Why 'A Million Little Things' Star James Roday Is a Scene Stealer

Damian Holbrook
Matthias Clamer/ABC

He Plays

Gary Mendez, a breast cancer survivor and one of three Boston pals still processing the suicide of best friend Jon (Ron Livingston) on ABC's A Million Little Things. “[The cast] talked to people who’ve been through this stuff, and a lot of anger goes along with being one of the people left behind,” says Roday, whose acerbic actuary relies on a steady flow of gallows humor to hide his grief and help lighten the mood for equally bereft buddies Eddie (David Giuntoli), a recovering alcoholic musician, and Rome (Romany Malco), a filmmaker who recently acknowledged his own depression. “Gary’s character makes the jokes you probably shouldn’t make but that absolutely need to be heard,” says creator DJ Nash, adding, “Gary is the one I wish I could be.”

Where You’ve Seen Him

The Texas native is best known for playing zany crime consultant/would-be psychic Shawn Spencer on USA’s Psych for eight seasons (2006-14), but since his reunion with costar Dulé Hill (Suits) for 2017’s Psych: The Movie, he’s preferred to stay behind the camera, directing episodes of The Resident, Rosewood, Battle Creek and Rush Hour.

'A Million Little Things' Cast Breaks Down What Friendship Means to Them (VIDEO)

'A Million Little Things' Cast Breaks Down What Friendship Means to Them (VIDEO)

They agree it's all about accepting each other for who we are.

Why We Love Him

Roday stole our hearts first with Gary’s devastating meltdown over Jon’s death, then through his adorably romantic support of girlfriend Maggie (Allison Miller), who agreed to endure chemo again for her own cancer recurrence. Tonight, Gary digs deeper into the secrets Jon was hiding before he killed himself, so expect the drama to escalate further. “The other shoes are gonna start dropping quick,” warns the actor.

How Little Things Changed Everything

Roday admits he was ready to set acting aside altogether: “I was pretty hard-core on the directing chain, getting close to thinking that maybe that was it.” But playing Gary resurrected his passion for the craft. “[This role] brought me back,” he says — and with the show gaining fans in its new time slot after Grey’s Anatomy, we’re thrilled he’ll be staying on this side of the camera a bit longer.

A Million Little Things, Thursdays, 9/8c, ABC