The Journal Gazette
Saturday, September 11, 2021 1:00 am

Showtime debuts 'American Rust'

George Dickie | Zap2it

Del Harris is a man whose calm, composed exterior belies a war going on inside.

As played by Jeff Daniels (“The Newsroom,” “Steve Jobs”) in the Showtime drama series “American Rust,” premiering Sunday, he's the chief of police in Buell, Pennsylvania, a forlorn Rust Belt town outside of Pittsburgh that's pockmarked by deserted factories and empty, decaying buildings.

A veteran of the war in Iraq, he takes a cocktail of opioids to keep his PTSD at bay but struggles with maintaining the diminishing dosages his doctor prescribed. He has a love interest in Grace (Maura Tierney, “The Affair”), but she also has an ex-husband who won't go away and a son, Billy (Alex Neustaedter, “Colony”), who has a propensity for getting into trouble after turning down a football scholarship and getting dumped by the love of his life, Lee (newcomer Julia Mayorga).

But despite everything, Del still pines for Grace and is protective of Billy, even stepping in to get the kid probation after he clubbed a guy with a board in a bar fight. But when a dead body turns up in an abandoned mill and Billy is implicated, Del must decide the lengths to which he will go to protect the son of the woman he loves.

Based on the novel by Philipp Meyer, the series is the story of good people making bad choices in places that progress seems to have left behind, the type of people that Daniels, a native Michigander, knows well.

“I am one of those folks that comes from a part of the country that can feel less, can feel inferior, the fly-over country, the you're-not-from-the-coasts,” the actor explains.

“So I understand that. I'd lived with it as an actor going in and sitting in waiting rooms against people from Yale and Juilliard and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. I understand those people and that person,” he added.

Subscribe to our newsletters

* indicates required