About James Roday
Born James Roday Rodriguez on April 4, 1976 in San Antonio, TX, he was raised near the Lackland U.S. Air Force Base by his officer father and mother, who was a special needs teacher. Living a largely solitary life, he saw many of his friends come and go as parents were transferred to other bases. However, as a student at William Howard Taft High School, Rodriguez found an enjoyable outlet in sports. Although he was a celebrated quarterback on the school's football team, he began to gravitate toward acting in this senior year after accepting the fact that he would never have a physical stature large enough to make him competitive at the collegiate level. Roday drew from his love of movies, using it to inspire him in this fresh pursuit of acting, heading off to New York after high school to study theater at New York University's Experimental Theatre Wing. His newly discovered passion for the stage led him to such works as Chekov's "The Three Sisters," Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night," and David Mamet's "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" among others. While in New York, the actor had been advised to change his last name to avoid being typecast within his Latin heritage, and decided to drop Rodriguez in favor of Roday as his new surname.
Shortly after graduating from the acting program, Roday landed a role in the unaired television pilot "Home" for Dreamworks, prior to being cast as a regular on the action drama "Ryan Caulfield: Year One" (FOX, 1999-2000). It was while shooting the pilot for the soon-to-be-cancelled show that he made the permanent migration to Los Angeles. Roday reappeared with a supporting turn in an independent film shot a year prior in New York - the prep school sex comedy "Coming Soon" (2000), co-starring a then unknown Ryan Reynolds. After one or two small roles in little seen television and film projects, he joined the cast of the legal drama "First Years" (NBC, 2000-01) as Edgar "Egg" Ross, a young lawyer at odds with his idealistic parents. As with "Ryan Caulfield," the show lasted only a handful of episodes before being pulled from the schedule. Roday kept busy with work in the direct-to-DVD romantic comedy "Repli-Kate" (2002), in the leading role of Max, a scientific genius, terrible with women, who clones a female reporter and tries to teach her how to be the ultimate guys' girl.
Roday next nabbed a bit part as a cameraman in Warner Brothers' Robert De Niro/Eddie Murphy attempt at skewering the buddy-cop genre, "Showtime" (2002). As a cast member on the Alicia Silverstone vehicle "Miss Match" (NBC, 2003-04), he once again played a lawyer; this time working alongside a divorce attorney/matchmaker. The show, however, was far from a perfect match with audiences and was unceremoniously cancelled. Roday followed with a starring role in the made-for-TV comedy "Rolling Kansas" (Comedy Central, 2004), the story of four friends on a road trip to locate a buried stash of pot, directed by actor Thomas Haden Church. On the big screen, he played a good old boy in the adaptation of the high-octane hillbilly comedy series "The Dukes of Hazzard" (2005). For his next appearance, Roday found himself in somewhat more esteemed company when he turned in a small performance in Wim Wenders' "Don't Come Knocking" (2006), a bittersweet drama about a fading movie star (Sam Shepard) looking back at the personal wreckage of his misspent life. He worked with Chandrasekhar once again in the Broken Lizard original project "Beerfest" (2006), playing a German messenger boy who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time - with morbidly hilarious results.
Everything changed for Roday when he was cast in the leading role of Shawn Spencer on the comedic crime series "Psych" (USA, 2006- ), starring as a fun-loving amateur sleuth who uses his exceptional powers of observation and a photographic memory to solve crimes. Convincing his best friend (Dulé Hill) to join him, Spencer bogusly bills himself as a "psychic" detective, trying to stay one step ahead of a suspicious police department that wonders how it is he is able to crack their toughest cases. The premiere of "Psych" was the highest scripted basic cable series debut of 2006, and the quirky show soon picked up a sizable fan base, drawn to its cleverly themed plots and witty dialogue. The actor also expanded his horizons as a screenwriter, as he and writing partners Todd Harthan and James DeMonaco saw their script for the werewolf horror thriller "Skinwalkers" (2007) hit theaters the same year Roday began writing several "Psych" episodes. In addition to his ongoing duties on the successful series, he found time to take part in the sci-fi feature film "Gamer" (2009), an action thriller starring Gerard Butler as a man literally used as a flesh-and-blood avatar in a deadly online role-playing game.