Appearing Sunday in an episode of “Madam Secretary” and with a recurring role on “The Good Wife,” Crystal Lake native Jason Babinsky is proud to call himself a working actor.
“I’m trying, at least,” he said with a laugh.
A 1994 graduate of Crystal Lake Central High School, 39-year-old Babinsky has played the character Howell on CBS’ “The Good Wife” since 2014 and will appear again in an episode next month.
When he first landed the role, it was supposed to be a one-episode stint, he said.
“It was all about people throwing you a bone,” he said. “It was one of those things where somebody just liked you enough to say, ‘We’ll bring that guy back.’ And it just kept happening,” he said. “Like any business, you’re always hoping that somebody has your back.”
Babinsky next appears in Episode 14 of the seventh-season series, which last aired Episode 11 on Jan. 10.
“Last season, I got the law firm in some trouble, and I’m kind of at it again,” he said of his character.
In “Madam Secretary,” airing at 7 p.m. Sunday on CBS, Babinsky plays Mitchell, an ambassador’s aid in Myanmar, where the Secretary of State, played by Téa Leoni, visits. Though set in Myanmar, the episode actually was filmed in Queens, Babinsky said.
Babinsky, whose parents, Frank and Marianne Babinsky, now live in McHenry, moved to New York about 13 years ago with his wife, Danielle Ippolito, as his agent. The two had met at Northern Illinois University, where Babinsky earned degrees in English and acting.
After he graduated, he flew to Utah to take part in the state’s Shakespeare Festival in 2000 – the year the festival won a Tony Award.
“I thought I was going to be this classical actor,” he said.
After the festival, he and his wife worked on cruise ships and in Guam as part of a Vegas-style show for tourists.
In New York, Babinsky went to open audition calls.
“I found musical theater was the thing in which the doors were opening easier,” he said.
He landed a role in 2008’s “Billy Elliot” on Broadway and took part in the production’s first national tour, performing in Chicago for nearly a year. He also appeared on Broadway in “Ghost the Musical” in 2012 and alongside Christopher Lloyd in “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” in 2013.
“You get older and you’re not as physically able to do a lot of the dance stuff as the younger kids,” he said.
So, he said, he’s since focused on screen acting gigs.
So far, so good for Babinsky, who as a high school student only appeared in one production. His senior year, he decided to stop playing soccer and take part in the school’s production of “The Cave.”
Among at least five upcoming roles, he’ll play the lawyer Sam Rose in CBS’ “Unforgettable.” He also has a role in the thriller “A Cure for Wellness,” expected to be released this year, and the television movie “The Wizard of Lies” directed by Barry Levinson and starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer. The movie is based on the real-life story of Bernie Madoff, a New York financier who swindled his friends, relatives and other investors out of $65 billion.
Babinsky said he plays one of the people Madoff “rips off.”
“Knock on wood, I’ve been lucky enough to support myself through performing,” he said. “There are some years financially far greater than others, but we’re a two-income house so it’s just ‘plan accordingly.’ ”