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Who Plays Paul Drake In HBO's Perry Mason?

When "Perry Mason" made its HBO debut back in 2020, nobody was really sure what to expect from it, because, well, producing a prequel series to one of the best-loved network dramas in television history hardly seemed necessary. Necessary or not, HBO threw some serious weight behind their "Perry Mason," delivering the gritty, hard-nosed take on the material the world didn't know it needed. And yes, despite being a prequel to CBS' legendary legal drama of the same name, HBO's 1930s set series still managed to feel like one of the most thrillingly original programs on the air.

"Perry Mason," of course, debuted fronting the always-amazing Matthew Rhys in the title role, and found producers surrounding him with a veritable who's who of character actors and legit stars on the rise. Of the former group, the likes of John Lithgow, Justin Kirk, Lili Taylor, and Stephen Root were no doubt welcome sites for viewers. Of the latter group, few have made quite as much of their "Perry Mason" gig as the scene-stealing actor who portrays LAPD Officer turned private detective, Paul Drake. 

That actor's name is Chris Chalk. His character's struggles as one of the LAPD's precious few African Americans in uniform circa the 1930s provided some legit Season 1 highlights from both seasons of HBO's "Perry Mason." And his story has only gotten more interesting in Season 2.

Chris Chalk is a star very much on the rise

It should go without saying that Chalk's "straightlaced but open to interpretation" take on Paul Drake is a big reason the character resonates so deeply with viewers. And the actor's stone-faced work in the role — even as he cracks some of the series' best jabs — is truly a thing to behold.

Of course, those who've been tracking Chalk's career over the past decade or so have come to expect such outstanding work from the actor. Chalk earned his first screen credit in 2005 for his role in the straight-to-video prequel, "Carlito's Way: Rise to Power," but its safe to say he jumped onto the radar of most viewers in 2011 when he claimed the recurring role of former Marine turned al-Queda agent Tom Walker in the Showtime hit, "Homeland." The next year, Chalk earned further raves for his work as "News Night" staffer Gary Cooper in Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom." 

Chalk has continued to amass an impressive body of work in the years since, booking a recurring role in the cult WGN hit, "Underground," landing a key role in Katherine Bigelow's 2019 drama, "Detroit," and playing Lucius Fox in all five seasons of "Gotham." He also played Yusuf Salam in Ava DuVernay's Emmy-winning Netflix mini-series, "When They See Us," and appeared in the Kai-Ju blockbuster, "Godzilla vs. Kong." Most recently he shared the screen with Elisabeth Moss in the Apple TV+ series, "Shining Girls." And the way things are going for Chalk, you're bound to be seeing a lot of him moving forward.