Wednesday, December 8, 2021

From ‘The Cosby Show’ to ‘The Resident’ – The Evolution of Actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner Continues

Malcolm Jamal Warner-as-Dr.-AJ-Austin-The-Resident-FOX
Malcolm Jamal Warner

*Actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner has come a long way since starring as Theo Huxtable, the likable and quick-witted kid on the long-running classic television series “The Cosby Show.”  The show aired for eight consecutive seasons on NBC beginning in 1984.  Following “The Cosby Show,” Warner’s career has taken some interesting pathways in Hollywood.

In addition to securing an array of acting roles, he has also procured opportunities as a director, producer, musician, and poet.  On the personal side, he is a relatively new father.

Warner currently stars as cardiothoracic surgeon AJ Austin on the medical drama “The Resident.”  The Fox series follows the lives and duties of Austin and other staff members at Chastain Park Memorial Hospital.  Filmed in Atlanta, the show is now in its fourth season.

Warner describes AJ Austin as a volatile and dramatic doctor with overwhelming talents but is extremely difficult to keep in line.

“He’s very arrogant and very brash; I love that about AJ Austin,” said Warner, with a laugh.  “He is comfortable in his skin, and with his skill set as a doctor, he really doesn’t care what other people think about him.  He’s there to tell you the truth, straight, no chaser.  And how it lands with people is of no concern to him.  I love it because he gives me a chance to play someone who I don’t allow myself to be in real life.”

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To help move people on from the youth role of Theo Huxtable, Warner said it hasn’t always been easy, especially when he began to look for more dramatic roles after the show.  It didn’t help when fans of the show called Warner, Theo, when he was away from the set, and even more after the show ended.

“There are some people who think I get mad when people call me Theo,” said Warner.  “because I’m quick to point out that my name is Malcolm and not Theo.  Even during the height of ‘The Cosby Show and I was still playing the role of Theo, I never answered to the name.  I think a lot of times, people took offense to that because they think I’m taking offense to being called Theo.”

Warner admits, even today, 37 years after “The Cosby Show” first aired,  it’s been difficult shaking the character Theo.

“That’s been a constant element of what I’ve dealt with in my post-Cosby life,” he said.  “Because the image of Theo is so etched into people’s minds.  So often, it would take auditions for me to show  people that I was actually more than what they had in mind.  What’s been great is having four seasons on ‘The Resident’ because there is enough body of work and highlights, where anyone can look at the show and realize that Theo is nowhere to be found.”

Before his starring role on “The Resident,” Warner starred in several dozen  television shows.  With the inclusion of  “The Cosby Show,” his body of artistic work has involved either acting and/or directing for  such shows as “Matt Houston,” “Malcolm & Eddie,” “Jeremiah,” “Listen Up!”  “Reed Between the Lines,” “Sneaky Pete,” “American Crime Story:  The People v. O.J. Simpson,” among others.  As director of the AIDS awareness video “Timeout:  The Truth about HIV, AIDS, and YOU,” Warner earned the prestigious NAACP Key of Life Image Award.

On the silver screen, Warner has appeared in such movies as “Drop Zone,” “Fools Gold,” “Restaurant,” “The List,” and more.

Besides acting and directing, Warner has raised eyebrows as a poet and an accomplished bass player. Warner won a Grammy Award in 2015 for “Best Traditional R&B Performance as a Featured Performer” on Robert Glasper’s version of the Stevie Wonder classic, “Jesus Children of America.”  Warner also fronts his own jazz-funk band “Miles Long,” which has performed at numerous jazz festivals.  The group has opened for guitar great Earl Klugh and the late Luther Vandross.

“Music is still a big part of what I do; it’s a big part of my expression as an artist,” said Warner.  “But when I pick up my bass now, I have to be more intentional because I have limited time because of other commitments to acting, and now as a father of a toddler.”

For now, the beat goes on for Malcolm-Jamal Warner, as he portrays the egotistical, arrogant, and obnoxious Dr. AJ Austin on “The Resident.”

“For people who have not tuned into ‘The Resident,” I will say that it’s very much a binge-worthy show,” said Warner. “I encourage people to get on board and check the show out.  And for the people who do watch and have been big supporters, I give a huge thank you!”

Warner adds …

“One of the many things that I really love about ‘The Resident’ is its courageousness when it comes to dealing with the negative aspects of the medical field,” he said.  “Our show deals head-on with medical malpractice, hospital mess-ups, hospital coverups, and much more.  But it has also given us a chance to shine a wonderful light and represent the healthcare workers and frontline workers who are the real-life superheroes.”



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