Lately, the "heroes" of cable shows have included a Mob boss, a drug kingpin, a serial killer and more. So it's refreshing to see that "Agent X" gives us a true hero ... and that Jeff Hephner, who has the title role, seems to fit that neatly. Here's the story I sent to papers:
By Mike Hughes
At times, Jeff
Hephner is your average Midwesterner.
He's a small-town
man who was a smaller-town kid. He lives with his wife and three kids
in a city of 5,000, where's he's only the second-most-famous actor.
And at other times,
he saves the world ... often. He has the title role in “Agent X,”
TNT's new global adventure. “I love the fact that it's a real
throwback,” Hephner said. “It's a totally heroic role.”
He plays a secret
agent ... so secret that the only people who know about him are a
long-time aide (Gerald McRaney) and the new vice-president ... played
by the show's biggest name.
bleepin' Stone,” Hephner marvelled. “She's an icon .... My first
scene, we were together for four hours. Over time, there's a bonding
Back when Stone was
causing a sensation in “Basic Instinct” (1992), Hephner was at
little Sand Creek High School, in a tiny town at the southern edge of
Michigan; he quarterbacked the football team, played basketball and
was academic all-state.
At 6-foot-2, he
played basketball at Calvin College and then at Ferris State, where
he was a captain without being a starter. The notion of show-business
came slowly. “I was a big TV fan as a kid, but because I was a jock
from a small town,” there wasn't much chance for acting.
Hephner headed to Florida. He did theater and was a stand-in on the
set of “Tigerland” ... where director Joel Schumacher gave him a
That was enough to
nudge him to New York and Los Angeles – a huge culture shock. “My
dad said, 'Treat every neighborhood like a small town.' He was
Hephner landed a
role in the Fox series “The Jury” and then starred in “The
Water is Wide” (2006), a classy TV movie based on Pat Conroy's
account of teaching on an impoverished South Carolina island. “I
got really lucky with that. Alfre Woodard was there and Frank
Langella,” who became a key mentor.
Many of Hephner's
recurring roles have filled the usual macho forms – a football
coach in “Hellcats,” firefighters in “Mercy” and “Chicago
Fire,” a politician and philanderer in “Boss.”
Now he an action
hero, complete with big fight scenes. “They trusted me to do a lot
of that myself.”
When the 10-episode
season ends, Hephner can return to his adopted home town (near Ann
Arbor) of Chelsea, Mich. It's a picturesque place of 5,000, where
Jeff Daniels remains the most famous actor.
For his wife –
who's from New York – this is an adjustment. “To my surprise, she
really likes it here.”
And for Hephner,
it's a pleasant place to rest, in between turns saving the world.
-- “Agent X,” 9
p.m. Sundays, TNT
-- Opens Nov. 8 with
two episodes, 9 and 10:01 p.m., repeating at 12:01 and 1:02 a.m.;
next episode, Nov. 15, is 9 p.m., repeating at 11.