Home Actor Spotlight Actor Spotlight #2 – Jesse L Martin – Law and Order, Rent, The Flash

Actor Spotlight #2 – Jesse L Martin – Law and Order, Rent, The Flash

by Conor O'Brien

Actor Spotlight is a feature in which the career of a singular actor is analysed. We discuss their life, career and the impact they had on their projects.

Jesse Lamont Watkins was born on January 18th 1969, in the state of Virginia. He is of course better known as the actor Jesse L. Martin, having adopted his stepfather’s surname.

Due to his near decade long performance as Det. Ed Green in Law and Order(2000-2008), Martin is synonymous with New York. An adopted son of the city, he moved there with his family as a young child.

Part of the appeal with Green in Law and Order is that he is an astute, direct Detective. He is well aware when suspects are talking BS and calls them out on it. Green also had great chemistry with Lennie Brisco (Jerry Orbach), his most recognisable partner, with whom he worked for four years.

Detective Green with his most famous partner – Lennie Brisco, played by the late Jerry Orbach. (Image: NBC)

Also an accomplished singer, Martin was part of the original 1996 Broadway cast and 2005 film cast for the musical RENT, where he played Tom Collins, an AIDS sufferer. Martin was also set to play singer Marvin Gaye in a film called Sexual Healing, which has since been shelved.

To many people in more recent years (including myself), Martin is widely known for his current role as Detective Joe West on CW’s The Flash, which has aired since 2014. Joe is the surrogate father figure, foster father and father-in-law of the main character, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin). As well as this, he is also the father of iconic DC characters such as Barry’s wife Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton) and Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale).

Martin as Joe West, with Candice Patton as his daughter, Iris West-Allen

The role allows Martin, on occasion, to employ some of the Detective techniques accrued from Law and Order, most notably in Season 1, when there were tense scenes with unspoken meanings between Joe and Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh).

Joe is one of the most likeable characters on The Flash. He has strong chemistry with most, if not all, of the other characters especially Barry and Iris. Martin brings a significant amount of heart and sincerity to the role. Joe is a unique character on TV, given that his daughter married his foster son, almost making him a de-facto double father-in-law.

Image: RENT

Overall, Jesse L. Martin has consistently shown himself to be a talented and versatile performer, whether he’s on stage or screen. As one of the leads on what is currently CW’s highest rated show, he is most certainly on a career high.

Make sure to tune in next week for the third Edition of Actor Spotlight

Hint: Next time, we’ll ‘Shake it Up’ compared to previously…

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