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One of Your Favorite Character Actors Just Had a Memorable Guest Role on Extended Family

Extended Family guest star Stephen McKinley Henderson's impressive acting career spans the stage, movies, and TV.

By Joe Dziemianowicz

Stage and screen actor Stephen McKinley Henderson has mastered the art of making a major impression in every role, large or small, doing it time and again in such films as Fences, Lady Bird, Dune, and Manchester by the Sea.

How to Watch

Watch Extended Family on NBC and Peacock.

Now, he's made an impact on our television screens. Henderson is true to form in his brief but memorable guest spot on Extended Family, the new NBC sitcom about parenting and the aftershocks of divorce.

Who does Stephen McKinley Henderson play on Extended Family?

In Episode 3, "The Consequences of Gaming," Julia (Abigail Spencer) frets when son Jimmy (Finn Sweeney) becomes obsessed with violent video games. Daughter Grace (Sofia Capanna), meanwhile, just can’t be bothered with trigonometry.

Julia and her ex-husband, Jim (Jon Cryer), can’t come up with any solutions, so Julia’s fiancé, Trey (Donald Faison), steps up. He takes the siblings for a sit-down with one of the smartest, most inspirational men he knows: MIT Prof. Davenport, played by Henderson.

Sitting behind a desk in his office at the prestigious school, Davenport, a Nobel Prize winner, no less, looks like a genial grandpa. He also doesn't seem to mind their issues. In fact, he says he gets why Jimmy spends every minute gaming.

Stephen McKinley Henderson attends the 76th Annual Tony Awards

“It’s an escape from the stark realities of our time … air pollution, microplastics, tornadoes,” he muses.

As for Grace, who needs math, he reasons. No one will need it with mankind’s imminent extinction.

RELATED: Everything to Know About Abigail Spencer's Real-Life Family Ahead of the Extended Family Premiere

“I’m just an old man jumping around in the deflated, bouncy house of my life,” Davenport tells the kids. “Your generation will suffer the brunt of the climate horror. So you’re the ones who have to fix it.”

And with that, Jimmy and Grace channel their energies into more productive pastimes than video games and shunning the functions of sine, cosine and tangent.

The cast sits in the living room on Extended Family Episode 103

Score that as a win for Prof. Davenport — as well as for Henderson, who happily took stock of his career in an article last year. “I’m a working actor,” he told wkbw.com in Buffalo, NY, where he lives.

Stephen McKinley Henderson's other career moves

Extended Family is just the latest in a long series of TV appearances for Henderson. He made his prime-time debut in 1984 in The Killing Floor. Since then his credits include Law & Order, The Newsroom, and The Blacklist.

Henderson has been nominated twice for a Tony Award. His acclaimed Broadway career spans from his 2001 debut in August Wilson’s King Hedley II to 2022 in Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Between Riverside and Crazy.

Extended Family airs on Tuesday at 8:30/7:30c on NBC. Episodes will be available to stream the next day on Peacock.

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