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Why Will Tyler From For All Mankind Looks So Familiar

Since debuting on Apple TV+ in 2019, the alt-history space race drama "For All Mankind" has proven to be one of the more thrillingly original programs currently in production. It also continues to be one of the most frustratingly under-the-radar series in the streaming realm. 

If you've yet to catch up to "For All Mankind," the series is the brainchild of "Battlestar Galactica" reboot mastermind Ronald D. Moore, who co-created alongside "Fargo" alums Ben Nedivi and Matt Wolpert. Unfolding in an alternate historical timeline, the first season of the sci-fi drama explores what the space race between the Soviet Union and the United States might've looked like in the 1970s had the former beaten the latter to the Moon. Season 2 is set largely in the '80s, with the U.S. having already established a lunar colony, and looking to expand further into the cosmos.

The most recent season jumps ahead another decade, and follows astronauts in the '90s as they make their way to Mars. As fans of "For All Mankind" no doubt recall, one of those astronauts — Robert Bailey Jr.'s Will Tyler — makes unexpected headlines from the Martian surface when he comes out as gay during a live broadcast to Earth. That storyline puts him at the center of a tricky narrative arc later in the season, with Bailey Jr. bringing some welcome gravitas to the role. We're betting the actor looked familiar to a lot of viewers. Here's where you might've seen Bailey Jr. before. 

Becker found Robert Bailey Jr. playing a young patient

Now in his 30s, Robert Bailey Jr.'s career stretches almost the entirety of his own life. The actor actually made his screen debut in 1996, landing a one-off supporting gig in the hit series "Nash Bridges." He'd go on to make appearances in several of the top shows of the decade. And that list includes the long-running Ted Danson sitcom "Becker."

As a brief refresher, that series found Danson playing the titular doctor, who had a knack for embittered observations on the world, and biting one-liners. He, naturally, also had a seriously soft underbelly. And that tender side was well on display during Bailey Jr.'s multi-episode "Becker" arc. Said arc came during the series' first season on the air, and found the actor portraying Dr. Becker's young patient M.J. Johnson.

M.J. naturally comes to the doctor's office a very sick boy, with Becker doing what he can to ease the kid's nerves. The pair continue to bond over ensuing visits, with their story culminating in a memorable episode where the cantankerous doc ends up babysitting M.J. and his sister for an evening. Despite the fact that M.J. seemed to be setting up for a lengthy recurring role on the series, Bailey Jr.'s run on was capped at just three episodes. Still, the young actor more than proved he had the chops to keep working in showbiz.   

Bailey Jr. met an unfortunate end in The Happening

And keep working Robert Bailey Jr. did. In fact, the young actor used his "Becker" break as a springboard to book supporting work on major small-screen hits of the early aughts, including "Alias," "The Practice," and "ER," among others. He scored work in a handful of film projects as well, appearing in 2000's sci-fi hit "Mission to Mars" (opposite Tim Robbins and Don Cheadle), 2001's cult comedy "Bubble Boy" (with Jake Gyllenhaal), and 2002's Kevin Costner vehicle "Dragonfly."

In 2008, however, Bailey Jr. booked one of his biggest big screen roles to date, scoring a major supporting role as the teen-aged Jared in the M. Night Shyamalan sci-fi thriller "The Happening." Yes, that "The Happening." History has, of course, not been kind to the Mark Wahlberg-fronted biological disaster flick. And if you've seen "The Happening," you know many of the film's jeers, and unintentional cheers, are indeed well-earned.

But there's also a surprising group of schlock-cinema lovers who've helped make "The Happening" a bit of a cult-sensation in the years since its release. And many have come to appreciate the work Bailey Jr. and other cast members put in despite the many issues dogging Shyamalan's screenplay. And even as "The Happening" is doomed to remain one of the more infamous offerings in Shyamalan's oft-dodgy cinematic oeuvre, it should be noted that Bailey Jr. more than holds his own here opposite cast mates like Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, and Spencer Breslin.

The Night Shift found Bailey Jr. playing doctor in Texas

Robert Bailey Jr. followed his "The Happening" appearance with a role in a far more celebrated film, voicing Wyborne "Wybie" Lovat in Henry Selick's beloved adaptation of "Coraline." And he'd spend the next few years contributing supporting work to major TV shows like "CSI: Miami," and "Criminal Minds." 

In 2014, the actor joined an impressive ensemble cast of up-and-comers when he landed the role of Dr. Paul Cummings on the NBC drama "The Night Shift." Debuting in 2014, the series follows the exploits of a group of doctors — most of whom are military vets — in a San Antonio, Texas hospital. Bailey Jr.'s character is a hot-shot first year resident looking to surpass his famous father in the surgical realm. He's also frequently the subject of practical jokes by his cohort, with Bailey Jr. playing the part with a mix of cocksure swagger and stifling insecurity.

The series ran for four abbreviated seasons on NBC before getting the axe. But over that span, Robert Bailey Jr. worked with the fellow rising stars Eoin Macken ("La Brea"), Jill Flint ("Royal Pains"), Brendan Fehr ("Bones," "Better Call Saul"), and James Roch ("Law & Order: Organized Crime"). He also traded lines with more seasoned actors like Ken Leung, Tanaya Beatty, Scott Wolf, and Freddy Rodriguez.

Bailey Jr. played a good cop on Emergence

A couple of years after his residency on "The Night Shift" came to an end, Robert Bailey Jr. was playing a different sort of first responder in the ABC sci-fi drama "Emergence." Highly touted before its release, the series took a "mystery box" sort of approach to narrative a-la "Lost," and "Manifest," telling the tale of an unusual girl named Piper (Alexa Swinton), and Jo Evans (Allison Tolman), the Long Island police chief who takes her in after a devastating accident. 

Unfortunately, the many mysteries of "Emergence" were never fully explored as the drama was cancelled after just 13 episodes. For the better part of the show's first season, however, Bailey Jr. was at the center of the head-spinning action playing one of Chief Evans' most trusted allies, Officer Chris Minetto. And if you watched "Emergence," you know his not-quite dead-pan reaction to learning Piper's deep, dark secret was one of the series' most low-key memorable moments. That's saying a lot considering "Emergence" boasted contributions from the likes of Donald Faison, Clancy Brown, Terry O'Quinn, and Maria Dizzia.