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'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'S' J. August Richards: the Value of Being 'Benched'

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"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." actor J. August Richards is a walking testimony to the power of perseverance.

Last year found him shuttling between Los Angeles, Vancouver and Montreal to work on four different series — "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," Lifetime's post-apocalyptic drama "The Lottery," Bravo's "Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce" and ABC's "Grey's Anatomy."

"I flew more than any time in my life," notes the hunky Washington, D.C.-born, Maryland-raised actor. But that downpour of assignments came, he says, after a difficult dry spell.

"I was out of work for 18 months. In one week, I was told I was too young to play one character that was my same age and too old to play another character older than me. I was told I was 'too hot' and 'not hot enough' for roles," he relates with a laugh. Then he admits, "I lost my fight a little bit for a couple of months."

How did he get it back?

"Meditation and prayer, gaining a new understanding," says Richards. Among his realizations was the fact that his self-assurance and sense of worthiness had to come from within rather than being dependent upon the often-capricious feedback he gets from various show business entities.

"I look back now and I can see that it was good to be benched for 18 months.

I had to reconfigure my thoughts, know the source of my confidence and know I am worthy," he says.

At the same time, Richards maintained a Marvel-worthy physique — the better to land the role of single dad cum killer cyborg Mike Peterson/Deathlok in "S.H.I.E.L.D." The series reunites him with his one-time "Angel" boss, Joss Whedon — and his admiration for and trust in Whedon were put to good use when he had to go on faith that his role in the series would be worth doing. The plot is kept a closely guarded secret, and Richards was only given a script after being cast.

"Frankly, when I finally got the script for the first episode, I thought, 'Oh, my God. I had no idea this role was going to be so multilayered and so rich,'" he recalls, speaking of his conflicted antihero. "I feel that character opened the door to my playing real adults."

Certainly, he's an adult in "Girl's Guide," on which is plays a gay dad. And gravitas is a must for playing the deputy secretary of state in "The Lottery."

Recentered and energized, Richards is philosophical about having had to go through lean times. He now feels, "The chance to inspire someone else by telling my story — that could be the greatest gift of the whole experience."

COPYRIGHT 2015 STACY JENEL SMITH

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM



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