'13 Reasons Why' Enlists Gary Sinise for Key Final Season Role

The 'CSI' and 'Criminal Minds' star will be playing a pivotal character in the fourth cycle of Netflix's high school drama.
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Gary Sinise

13 Reasons Why has registered a familiar face for the final season of the Netflix high school series.

Gary Sinise is joining the Paramount Television young adult drama in a series-regular role for the fourth and final cycle. The fourth season, which will see the core cast graduating from Liberty High, was announced as the final run ahead of the recently released third season (which debuted on Netflix Aug. 23).

The Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actor will play Dr. Robert Ellman, an adolescent and family therapist who is compassionate and incisive and uses a no-nonsense approach. Dr. Ellman has been brought in to address the mental health of main protagonist Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) — who was put through the wringer in the first three seasons — and help the senior high school student battle his anxiety, depression and grief. 

Formidable, intense and deeply humane, Ellman — according to the character description — is steadfast in guiding Clay to accept the help he needs so desperately, to come to terms with the trauma in his past and begin the process of healing.

"From the first moments we conceived of the role, I thought of Gary Sinise but hardly dared to dream it might happen," says series creator and showrunner Brian Yorkey. "A consummate actor and first-rate human, Gary brings the exact combination of toughness, smarts and heart the character needs. We're all thrilled and honored to have him join us for this pivotal role in our final season."

Since debuting as a breakout drama for the streaming giant, 13 Reasons Why has seen its fair share of controversy as the story, which has expanded beyond the source material of Jay Asher's best-selling novel after season one, has sparked ongoing debate around a wide range of serious topics facing modern-day teens. The first two seasons heavily explored suicide, depression, gun violence and sexual assault, among other topics, and the third season tackled hot-button issues like abortion and immigration. 

The introduction of Sinise's therapist signals a chance for Yorkey and the writers to dig into the major issues the series has covered in an in-depth way. (The series now opens with cast PSAs and prompts viewers to visit the 13reasonswhy/info resource website at the end of every episode.)

The third season reset the drama with a whodunit murder mystery, and the finale's reveal of who killed Justin Prentice's Bryce Walker left ramifications for 13 Reasons Why to follow up on when it returns. The second and third seasons have not been as well-received compared with the first, and the fourth season will be the last for the series. A premiere date or episode count has not yet been announced.

Sinise, also a Tony winner, has starred in and directed more than a dozen productions with the renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. He's delivered award-winning performances on film and television (Forrest Gump, HBO's Truman) and starred for nine seasons on CBS' CSI: NY and on CBS' Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders for two seasons. He will next be seen on the big screen in the Mark Wahlberg and Connie Britton-starrer Good Joe Bell and in I Still Believe. He is repped by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.