Kevin Rahm, who grew up in these parts, doesn't want to be a star; he just wants to be an actor with a steady gig.
"I'm lucky in the sense that I haven't become famous," he said. "Being a star isn't a goal, but I love being an actor. I've consistently been working on TV shows—which is a pleasant problem to have—and there is nothing better for an actor than knowing you have a summer off when you know you have a good job waiting."
The 1989 Atlanta (Texas) High School graduate ended up on the small screen by way of a drama class at Brigham Young University. "I was studying pre-law, thinking I wanted to be a lawyer," he said. "Then I realized I just wanted to act on LA Law."
He changed his major to drama and in 1994 won the Irene Ryan Award for best college actor. In 1995 he won his first role in a USA Movie of the Week titled "Out of Annie's Past." Then, in 1996, he decided to leave BYU for the Hollywood Hills and an acting career. Rahm auditioned and won several parts in both movies and TV series, but in 1999 the one that gave him a reason to quit waiting tables was the TV series "Everything's Relative."
"Before that I had played a Trill in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine—which was really cool—besides dozens of other characters in shows and movies" he said. Those other shows included "Beverly Hills 90210," "Touched By An Angel" and "Silk Stalkings."
When his role in "Everything's Relative" ended after four episodes, he was given the role of Dr. Danny Kozak on "Jesse," a TV series starring Christina Applegate. Since that show, Rahm has seamlessly rolled through parts in "Judging Amy" (Kyle McCarty), "Desperate Housewives" (Lee McDermott), "Mad Men" (Ted Chaough), "Bates Motel" (Bob Paris), and "Madame Secretary" (Mike B).
Sprinkled throughout those recurring roles are guest-starring roles in "Grey's Anatomy," "CSI: NY," "CSI: Miami," "Friends," "Scrubs," and "The Mentalist," to name a few. His 20-plus movie credits include "Alfie", "LA Blues," "Nightcrawler" and "Clinical." And, although he is credited as an actor in the 1998 Fox TV movie Legion of Fire: Killer Ants, he says "I know I auditioned, but I honestly don't remember being in this movie. It's the strangest thing."
Even though Rahm has been acting steady since 1995, not many people in Atlanta, Texas, realized just who they were seeing on their screen. According to his classmate, Eric Cain, "I was the biggest 'Mad Men' fan. I watched every episode on Netflix. I was so bummed out when I got to the last episode that I actually read the credits. I was floored when I discovered that Rahm was one of the main characters. I wonder if I would have viewed the show differently had I known it was him."
Another classmate, Melissa Morris recalls Rahm's comedic roots: "I remember him eating mayo straight from a packet to gross out Stacy Roberts Bius!"
"I met Kevin Rahm in 1987 in Ms. Sue Tomberlain's Speech and Drama Class when he moved to Atlanta from Bossier, La.," said another classmate, Natalie Scott. "My friends and I were intimidated by him because he was from the big city; so we made up contests with him. We always won because he didn't know he was playing."
They became good friends, Scott said, and had a great time participating in UIL One Act Play competitions.
"We mostly made fun of each other and goofed around, but he was clearly more talented than the rest of us," she recounted. "I saw him perform on stage in LA about 20 years ago, and he was charmed. Obviously, Ted in 'Mad Men' is my favorite character of his, but his theatre performances are special. My son is pursuing acting now. Rahm has been very kind in advising me on protocol of auditions and acting terms. I am so happy to have known him back then. He is a generous friend and accomplished actor."
Currently Rahm is in his third season as Capt. Brooks Avery on the Fox TV series "Lethal Weapon," which has been in the headlines lately for the controversial firing of Clayne Crawford, who played the part of Martin Riggs.
"I really enjoyed working with Clayne. He was a team partner and will be missed," Rahm said. "But I like the new guy (Seann William Scott), too, and believe he will do a great job."
Of all the characters he has had the opportunity to play, Rahm says his role as Lee McDermott on "Desperate Housewives" was his very favorite. "I loved being able to play a silly role," he said, "and it was a great ensemble full of great actors."
Rahm brings a comedic delivery to most of the roles he plays, adding a light touch to even the heaviest of roles. "All of those guys are in me," he said. "It's just a balance of what they (the writers) have written versus who I am."
While Kevin has worked with many well-known actors, there are a few that have left impressions on him.
"Elizabeth Moss ('Mad Men') and Vera Farmiga ('Bates Motel') are just so good they actually took me out of the scene for a moment," Kevin said. "I had to work to hold it together."
