Essential Viewing: 11 Josh Charles Movies and TV Shows You Must See


Some celebrities have a big name that fans immediately recognize. Others have less of a reputation but just as much talent.

Josh Charles is a mildly successful actor with over forty credits in his portfolio. His career has spanned movies and TV series since the 1980s. While most of his work is lesser known, he’s had a few breakthrough roles fans love.

Despite rarely being the main star, Charles has stayed relevant on screen, from his most known character in The Good Wife to his newest endeavor, FX’s The Veil. Some of his earlier work should be on everyone’s must-watch list.

Josh Charles started his acting career as a supporting character in the 1980s version of Hairspray. A year later, he scored his breakout role alongside Robin Williams — one of the greatest actors of the time — in Dead Poet’s Society.

With time, Charles achieved success starring on TV shows like Law & Order (S.V.U. and True Crime), Sports Night, In Treatment, and Masters of Sex.

His biggest role came in 2009 when he scored a recurring role on The Good Wife. Here are 11 essential viewing materials for Josh Charles fanatics.

The Veil (premiered April 2024)

Role: Max Peterson. Available for streaming on Hulu

F.X. is known for pushing the standard for what works, and they’ve done it again with the new drama, The Veil.

Show lead Elisabeth Moss stars as heroine Imogen Salter, an MI6 agent with a secretive backstory and many layers. She’s neck-deep in an undercover case to discover the true identity of a woman claiming to be a displaced widow refugee.

Josh Charles stars alongside Moss as a cocky C.I.A. agent who seems to think he’s the one in charge and the only person who can handle the case.

He embodies the brawny, rude, arrogant aura of an American, displaying all the negative traits other countries hate — including not working well with others.

Fans love the at-odds tensions between agencies and the rough-rider way that Charles tries and fails to rule over Moss.

Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later (2017)

Role: Blake (Camp Tigerclaw) Available for streaming on Netflix

Wet Hot American Summer is a satirical comedy that started with a movie back in 2001. Amid all the reboots and remakes, it’s not surprising the crude comedy got a series rendition and a reunion. 

In Ten Years Later, Josh returns as his former character, Blake, a jerky prep of a counselor with more beauty than brawn. We first met Blake in the first series spinoff of the movie Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.

It was hilarious to see Charles and his co-stars nail their stereotypes, especially for those around in the 1980s. Imagine what it would have been like to be a rich preppy like Josh’s character.

The icing on the cake was the chemistry between him and his character’s rival, played by Paul Rudd.

The entire WHAS franchise has boasted an incredible cast of names — some big and some small.

Given the number of serious roles Charles has taken on in recent years, with a few stints as the bad guy, it was refreshing to see him do something comical and slapstick vulgar.

I mean, who doesn’t love a man in a popped collar? Let alone Blake’s triple pop collar.

We Own This City (2022)

Role: Daniel Hersl. Available to stream on Max

We Own This City was a limited six-hour series documenting the true events within the corrupt Baltimore Police Department.

It highlighted the actions of the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF), consisting of plainclothes officers who abandoned their oath to uphold the law to get rich through robberies and assaults.

Josh has a record of lending his talents to portraying a police officer. He does an excellent job of capturing that aura of authority.

But his talents let him get away with not only playing a good guy cop but also a cop who’s turned bad. In We Own This City, he embraced his role as a dirty, crooked officer with a bad reputation.

Given how easy it is to love Charles in his roles, it was interesting to justifiably hate him as his role of a rough, crooked cop who racked up a ton of citizen complaints.

And seeing him in the courtroom gave viewers a taste of justice. But the man did look good in a jumpsuit.

You may recognize other cast members: Jon Bernthal, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Jamie Hector, Rob Brown, and Larry Mitchell.

Four Brothers (2005)

Role: Detective Fowler. Available to stream on Paramount+

Four Brothers is arguably one of the best eye-for-an-eye films of the 2000s. It could be because of all the big names playing alongside Josh Charles.

Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre 3000, and Garrett Hedlund star as four adopted brothers who are out for answers and to avenge the death of their beloved adoptive mother.

This movie took viewers on a wild ride of under-the-table deals, corrupt politics and police, and shameless killing as a way to silence the secrets.

Josh Charles starred as Detective Fowler, a corrupt cop eager to hide his part in the death of an innocent woman. His partner, played by the talented Terrence Howard, discovers his betrayal and corruption.

Charles made the move of his career by playing as a bad guy crooked cop. But he did the role so well that it wasn’t the only time we saw him on the wrong side of the moral compass.

S.W.A.T (2003)

Role: T. J. McCabe. Available with AMC+ subscription

Everyone has heard of S.W.A.T, whether it’s the 1975 original series, the series remake starring Shemar Moore, or the 2003 film adaptation starring Josh Charles.

Samuel L. Jackson portrayed the role of Hondo, an old-school SWAT leader who returned to start a new team.

His squad consisted of big names, like Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J, and Colin Farrell as Jim Street. SWAT got a call to escort a high-profile criminal across town.

But things got tricky when he issued a reward for freeing him from the police. That’s where Josh — who played T.J. — a SWAT officer turned bad guy, came in.

He took the criminal up on his offer alongside former SWAT member Brian Gamble, played by Jeremy Renner. Things didn’t end well for Josh or the criminal he chose over his oath to protect and serve.

Charles did a superb job at playing the backstabbing double agent to the point that [SPOILER ALERT!] we mourned his suicide, even though he was one of the bad guys.

