Zachary Quinto's Most Memorable Roles: From 'Star Trek' to 'American Horror Story'June 18, 2020
In BBC America and AMC's supernatural horror series NOS4A2, Zachary Quinto sinks his teeth into another deliciously dastardly role. He stars as Charlie Manx, an immortal serial killer who takes his young victims for a long ride in his luxury Rolls-Royce Wraith, feeds off their souls, then dumps them in Christmasland, a twisted village where every day is Christmas Day and unhappiness is against the law. He's definitely not a guy you want to run into on a poorly lit corner.
Ahead of season two, which premieres this Sunday (June 21) at 10pm EST on both BBC America and AMC, here's a reminder of the actor's other memorable roles – from the light and playful to the pretty darn dark.
1. 24 (2003-4)
Perhaps surprisingly, this was the first TV series in which Quinto appeared in multiple episodes. He actually guest-stars throughout season three as Adam Kaufman, a computer expert working alongside Kiefer Sutherland's Jack Bauer at the L.A. Counter Terror Unit. There's more to his slightly shady character than you might think, which makes this early role an interesting harbinger of Quinto performances to come.
2. So Notorious (2006)
Quinto co-stars opposite Tori Spelling in this short-lived and somewhat underrated sitcom in which Spelling plays a fictionalized version of herself, desperately trying to downplay the fact her father is a famous TV mogul. It's a cleverly meta concept and Quinto gets some great lines as her friend Sason, who's supportive but can't help trying to knock some sense into the occasionally delusional actress.
3. Heroes (2006)
Quinto's big breakthrough came in this briefly brilliant sci-fi series about ordinary people who discover they have superhuman abilities. He's a menacing presence in all four seasons as Gabriel "Sylar" Gray, an incredibly cunning serial killer who targets other superheroes so that he can steal their powers. Though Sylar sometimes tries to curb his natural compulsion to kill, a relapse is never too far away, and Quinto nails his internal conflict perfectly.
4. The Star Trek franchise (2009-16)
Quinto was cast as Spock in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot with the blessing of Leonard Nimoy, who had casting approval, and it's hard to imagine anyone else fitting the iconic role quite so perfectly. He returns in 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness and 2016's Star Trek Beyond, and became great friends with Nimoy before his death in 2015. "I lost my father at a very young age, and Leonard came to occupy a space in my life that was like a father figure," Quinto told The Guardian shortly after he passed.
5. Margin Call (2011)
Quinto served as a producer on this Oscar-nominated Wall Street thriller as well taking a lead role. He plays Peter Sullivan, a risk analyst who realizes his investment bank is facing potential bankruptcy during the early stages of the 2007-8 financial crisis. Like 2015's The Big Short, Margin Call mines the potentially dry intricacies of the finance world for gripping high-drama, and Quinto gets to bounce off a terrific ensemble cast that includes Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, and Kevin Spacey.
6. American Horror Story: Asylum (2012)
Quinto guest-stars in season one of American Horror Story: Murder House, but takes a deliciously dark leading role in its second. In an Emmy-nominated turn, he plays Dr. Oliver Thredson, a court-appointed psychiatrist whose calm and collected exterior masks the fact that he's actually a deeply sadistic serial killer with abandonment issues. It's a classic, "quiet storm" kind of performance from Quinto.
7. The Slap (2015)
Adapted from Christos Tsiolkas's bestselling novel, this intriguing miniseries follows the fallout from a regrettable but initially relatively minor incident. When Quinto's short-tempered Harry slaps the badly behaved son of a friend, the little boy's mother (Melissa George) insists it's given him PTSD, and sets about pressing criminal charges. Each episode is told from a different character's perspective, though Quinto's aggressive, rage-filled Harry is a malevolent presence throughout.
8. Girls (2015)
Quinto guest-stars in two episodes of Lena Dunham's zeitgeist-grabbing sitcom as Ace, a character Vulture branded the show's "worst" – i.e. most appalling – to date. He's definitely a pretentious creep, manipulating various members of Dunham's posse as he inexplicably chews on a toothbrush and says things like: "It’s my friend’s restaurant. I photographed her breasts for a project on globalization."
9. I Am Michael (2016)
This indie film based on a fascinating true story stars James Franco as Michael Glatze, a former gay activist who renounced his sexuality and became a Christian pastor. Quinto co-stars as Bennett, his sweetly supportive boyfriend, who for obvious reasons can't believe how much his ex goes on to change. It's a complicated story, sensitively told, thanks in no small part to Franco and Quinto's well judged performances.
10. High Flying Bird (2019)
Quinto has a key supporting role in this zippy sports movie from director Steven Soderbergh. He plays the no-nonsense boss who warns André Holland's struggling sports agent that he'll lose his job if he doesn't help the firm out of a ruinous NBA lockout. Shot by Soderbergh on an iPhone 8, High Flying Bird is an intense and gripping watch even if you have no interest in basketball whatsoever.
What's your favorite Zachary Quinto role?