What Is Jesse L. Martin In Besides 'The Flash'? Detective Joe West Definitely Isn't His First Great Role
The Flash is lucky to have Jesse L. Martin playing Barry Allen's adoptive dad Detective Joe West. Whenever he's on screen the acting gets infinitely better — he knows how to bring his A-game. This isn't to say the rest of the acting on The Flash is bad. Tom Cavanagh as the shady as hell Harrison Wells is also a highlight when it comes to acting talent on the show. But Joe deserves special attention, because before The Flash , Jesse L. Martin had a ton of other great roles.
Martin has been on Broadway and is a very fine actor, which made me a bit surprised to see him on a CW show at first. But the writers and Martin have proven my initial hesitation wrong by making Joe West an amazing character. He's probably the best depiction of fatherhood on TV right now. He's intelligent, caring, and also was the person to come closest to figuring out what Wells was hiding, which led to the Reverse-Flash paying him a not-so-friendly visit. Martin has brought charisma and intelligence to a role that could have easily been lost in the mix of crazy time travel antics and superheroes. Thanks to him, Joe West is one of my favorite characters on the show (now if only the writers could give his daughter Iris more to do). Let's take a look back at Martin's past roles before he started another great run on The Flash.
Martin is probably best known in the theater community for his Off Broadway and Broadway role as Tom Collins in the iconic musical Rent. That's right, ladies and gentleman, Martin is also a singer. He also took up the role again in the 2005 film adaptation of the musical. Maybe this adds more credence to the rumor of a musical episode of The Flash?
Other Theater Work
Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Martin has continuously appeared in productions of Shakespeare, including in The Winter's Tale as part of Shakespeare in the Park, and on Broadway with The Merchant of Venice.
Who hasn't appeared on The X-Files? Thanks to it running for so long, a lot of your favorite stars have made guest spots. Sure, they usually don't stick around long and die gruesomely, but it can be fun to spot soon-to-be bigger actors on the show. Martin appears in one of my favorite episodes, Season 6's "The Unnatural," as an alien who has disguised himself as a black baseball player in the late 1940s. Martin was offered the role by Agent Fox Mulder himself, as the New York Times reports that David Duchovny (who actually wrote this episode) cast Martin after seeing him in Rent and on Ally McBeal. It is a heart wrenching episode with an interesting fairytale structure that shows the The X-Files tackling ideas of racism and belonging with its signature weirdness.
Law & Order
From 1999 to 2008, Martin played Detective Ed Green on the original Law & Order. This is probably the role he's best remembered for. The charm, dry wit, and intelligence that Martin brings to everything are at the forefront of his portrayal of Det. Green.
While Martin is great on Law and Order, I definitely have more of a soft spot for his detective on The Flash. We'll be able to see him and the rest of Team Flash deal with the aftermath of the Reverse-Flash on Tuesday Jan. 20 when the show returns with "Revenge of the Rogues."