Gaius Charles (born May 2, 1983) is an American stage, television and film actor best known for playing Brian "Smash" Williams on the NBC sports-drama television series Friday Night Lights. He currently stars as Dr. Shane Ross on the ABC medical drama series Grey's Anatomy.
Charles was born on May 2, 1983 in Manhattan, New York, then lived in Queens, and later moved to Teaneck, New Jersey with his family when he was in middle school. Growing up in the childhood home of composer Alan Silvestri, he graduated from Teaneck High School in 2001. He attended Carnegie Mellon University's College of Fine Arts, where he obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in drama and performed in productions including Candide, The Wild Party and Spunk, the college's first production with an all-black cast. He appeared in Romeo and Juliet as Mercutio at the Princeton Rep Shakespeare Festival and also studied at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney, Australia.
Charles had guest-starred in one episode of The Book of Daniel and one episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and attended around 250 auditions before landing a main role on the ensemble cast of Friday Night Lights as Brian "Smash" Williams. The night before his Friday Night Lights audition, he sprained his ankle and wound up in a hospital emergency room, which he took as "a sign from God that I should really prepare for this one", though he had originally intended to "kind of wing it". When he got the part, he began to watch football, listen to Texas rap music, research famous running backs, as well as Texas's economic struggles. Smash left the series as a main character in the second season, and Charles only held a recurring role in season three.
Since his Friday Night Lights departure, Charles has appeared in a number of stage productions, including Broke-ology at Williamstown, Massachusetts' Theatre Festival. He has completed filming on 2009 films Toe to Toe and The Messenger, and is set to appear in 2010's Bone Deep. He also has appeared in minor roles in two movies released in 2010, Takers as Max and Salt as a CIA officer. Recently, Charles got a recurring role as Dr. Shane Ross in the ninth season of Grey's Anatomy.
Charles's first name Gaius is an homage to Gaius Julius Caesar's full name and also one of Jesus's early disciples, Gaius, to whom the Third Epistle of John is addressed. In 2007 he said of his name: "It's so unique that I guess as a kid you don't appreciate it. But as I've gotten older, people have come to really respond to it and really appreciate it for its unusual factor."
Charles is Christian, calling his faith in Christ and God "the only thing that's really gotten me here to this point". After his stint on Friday Night Lights, he left acting in order to pursue a degree in theology from Drew University. Charles' interests include public speaking, boxing, aviation, and writing.