As Cleveland Indians baseball player Jeff Metcalf in the 1940s period drama “Homefront,” Kyle Chandler hit more than a few home runs. Later, as former stockbroker turned unsung hero Gary Hobson in CBS’ “Early Edition”, Chandler often ran around the streets of Chicago desperately attempting to prevent disasters foretold by “tomorrow newspaper today” delivered to his front door every morning courtesy of a mysterious orange tabby cat. Being a hero proved to be a thankless job subjecting Gary Hobson to personal danger and suspicion. Chandler would hit another home run (and Emmy win) as determined coach Eric Taylor in the critically acclaimed series “Friday Night Lights.” Coach Eric Taylor turned the underdog Dillon Panthers into state champions with a battle cry of “clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”
If only John Rayburn could see out of clear eyes. Chandler’s latest alter ego, John Rayburn in Netflix’s original series Bloodline, is navigating some dark waters with family secrets and murder. This character is a far departure from the good guy roles that have cemented Chandler’s more than twenty years on the small screen, earning him both industry respect and countless fans. While Jeff Metcalf had to deal with his fiery on again, off again girlfriend (and later wife) radio personality Ginger Szabo (Tammy Lauren) and Gary Hobson was sometimes pulled into the machinations of best friend Chuck Fishman (Fisher Stevens), the stakes are dangerously higher for John Rayburn.
Kyle Chandler seems undaunted taking on an edgier and arguably morally conflicted character. What motivates John Rayburn? On the surface, he is a role model in the community with a loving wife and children. Below the surface, the waters are murkier. Family conflict feeds Bloodline’s narrative. The show even has those Shakespearean undertones of betrayal and murderous hands. What Chandler does as John Rayburn is impressive. He peels back the layers of a complex character allowing us to walk that delicate tightrope between viewer sympathy and viewer loathing. Such is the mark of a gifted actor.
Bloodline is intense, edge of your seat perfection. Kyle Chandler has hit another home run.