The latest NBC family drama “Council of Dads” premieres March 24th.
The show centers on Scott Perry (Tom Everett Scott) who appoints a “council” of friends to help raise his five children after a cancer diagnosis. Based on the book by Bruce Feiler, Council of Dads is a touching look at redefining the definition of family.
J. August Richards stars as Dr. Oliver Post, Perry’s doctor and a friend of his wife, Robin (Sarah Wayne Callies), who is the leading member of the council. Richards sits down with The Knockturnal to discuss representation on television, how Council of Dads fits in at NBC, and even his own personal council of friends.
The Knockturnal: What originally drew you to such a unique story?
J. August Richards: The writing, for sure. This came into my world as a script being sent to me from my agent. I read it and I just thought, ‘yeah, this is everything I’m about. So if I could do this, then I would really be in alignment with my purpose.’ But at the same time, I was afraid to want it because there’s so much disappointment. There was a time when I felt like if I auditioned for the role of J. August Richards, they would tell me they had stronger choices [haha]. You never know if you’re going to get the part or not, but fortunately, I did. I feel really passionate about the show, and I think it’s just a perfect time for a show like this because it’s about people showing up for one another in a time of stress.
The Knockturnal: Exactly, and that’s a really beautiful way of putting it too. Your character is so integral to the whole storyline in the pilot. He’s kind of the bearer of good news, the bearer of bad news, and then ultimately at the end, you see how it all plays out. Can you relate to the role of Dr. Oliver Post at all?
J. August Richards: It’s so funny because at first, I was like ‘oh gosh I’m so similar, I am this person.’ But then as I got to know him more and moreover the ten episodes, I was like ‘oh no, this is the person I want to be but I’m not quite yet.’ I was so struck by the size of his heart and how he gave so much to the people around him. And it’s not fictional, it’s not like idealized. It comes from a place of having walked through hell and now you’re on the other side. It comes from a place of pain and that’s how he’s able to open his heart so wide. I’m kind of in awe of my character and I know that sounds like crazy talk but I can feel his spirit as a real person. I aspire to be like him.
The Knockturnal: That’s what I think everyone strives for as an actor, that your character is a part of you and you’re a part of him. In the pilot, we see time move so quickly. We essentially see the circle of life. Will that be the pace of every episode?
J. August Richards: One of the things I think makes this show unique is that time is definitely a device. Some episodes take place over the course of a day, some episodes take place over the course of a month. One episode, in particular, takes place over five holidays. It’s just those holidays. So time is certainly a device on this show, you will definitely see more of that.
The Knockturnal: Will Council of Dads utilize flashbacks or flash-forwards, similar to This Is Us which airs before the premiere?
J. August Richards: Absolutely not. We do not do flashbacks and flash-forwards. I understand the natural comparison to This Is Us but I think once people see multiple episodes they will understand why we are a totally different show. I’m a big fan of This Is Us. I love the way they tell stories but we tell stories in a completely different way. Our family is just a different family and we take place in the South which is a critical and crucial part of the storytelling. It’s such a compliment to be compared to This Is Us but I think over time people will understand we have our own identity.
The Knockturnal: I think that was definitely evident in the pilot. It has more of a feel of The Fosters or Parenthood, all these fantastic shows.
J. August Richards: I’m so happy to hear you say that because that’s exactly how I expect audiences will feel about it. I think they’ll think it’s one thing and then they’ll see it and say ‘oh this has its own flavor.’
The Knockturnal: The pilot is like a mini-movie too! There is so much going on. Can you tease anything about what we can expect to see from your character during the season? Or something you’re looking forward to play out onscreen?
J. August Richards: Everything. I’m so grateful for the writers to delve so deeply into my character. It’s so nice to be playing a fully realized three-dimensional black gay man who’s married to another black man and has a daughter. That’s not something we see every day on television. I’m in the middle of the docuseries Visible on AppleTV+ and I feel like this is such a step forward for LGBT and especially black LGBT characters on television. I’m really honored to be part of that.
The Knockturnal: Council of Dads is obviously about a core friend group and the love for each others’ families within that. Do you have a set of friends that you would consider your own “council”?
J. August Richards: Oh God yes. I have a few clusters of friends which is amazing, but my main cluster of friends are people I went to college with at USC. We call ourselves the USC Clique. My council is more of a council of women. We have a group chat and I’m the only guy in the group. It’s five women and me and they advise me on everything.
The Knockturnal: That could be the spinoff show: Council of Moms!
J. August Richards: Oh absolutely, for sure.
“Council of Dads” premieres Tuesday, March 24th, 10/9c, NBC