He said Jon Hamm and Tea Leone, the stars of "Mad Men" and "Madame Secretary," are two actors who are similar in that they make everyone around them better. "They understand that the better everyone else is, the better they look."
If Rahm had a chance, "The Walking Dead" is a show he would "love to have a role on." The one actor he would love to work with, he said, would be Jeff Bridges. "He brings so much to everything he is in. He's like the rug in a room, he just brings it all together."
As far as watching movies, he favors anything directed by Stanley Kubrick and anything about Vietnam. "As a young guy raised by women, I guess that's my connection to masculinity," Rahm said.
But it was more than just a connection to masculinity. It was a connection to his father, U.S. Army Capt. Arnold John Rahm, a helicopter pilot who was shot down in spring 1972 over a tire factory at Binh Duong during his second tour of duty. Capt. Rahm was 22 years old when he died, and Kevin was only 16 months old at the time.
As a young actor at the age of 22, Rahm played the role of a Vietnam Prisoner of War in the Hanoi Hotel, and the irony wasn't lost on him.
"I was playing a Vietnam soldier, but my dad lived it," he said. "My whole life has been colored by that."
Soon after his father's death, his mother, Sue, moved him from his birth place on the base at Mineral Wells, Texas, back to their families' hometown of Shreveport, LA, where both of Rahm's grandfathers had been stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base. There, he attended Loyola Prep High School, an all-boys Catholic school. While a student there, he filmed his very first commercial for Jackson Jewelers—his uncle's Shreveport store.
Even though he attended a Catholic school, his mother was raising Rahm as a Mormon, and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"I had met a lot of Mormon teenagers in the Atlanta, Texas, area through church events, and I saw that they were able to be popular in school and still keep their Mormon values," Rahm recalled. "I was being a typical boy and getting into some mischief, so I thought if I moved to Atlanta I could be a better Mormon. So, my mom moved and enrolled me in Atlanta High School my junior year."
Even though he strived to be a good Mormon, went on his two-year mission and attended Brigham Young University, he didn't feel completely satisfied. "My father had converted to Mormonism just for my mother, so I always felt like I was taking up his cause, if you will," he said. "But the time came when I just didn't feel like I had to do that anymore."
These days, when not in front of the camera, you can find Rahm in his Sacramento, Calif., home spending time with his 4-year old daughter, Hunter, and wife, Amy, a cardio-thoracic surgeon. On this day, while we talk on the phone, he is also preparing a lamb shepherd pie.
"While Amy was finishing up her med school, I watched a lot of Gordon Ramsey and loved trying to recreate the dishes," he said. "I actually got pretty good."
Kevin and Amy wed on a Hollywood soundstage in 2012, and she can be seen with Rahm on the red carpet during the award season. It was because of her career they moved from Los Angeles to Sacramento, which, he says, has a great theater district. "I really miss doing theater a lot, but it would be hard to fit it in right now," he said. "It's been almost eight years since I acted in the South Coast Rep Theatre."
One would think having a surgeon in the family would come in handy when there's a child in the house, but Rahm soon realized that isn't the case. "Our daughter fell and hit the coffee table and busted her lip, and Amy just lost it. Well, if she's that upset, I felt something must really be wrong. We ran over to a neighbor who was a doctor, then went to the ER. Hunter needed stitches, but it wasn't as bad as either of us thought."
In his early acting career, Rahm was often mistaken for actor James Spader, who is several years older.
"I don't get that much anymore since he's aged and lost some hair," Rahm said. However, there was a time when it was hard for him to convince some fans otherwise. "I was attending a movie premier—walking in on the red carpet—and a lady behind the rope kept calling me to sign an autograph, but she thought I was James Spader. I kept telling her I wasn't, but she wouldn't give up; so I signed his name to make her happy."
While Rahm hasn't made it back home in a few years, his little brother, Tim Marrs. still lives in the area; and sister Kelly Gruel lives in Georgia. "Tim is four years younger, and Kelly is eight years younger than me," he said, "so we were really spaced wide apart growing up."
For now, when he's not working, he enjoys time spent with his wife and daughter, and hopes to bring his Harley-Davidson out of storage in LA to Sacramento soon. Between acting jobs, he'll continue to cook and play daddy and hope for more acting work.
So far, Kevin has been given the green light on the next season of "Lethal Weapon," and more episodes of "Madame Secretary." That's enough to give him steady work, and that's all he really wants.