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Why Hollywood Won't Cast James Roday Anymore

James Roday wormed his way into the hearts of TV fans through his antics and deductions as Shawn Spencer, the totally-not-psychic psychic detective that caught any criminal dumb enough to operate in Santa Barbara. But James himself hasn't been as successful at solving another big mystery that baffles many people: how to make it big in Hollywood. Today we examine why that might be so rough for him.

Psych has been his only mainstream success

James Roday's been in the game for a long time, and he is a successful actor in that he regularly gets work and makes a living, which is a tough standard to get to like anyone who's ever tried knows, especially while they're making coffee on the side. But as far as getting over as a famous actor, Roday's had a lot more strike outs. In fact, Psych has been his only critical and commercial success, as well as his most popular role. 

Before he found his way to Psych, he was just doing a lot of small parts, cameos, and independent movies like Rolling Kansas, where he plays a t-shirt salesman looking for a hidden forest of marijuana with his two brothers, the National Lampoon comedy Repli-Kate, in which Roday portrays a scientist who clones his dream girl by accident and teaches her the ways of dudes. 

Post-Psych, it's been much the same. Roday's been stuck playing small supporting roles like Billy Prickett in the 2005 Dukes of Hazzard movie. And with a résumé like that, it's hard to convince directors that casting him higher would be in their best interest.

He's spending more time on the other side of the camera

Roday himself is not as interested in acting much these days. Besides starring on the show, Roday started to wear a lot more hats around Psych's fourth season, taking on roles as a writer, director, and a producer over the next five years that the series would run. After the show came to an end, Roday started doing more and more off camera work, directing pilots, episodes of TV shows like Rush Hour and Rosewood, co-wrote the movie Skinwalkers, and co-wrote and directed his own campy horror flick, Gravy, which came out in 2015.   

Speaking about Gravy in an interview with UPROXX, Roday said that "...directing is something that I have always, always, always known that I wanted to do and I take that seriously," before adding that this newfound focus had pushed his acting career "to the periphery a little bit."

He's also doing more theater work

Roday's also a born thespian, and he's been doing a lot of work in the Los Angeles theater scene and occasionally off-Broadway. In 2002, he and fellow New York University theater student Brad Raider founded the Red Dog Squadron theater troupe, which now holds a residence at the prestigious Circle Theater in L.A. 

As co-artistic director of the troupe, he has written, directed, and performed plays on stage with the group and still continues to work with them today, as well as teaching classes and workshops for those who want to know just how meant for the stage they are.  

He hasn't had much opportunity to star in a lead role in a huge movie

Even after Psych's success, Roday has never had the chance to take a large part in a big money movie. Whether that's by fate or by choice is unknown, but the only chances he's had to play a lead role other than Shawn Spencer have been in small, often independent films like Pushing Dead, where he played a gay writer dealing with AIDS and Danny Glover. 

For whatever reason, Hollywood hasn't been inclined to give him a chance to do anything except cameos (like appearing as a messenger boy in 2006's Beerfest and being a news anchor in 2009's Gamer) and supporting roles, and thus he's been unable to capture the big spotlight.  

He's frequently overshadowed by other cast members

Roday's had a lot of great opportunities in his nearly 20 year career to work on projects alongside huge, often legendary names, but the downside of that is those huge names can make it really hard for people to notice him and his work in the scheme of things.

Take his very first movie, Coming Soon, the "American Pie for girls." Roday was put alongside another movie newcomer, Ashton Kutcher—then in the middle of his run at That 70's Show—and Ryan Reynolds, a duo that even then had tons of eyes on them. Some other names Roday's been featured with include Robert de Niro, Eddie Murphy, Burt Reynolds, and not too long ago in the ensemble holiday film Christmas Eve, Patrick Stewart.

Roday's got plenty of talent, but being consigned to support roles with the likes of top stars like those has made it difficult for him to climb high in the acting world.

He's been critically and commercially panned

Another thing Roday's had issues with, both before and after Psych, is critics. For instance, when Variety did a review of Christmas Eve, they said that it "isn't likely to make anyone feel exceptionally merry," though it did also say that Roday had made "a character that could have come across as creepy seem likable." 

The great Roger Ebert fortunately had nothing bad (or anything) to say about Roday, but he did call The Dukes of Hazzard movie that Roday was part of  "a lame-brained, outdated wheeze." As if things couldn't get worse, the Rotten Tomatoes page on Roday shows none of his movies are above a fifty percent approval rating, and many of the TV shows he worked on ended up never making it past the pilot stage.    

Now, none of this is to say that the failure of these projects were his fault, but since studios are in the business of making money, and thus using actors who are bankable, being in too many flops might have beaten up Roday's mystique like it went for a trip through a wind tunnel filled with rocks.

He's returning to what made him famous

Psych has aged well over the years, and the "Psych-O's" have been clamoring for something to happen with the show again whenever Roday or any of the cast shows up in the public eye, like a reunion, a new return to the show, a special, for the love of God, something.

Well, now the fans have their wish in the form of an early Christmas miracle, as the original cast and creator Steve Franks are getting the band back together to make a special two hour Psych TV movie, scheduled to air on the USA Network in December 2017. Roday's also working extra on the film, since he co-wrote it with Franks and will be co-producing it along with Franks and Dulé Hill.

For Roday, it presents a couple of unique opportunities. By going back to his greatest success as Shawn Spencer, he can remind people just how entertaining he is, and the media buzz and coverage around the movie may attract that large scale attention Roday's been needing for a long time, which may lead to all the opportunities he could ever want.