During the season premiere of This Is Us, viewers were introduced to a new character, Jack Damon, played by actor Blake Stadnik.
While spoilers stood in the way of NBC revealing Stadnik’s casting earlier, fans are now itching to learn more about the actor and his background. What do we know about Stadnik? How long has he been in the business, and where will his character’s journey take him on this season of This Is Us?
1. Stadnik Is Legally Blind in Real Life
When he was 6, according to The LA Times, Stadnik was diagnosed with a form of juvenile macular degeneration.
The article writes, “Stadnik has Stargardt disease, meaning the light-sensitive cells in his retina have deteriorated, particularly in the area of the macula, where fine focusing occurs. His vision, he said, is blurry and he has blind spots and trouble seeing colors.”
The actor hails from Pittsburgh and graduated from Penn State’s musical theater program. He tells the LA Times of entertaining, “It just clicked… I don’t know if I’d be doing this without my condition. It’s actually been a blessing in disguise.”
According to his Instagram bio, Stadnik is an Advocate for Disabled Artists.
2. Stadnik Is Namely a Theater Actor
Casting the role of Jack Damon was “laborious”, in the words of ET. However, the producers knew from the get-go they wanted to cast a blind actor in the role of Jack Damon.
Series creator Dan Fogelman shared in an interview with ET, “It was an interesting casting process because we wanted to cast a blind actor. We had started our casting process very early, even in our off-season. I was looking for a leading man who was without sight and who could be funny, charming, accessible and sweet… One of the wonderful things about our casting department was it wasn’t like they only found Blake. There were a bunch of really viable, wonderful casting choices that came through our casting department. Blake, when he came to us, was clearly the guy.”
Up until his role in This Is Us, Stadnik was mainly involved in local theater productions. Fogelman tells ET, “He was actually in a local production in Colorado that we had to get him out of in order to shoot the order, but he had never acted on camera before… We wanted to find an actor who could be a leading man and [was] very handsome and very funny and looked great with his bare abs on national television, but also be able to stand in the Greek [Theatre] in front of a live audience and actually perform and sing a song. There were a lot of boxes to check.”
A musical theater actor at heart, Stadnik has been involved in productions like Newsies, Sweeney Todd, 42nd Street, and Guys and Dolls.
3. He Is the Adult Son of Toby & Kate
As fans of the show know now after the premiere, Stadnik’s character of Jack Damon is the son of Kate and Doby on the show.
His addition to the cast brings the timeline forward several years in the future. As ET points out, viewers have seen a “bed-ridden” Rebecca, and Jack’s existence moves the timeline forward “about 10-plus years after that.”
Fogelman tells ET, “When we talk about the endgame of that storyline that’s already been established with ‘her,’ it’s kind of where this story for our Pearson family — the immediate family of the Big 3 — and the family heads toward… but it doesn’t mean it’s the endgame in terms of timelines.”
4. ‘This Is Us’ Marks His Television Debut
During the season 4 premiere of This Is Us, Stadnik posted the above selfie to Instagram, commenting, “Tonight’s the night of my television debut! Check out my story later this evening to see which network to watch. Thanks.”
5. He Is Not the Only New Cast Member to Join the Show This Season
Along with Stadnik, other new faces have joined the Season 4 cast. And some of those faces are quite familiar. Malik is played by When They See Us’ Asante Blackk, while Cassidy is played by Jennifer Morrison. And Stadnik’s love interest on the show is played by Auden Thonton.
Fans may recognize Jennifer Morrison from the show House, where she played Dr. Allison Cameron. She also played Emma Swan in ABC’s Once Upon a Time. In the words of TVLine, “The Once Upon a Time alum was simply stunning in her This Is Us debut, crafting a complex, wrenching study of a woman dangerously close to the end of her rope.”
Blackk, meanwhile, plays Malik, a young father and the potential new love interest of Déjà. Recently, Blackk, who is just 17, was nominated for an Emmy for his role as Kevin Richardson on When They See Us.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
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