Jesse Metcalf: A Life of a Hollywood Star

How the star of ‘Till’ found the strength to play ‘the mother lode’ of roles

The story of how “Till” actor Jesse Metcalf went from being a kid in Hollywood with dreams of becoming a movie star to a young woman who is finding her calling on television is a story that few understand and a story that few tell.

I first met Metcalf in a small, intimate theater in the heart of Hollywood, once home of the Academy of Motion Pictures. I was a young reporter then, and I’d always been a big fan of his. In his first acting role, he was playing the son of the title character in the film “Till” opposite his wife, Lauren Graham. I was there and the movie was playing when I sat down with him. He looked about 25 years old that day and had just returned from filming in Ireland, where he visited his parents after a seven-year absence.

In that meeting, I got to ask him about his career and the challenges he faced. We talked about how he had started out as a child actor in movies like “Back to the Future” and “Till,” and how he had grown to be a leading man in the movies. I remember this so clearly.

“I had no idea how much fun acting was going to be,” he said, the smile in his eyes giving way to tears. “I just knew it was going to be a great opportunity to meet my family and have a good time — the ultimate in all of us.”

The family thing, I understood, didn’t matter to Mr. Metcalf as much as it did to his fans and collaborators, because they were who he was in life.

I didn’t know then that, in the years before he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for “Till,” his life had been as dramatic and complex as those of his characters in his movies. I

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