Desperate’s Love Interest
“This is my third ABC show over the last four years, so we were afraid that nobody would find it. ABC was really struggling and so we just weren’t very confident that it would find an audience. So no, we never in a million years anticipated (the show’s success, even though we knew it was good enough.” James Denton on Desperate Housewives
American actor James Denton reached television stardom as Mike Delfino, Teri Hatcher’s very handsome neighbor/love interest, in the ABC smash hit series “Desperate Housewives” (2004-current), where he was handed two SAG Awards and a Teen Choice Award. Before the huge success, he was known as the shrilly sociopath Mr. Lyle in the NBC thriller “The Pretender” (1997-2000) and worked in the ABC failed series “Philly” (2000-2001) and Threat Matrix” (2003-2004). Denton has appeared as a guest star in a number of series like “Dark Skies” (1996), “Ally McBeal” (2000), “The Drew Carey Show” (2002) and “JAG” (2003). On the movie front, the All-American-looking Tennessee native took home a 2006 Modesto ShockerFest Award for his starring turn in Assumption, a 16-minute short directed by Christopher R. Keller. His other credits include Face/Off (1997), Primary Colors (1998), Beautiful Dreamer (2006), Ascension Day (2007) and 3/5 of a Man (2007). Presently, he has completed filming the movie Wanted: Undead or Alive (2007), costarring Saturday Night Live alumni Chris Kattan.
After his marriage to actress Jenna Lyn Ward ended in divorce in 2000, Denton tied the knot with his present wife, Erin O’Brien Denton, a personal trainer, in 2002. They have a 4-year-old boy named Sheppard and 2-year-old girl named Malin. He dated country singer Deana Carter in high school.
Childhood and Family:
“I was born and raised in the South, which is pretty conservative.” James Denton
Son of J T Denton, a dentist who was active in community theater, James Thomas Denton Jr. was born on January 20, 1963, in Nashville, Tennessee. The second of three children, he grew up in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, where he attended Goodlettsville High School, and in Atlanta, Georgia. James majored in television journalism at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, from which he graduated with honors with a B.A in advertising. He played basketball in high school and college.
In 1997, the Southern Baptist married actress Jenna Lyn Ward from the 1993 TV series “The Untouchables,” but they divorced three years later, in 2000. He next married Erin O’Brien Denton, a personal trainer, in December 16, 2002. Three months after the ceremony, the couple welcomed their first child, son Sheppard, in March 2003. James’ wife gave birth to a 7-pound-5-ounce baby girl, Malin O’Brien Denton, on March 22, 2005.
Although his father was a community theater actor, James Denton did not make his start until he was 23. His first stage role was George Gibbs in a production of “Our Town.” He went on to perform theater productions in North Carolina, Chicago and California, while maintaining his day occupation as a radio salesman in Nashville. After four years, the aspiring actor made his way to Chicago to pursue a full-time acting career.
In Chicago, Denton worked with The Griffin Theater and the Strawdog Theater Ensemble. Making his debut as Stanley” in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” he enjoyed one of his best performances playing a Kentucky preacher, C.C. Showers, in “The Diviners,” from which he picked up a Joseph Jefferson nomination for Best Actor. Other credits include “Lapin Lapin,” playing the terrorist Bebert, “Flesh and Blood” and “the Night Hank Williams Died,” where he also contributed to the music.
After an extensive stage career, Denton stepped in front of the camera as Ray Higgs in the thriller Thieves Quartet (1994), which he followed by starring as Nick in Jeff Marpe’s Hunter’s Moon (1995). A series of television guest spots, including one in “Sliders” (Fox, 1996) and “Dark Skies” (NBC, 1996), followed before he booked his first series regular in the NBC drama/thriller “The Pretender” (1997-2000). While playing the spine-chilling sociopath Mr. Lyle, he continued to take roles in films like the Bette Midler and Dennis Farina comedy romantic That Old Feeling (1997), director John Woo’s Face/Off (1997, starred John Travolta and Nicolas Cage) and the star-studded Primary Colors (1998, opposite Emma Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates and John Travolta). He also had guest starring roles in such shows as “Ally McBeal” and “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place“(both 2000).
Following the demise of “The Pretender,” Denton could be seen as Tom Jordan in an episode of “The West Wing” (2000) and Judge Augustus Ripley during the second season of the ABC short-lived drama serial “Philly” (2000-2001), co-created by Steven Bocho. He also recreated the role of Mr. Lyle for two television films released on TNT: The Pretender 2001 and The Pretender: Island of the Haunted (both 2001). After appearances in “The Drew Carey Show” (2002) and “JAG” (2003), Denton made his return to series TV as a regular in ABC’s “Threat Matrix” (2003-2004), where he starred as the leader of a privileged Homeland Security team, John Kilmer. Unfortunately for the actor, the series had a short life.
“None of the cast anticipated just how big the show would become or that it would emerge as one of the real winners of the 2004 season.” James Denton on Desperate Housewives
The Tennessee native’s luck started to change when he landed the regular role of Mike Delfino, the mysterious hunky carpenter who fascinated Teri Hatcher’s “Desperate” character, in the ABC series “Desperate Housewives.” Debuting in 2004, the show soon became a hit and went on to receive the 2006 and 2005 Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy, among many others honors. As for Denton, he and the rest of the cast jointly earned two Screen Actors Guilds for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, one in 2005 and the other in 2006. On his own, he was handed a 2006 Teen Choice for TV - Choice Actor.
The show’s success subsequently rocketed Denton’s popularity. He was chosen as one of People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2004 and tapped to host the Miss America pageant, which was held in Las Vegas instead of the traditional Atlantic City, in 2006. He also found himself starring in the 2006 movies Beautiful Dreamer, opposite Brooke Langton and Colin Egglesfield, and Assumption. More recently, in 2007, he hosted the Cracker Barrel: Songs of the Year Concert on television and played Brother John in the history film Ascension Day, a role he later reprised for the upcoming 3/5 of a Man (2007). He also has a staring role as a soldier on the run from the Union Army in the Western film Undead or Alive: A Zombedy (2007), directed by Glasgow Phillips. The forthcoming film also stars Chris Kattan and Navi Rawat.