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By Derek Lawrence
March 23, 2021 at 01:00 PM EDT
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A Million Little Things is ready to introduce you to Gary's (James Roday Rodriguez) dad.

The ABC drama has cast comedy legend Paul Rodriguez (The Original Latin Kings of Comedy) as Javier Mendez, EW can exclusively reveal.

"We've been purposely waiting for the right time to introduce Gary's dad," creator DJ Nash tells EW. "James and I have talked a ton about this. We knew we wanted someone who, like Gary, might cross a line by saying something that could be seen as inappropriate, but who has such a huge heart that you're willing to forgive it. Paul just is this guy. From the moment we first met with him, we knew we had found Gary's dad. And sitting in the editing bay watching the final product, we can't wait for our fans to see it."

Javier is described as having "heart" and an "audacious sense of humor," just like his son. While he might be a bit dated in his ways, Javier loves Gary more than anything.

Paul Rodriguez
Paul Rodriguez has enjoyed mainstream success over his career spanning three decades.
| Credit: Michael Schwartz/WireImage

Rodriguez has been a comedy mainstay for nearly three decades, writing and headlining The Original Latin Kings of Comedy with Cheech Marin and George Lopez. As an actor, he's appeared in a wide-range of shows and movies, from King of the Hill to Ali.

The casting of Rodriguez comes less than a year after Roday Rodriguez made the "deeply personal" decision to start using his birth name of Rodriguez, having started going by Roday early in his acting career. Last July, the Psych alum told TVLine that Nash asking him if he wanted Gary to have a "Mexican last name" was what first "opened the blinds a little bit so I felt more present in my own skin."

"I want to be the best, most honest ally and amplifier that I can be for my own community and for my friends of color," Roday Rodriguez said. "I don't think any of us could do that if we're not even putting the truest versions of ourselves out there. It just seems like a hurdle right out of the gate. I just really hope that this is something that we can all sustain. I don't want this to be the thing that I look back at and go, 'Oh, remember that three-month period where we all got woke and I changed my f---ing name?'"

A Million Little Things airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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