TV drama stars thrive in dark roles

Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:32am EDT
 
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By Ray Richmond and Matthew Belloni

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Gone are the days when being a leading man on television meant being the most likable guy onscreen.

TV actors now get to show their skills with dark, complex characters -- even on broadcast network shows. The Hollywood Reporter gathered six fine examples of TV's new actor elite -- Simon Baker (CBS' "The Mentalist"), Bryan Cranston (AMC's "Breaking Bad"), Laurence Fishburne (CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation"), Michael C. Hall (Showtime's "Dexter"), Denis Leary (FX's "Rescue Me") and Bill Paxton (HBO's "Big Love") -- to discuss the grind of series work and the good fun in playing bad guys.

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: YOU ARE ALL THE LEADS ON HOURLONG SHOWS. WHAT IS THE TOLL ON YOUR LIVES?

Bill Paxton: I drive from my house to make the call on Monday morning and I'm lucky to see my house before 2 o'clock in the morning on Friday night. It's a monastic kind of existence. I just stay in a hotel out there (in Santa Clarita, Calif.). I feel like a weird monk. The hardest thing is to go from such an intense work situation to just all of a sudden, that's it.

Bryan Cranston: What you'll find (on) all of these shows, we're all working 12 to 13 to 14 hours a day. If you can do a 12-hour day, you can go home and be with your family.

Simon Baker: Twelve hours, you can have an existence.

Denis Leary: On "Rescue Me," we do four-, six-, eight-, 10-hour days. When (showrunner) Peter (Tolan) is directing, we do six-hour days sometimes.

Laurence Fishburne: How is that possible?   Continued...

 
<p>Comedian Denis Leary arrives for a gala honoring the late stand-up comedian George Carlin as the Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor recipient at the Kennedy Center in Washington November 10, 2008. REUTERS/Molly Riley</p>