

As a television actor, there are few people with Wyle’s range of experience. He’s been on two hit television shows and had a series of TV movies develop enough of a following that they merited a full series. If experience counts for anything in building out an actor’s toolkit, then he’s got that in spades with more than 300 episodes under his belt.

At 23, Wyle broke into prime time as ER‘s Dr. John Carter. The show is legendary and featured his story for 11 of the show’s 15 seasons. Whether Carter was getting stabbed or hooked on drugs, traveling to the Congo, or dealing with broken relationships, Wyle was crushing the performance. He was part of the cast that won four Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble Cast.

Everybody knows ER was great. Since then, he’s pushed into new territory. Falling Skies was a five-season journey through a post-alien apocalypse invasion, which put him in plenty of emotionally heavy moments. His wife died in the initial invasion and he’s struggling to raise three sons on his own. The series, while sci-fi action, had some substance to its story.

His TV films as Flynn Carsen, the Librarian, are pure charm. He’s a bumbling genius bursting with knowledge and very few people skills. While comedy ain’t drama, comedic timing goes a long way in understanding a dramatic moment. An experienced comedy performer also knows how to find the humor in a moment fraught with heavier emotions. It’s what made Robin Williams so dang good.

You know, this doesn’t even include his film roles. His cinematic debut was in A Few Good Men. But, Swing Kids. If you want to talk about complex roles, check him out there. He plays a neo-Nazi, and, in a scene where he deliberately breaks the hand of his former best friend, he is terrifying. Wyle is no stranger to challenging roles.

The takeaway is that this will be a challenge for him. Getting any role right is hard work. This show feels bursting with relevance. While even ER was a straight drama, I’m not sure that he’s worked on something so fiercely urgent.

Hopefully, all the talented actors come together to make this show sing and it will get picked up. This is exactly the sort of story we should be telling and thinking about right now.

Writer for Film School Rejects. He currently lives in Virginia, where he is very proud of his three kids, wife, and projector. Co-Dork on the In The Mouth of Dorkness podcast.