Thursday, May 12, 2016

Justin Berfield was eight years old when he became a working actor. For the next 13 years, he was educated on backstages and worked days in front of the camera. In 1995, he was cast in The WB comedy Unhappily Ever After, a completely forgettable show. But it lasted a full five seasons and 100 episodes. In its final season, he was one of 3,000 actors who auditioned for the role of Anakin Skywalker for The Phantom Menace, but he lost out to Jake Lloyd.

The year after his first series ended, he was cast on Malcolm in the Middle, a superb Fox comedy that lasted seven seasons and 151 episodes. The show essentially launched Jane Kaczmarek and Bryan Cranston into stardom. At age 20, Berfield became the youngest performer ever to have two 100-episode TV series.

Berfield could have become a major star, but chose not to. As "Reese", Berfield was increasingly asked to go shirtless in the show's final four seasons to put his magnificent body on display and increase ratings. Berfield's character became less of a bully and one-note johnny, and more complex. And the show toyed more and more with Reese's sexuality. It was Berfield, with his broad shoulders and highly toned pectorals and big package, who began to break out as the show's star (not Frankie Muniz).

In real life, Berfield went into real estate after leaving Malcolm in the Middle, but suffered some heavy losses in the Great Recession. He still buys and sells real estate, but has also gone into movie and television production in a small way.

Berfield, who is Jewish, categorically refuses to discuss his sexuality or dating life. That only raises eyebrows in Hollywood, where men are almost required to be seen in public with various women.

That last photo is of him in 2016. He's still gorgeous. Unmarried at age 30. Hmm...

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