Don Tillman is wonderful. Actually, it is his self-awareness that is absolutely priceless. While he might not understand exactly why he is wired differently, he is cognizant of his differences and knows that he sees and does things differently from almost everyone else. This leads to some of the most insightful and charming behavior. His structure, his punctuality, his logic, and his efficiency are all admirable traits; when seen through his eyes, his extreme structure, punctuality, logic and efficiency are even understandable. It is his matter-of-fact approach to his quirks that makes him truly charming though. He is completely unashamed of his differences and even somewhat derisive of those who view him as odd or insist he follow nonsensical (to him) rules. He is so aware of his differences that when he cannot understand his continued interactions with Rosie, a reader takes notice. He might not know what is happening, but readers will. In true romantic comedy fashion, readers end up cheering Don as he slowly begins to realize that sometimes love and happiness do not follow any structure or logic or rules.
Dan O’Grady is great as Don Tillman. His deadpan performance perfectly mirrors the emotionless responses Don gives his circle of acquaintances. Yet, Mr. O’Grady adds a twinge of desire in his voice that lets listeners know that Don not only acknowledges his differences, he wishes that he were not quite so different. Mr. O’Grady embodies Don’s natural lack of empathy, his directness, his logic-fueled mind, and his propensity for making sure others have a reason to laugh at him outside of his tonality and delivery. Mr. O’Grady makes a fun story that much more delightful.
It is supremely difficult not to fall in love with Don. He is so earnest and logical, and his lack of filters is refreshing in a world that hides behind subterfuge and mixed messages. Then there is his self-awareness which is so endearingly pathetic. His approach to the Wife Project may not be the most romantic, but the desire for happiness and fulfillment is there. Watching him fall in love with the most unlikely Wife Project candidate is absolutely adorable. The Rosie Project is indeed an excellent, charming, feel-good story.