“Never Have I Ever” is a coming-of-age show on Netflix about an Indian American girl dealing with the premature death of her father, navigating the tumultuous waters of high school life, and trying to reconcile her strained relationship with her mother. Season 2 is going to be debuting soon, and fans are eager to see what’s in store — especially since the show is slated to introduce some interesting new characters to the ensemble cast.
One of those characters is Dr. Jackson: a handsome, charismatic dermatologist who moves his office next door to Devi’s high-strung mother’s medical practice (and may or may not be a potential love interest). Fans of the series will have to check out the second season to find out for sure — but one thing that is for sure is that there’s a really good chance you’ve either seen or heard the actor who plays him somewhere before. And we’ve got the lowdown on some of his most famous projects.
He played Elam Ferguson in Hell on Wheels
The man playing Dr. Jackson in “Never Have I Ever” is rapper Common, and he’s had his fair share of acting credits through the years. While most rappers might be content to settle for a successful music career, that wasn’t in the cards for Common. One of his first high-profile acting roles was on the AMC drama “Hell on Wheels.” The narrative of the series revolves around a former Confederate soldier in post-Civil War America who is hell-bent on getting revenge against the Union soldiers who murdered his wife. It lasted for five seasons, all of which can be viewed on Amazon Prime video today.
In the show, Common plays Elam Ferguson, a former slave who was taught to read by his former owner and biological father. His character befriends Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), the series’ protagonist, after freeing him from some dangerous captors. Their odd-couple-style friendship persists for four out of the show’s five seasons until Elam loses his sanity after a vicious bear attack. As he spirals deeper and deeper into madness, Cullen eventually has to kill him in self-defense.
He was James Bevel in Selma
As influential as Common was on the “Selma” movie soundtrack, he also had a significant part in the 2014 film. It may not have won him any acting awards, but he did get to portray James Bevel, a well-known civil rights leader who worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, and Hosea Williams in order to get the Voting Rights Act of 1965 signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Bevel was so intrinsically involved in the civil rights movement that he was literally by Dr. King’s side on the day he was assassinated, according to SNCC Digital.
For those who don’t know, “Selma” is a dramatic portrayal of the historical Civil Rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, which took place in 1965. People were so horrified by the violence unleashed by police against the peaceful protesters that it forced the government to pass new civil rights legislation. In addition to the awards that it won that year, “Selma” was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and four separate nominations for Golden Globe Awards.
He played Rashad in Barbershop: The Next Cut
“Barbershop” is a cult classic movie franchise centered around a barbershop located on the South Side of Chicago and the lives of the people who work at and frequent the establishment. It stars Ice Cube, Eve, Nicki Minaj, and, of course, Common as Rashad. Although it only scored a 66% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, it also got a 90% score from critics.
Rashad has a lot on his plate in this movie. His teenage son is headed down a dark path toward joining a gang. His new wife Terri (Eve) is suspicious that he and a female coworker, Draya (Minaj), might be having an affair. His best friend/business partner Calvin (Ice Cube) is thinking about moving the barbershop to a completely different part of the city. Because the movie is supposed to be a lighthearted comedy like its predecessors, everything ends up working out for Rashad in the end — but not without a healthy dose of drama along the way.
He got trigger happy in John Wick: Chapter 2
The “John Wick” movies have a reputation for gratuitous gun violence and heart-pounding action scenes that drive audiences wild. The three existing films in the franchise have received the equivalent of a B+ rating from sites like Rotten Tomatoes and can be partially credited with the resurgence of Keanu Reeves’ career in recent years. In “Chapter 2,” John Wick must go up against formidable opponent Cassian after he is contracted to murder his ward. It’s a fight to the death, and since the third movie in the series isn’t called “John Wick: Chapter 3 — The Rise of Cassian,” we’re pretty sure you can guess who wins that duel.
Does this role mean that Common wants more action in his Hollywood career? Well, if any film would set him up to be the next action star, a supporting role in a “John Wick” flick is definitely a good ticket to punch. His current projects don’t exactly lend themselves to that kind of plot — one being a coming-of-age comedy-drama about a teenage girl and the other being a grittier show about life in Chicago — but it’s clear from his performance in “John Wick: Chapter 2” that Common certainly has enough range as an actor to pull it off.
His character Rafiq does a lot of work behind the scenes on The Chi
In “The Chi”, Common plays a devout Muslim trying to live his best life in the city of Chicago. And while he’s only appeared in four episodes, he also has an executive producer credit for 34 of the show’s 40 episodes (and counting). In a promotional clip on the show’s Facebook page, Common talks a bit about how he loves the fact that his character is trying to do good in the world, but also has some conflicts and inner demons that he has to deal with. He also adds that he’s done a good bit of research talking to Muslim friends about what it’s like to be Black and Muslim in America in order to portray the character as accurately as possible.
By the way, is anyone noticing a theme here? Between “The Chi,” “Barbershop,” and his Grammy Award-winning song “Southside,” we think it’s safe to say that Common has a deep, emotional connection to his hometown of Chicago. But if that connection means that fans get to see more high-quality, compelling entertainment from him, then we’re on board.