The Good Wife (2009-2016)

Role: Will Gardner. Streaming on Paramount+

The Good Wife captured the trending obsession with legal dramas and failing marriages for seven serialized seasons.

The cast of lesser-known players included Julianna Marguiles as the lead and co-stars Matt Czuchry, Christine Baranski, Archie Panjabi, Alex Cumming, Chris Noth, Makenzie Vega, Zach Grenier, and Josh Charles.

Of this impressive list, only two stars left before its final seventh season. Along with co-star Panjabi, Charles also made his exit in Season Five.

Josh played Will Gardner, Alicia Florrick’s best friend and the inspiration for her return to the workforce after being a stay-at-home parent for 13 years.

Florrick found herself in need of a job after her husband’s arrest for a political sex scandal and corruption.

Fans loved the duo’s dynamic for five seasons, and many hoped that the couple would finally trade in their friends’ status for partners.

Alas, Josh had other ideas and left the show two seasons before it concluded. His on-screen death was one of the most memorable of the decade.

Taking on this role showed that Charles has no limits to the character he can play or the audience he can capture. To date, Will is the biggest character Josh has played.

Masters of Sex (2013-2016)

Role: Daniel Logan. Available for purchase from Amazon or streaming on YouTube

Josh took on the role of Daniel Logan in Masters of Sex a year after he left his role as series regular Will Gardner on Good Wife.

In Masters of Sex, we’re transported back to 1966, when prudishness was still a valued commodity, and sex was not discussed in polite conversation.

Charles’ role as Daniel Logan was a large leap from his buttoned-up righteous lawyer character. In Masters, he’s a shrewd self-starter businessman who wants to sell the public a scented aphrodisiac.

His big plan? Capture the scent of sex in a bottle.

For this, he reaches out to desire experts, Masters and Johnson. But things aren’t as simple as he expects, thanks to the expanding relationship between Masters, Johnson, and Masters’ wife, who is involved with both of them.

Dead Poet’s Society (1989)

Role: Knox Overstreet. Available to rent or purchase from Amazon

Dead Poet’s Society is one of Josh’s earliest works and one of the first reveals of his talented acting chops. He starred alongside fellow actor Ethan Hawke.

But more importantly, he got to work with the legendary Robin Williams. Talk about a career flex. It became a classic that is still a fan favorite for audiences of all ages and social standings.

DPS focused on Robin Williams’ role as a professor at an all-boys boarding school and a group of boys eager to break out of the roles expected of them. It was a true coming-of-age story, and Josh embraced it like a seasoned pro.

The Dead Poet’s Society is unrelated to Taylor Swift’s new album, The Tortured Poets Department.

However, DPS alumni Josh and Ethan Hawke appeared in one of her music videos for the song Fortnight, which features Post Malone.

Coincidence? Or a perfect advertisement opportunity?

Murder in Mississippi (1990)

Role: Andrew Goodman. Available to watch on YouTube

Another notable role played by the diversely talented Josh Charles was the role of a white civil rights activist in Deep South Mississippi during 1964, known as Freedom Summer.

While a work of fiction, Murder in Mississippi, and the characters are based on real events. Goodman, played by Charles, was one of three young men working to change black voting rights in racially torn Mississippi during the days of Jim Crowe.

Josh’s performance was refreshing and memorable. He perfectly captured the ignorant excitement of youth hoping to change the world. And when things got tense, his portrayal of a frightened yet determined young man tugged at the heartstrings.

Murder in Mississippi is one of Josh’s lesser-known roles. But it’s also one of his most powerful movies, truly demonstrating his mastery of the art.

Sports Night (1998-2000)

Role: Dan Rydell. Available to stream on Apple+

Before Josh Charles was Will Gardner on The Good Wife, he played sports anchor Dan Rydell in Sports Night for 43 episodes.

Although the show earned the director Thomas Schlamme an Emmy in 1998, it only lasted for two years.

The series had a great cast, starring Josh Charles and Peter Krause (Bobby from 9-1-1). But the obnoxious narcissism exuded from the characters was taxing, to say the least.

Other small names graced the two-year cast, including Ted McGinley, Felicity Huffman, Joshua Malina, and William H. Macy.

The show didn’t do much for Josh’s career, but it did give him experience as a lead actor and not just a supporting role. It came in handy when he moved on to other lead roles.

In Treatment (2008-2010, renewed 2021-present)

Role: Jake. Available for streaming on Max

One of the most impactful sessions in the series In Treatment occurred through the talents of Josh and his on-star wife, Embeth Davidtz.

On In Treatment, the couple goes to therapy to get help on a disagreement over children. After trying forever to have kids, Amy (Davidtz) finally conceives.

But not all is right with the world. Now, the problem is whether it’s the right time. The couple remains on opposite sides of the fence.

Josh is eager to keep the baby and grow their family, maybe hoping to regain the love their marriage has lost. However, Amy wants to end her pregnancy and keep things as they are.

Out of all the actors who played in the series during its original three-year run from 2008 to 2010, Charles’s work and emotions created lasting memories. He did a fantastic job getting the audience invested and on his side.

The diversity displayed by seasoned actor Josh Charles continues to entertain viewers across the decades. And he only seems to be getting better with each show.

What is your favorite work featuring Josh Charles? Hit the comments section below to share your thoughts!

Sara Trimble is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow her on X.

Originally Posted Here

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