Welcome to the second, less frequently-posted decade of RevMod.

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

John Spencer, 1946-2005

In noting the passing of John Spencer, some people have been recalling lines from the West Wing that he delivered with so much subtle emotional heft, they became much greater than the words on the page. But for me, the essential John Spencer moment, the moment I recognized how much skill he brought to the role, came at the end of the penultimate episode of season two. Having just been informed of the death of the President's friend and primary receptionist, chief-of-staff Leo McGarry walks the porch from the Oval Office to the President's Residence to tell him. Over the course of that walk, a dozen steps over twenty seconds, Spencer manages, not even so much to sag with the shock and sadness (which would be the less subtle way to go about it), but to seemingly shrink within his suit.

The West Wing, in the early seasons, succeeded largely because the cast brought the gravitas to pull off what would have been, in lesser hands, far too laboured. John Spencer led that charge, bringing to life a character with issues that never overwhelmed but were always present.

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