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Michael Vartan Q&A for 'HawthoRNe'

by Kim Potts, posted Jun 15th 2009 6:00AM
Michael VartanHe's been a spy guy in 'Alias,' a hottie English teacher in 'Never Been Kissed,' a corporate honcho in 'Big Shots' ... and now Michael Vartan's a doctor -- well, he plays one on TV -- in TNT's new drama 'HawthoRNe' (premieres June 16, 9PM ET).

The French-born Vartan talks to AOL TV about his new TV gig, his history of working with top-notch leading ladies (including 'Alias' co-star and onetime real-life girlfriend Jennifer Garner) and about how he prefers his women in workout gear rather than evening gowns.



He's been a spy guy in 'Alias,' a hottie English teacher in 'Never Been Kissed,' a corporate honcho in 'Big Shots' ... and now Michael Vartan's a doctor -- well, he plays one on TV -- in TNT's new drama 'HawthoRNe' (premieres June 16, 9PM ET).

The French-born Vartan talks to AOL TV about his new TV gig, his history of working with top-notch leading ladies (including 'Alias' co-star and onetime real-life girlfriend Jennifer Garner) and about how he prefers his women in workout gear rather than evening gowns. -- By Kimberly Potts

Michael Vartan Photos

    HAWTHORNE Michael Vartan and Jada Pinkett Smith star in the episode "Healing Time." Airs Tuesday, June 16, 2009.

    TNT

    Steve Koonin, President of Turner Entertainment Networks, left, Jada Pinkett Smith, center, and Michael Vartan pose for a picture at the Turner Entertainment Network's Upfront event in New York, Wednesday, May 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

    AP

    Actors Michael Vartan and Jada Pinkett Smith speak onstage at the 2009 Turner Upfront at Hammerstein Ballroom on May 20, 2009 in New York City. 18289_0689.JPG 2009 Turner Upfront - Inside Hammerstein Ballroom New York, NY United States May 20, 2009 Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage.com To license this image (16804504), contact WireImage.com

    Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage.com

    Actors Michael Vartan and Jada Pinkett Smith speak onstage at the 2009 Turner Upfront at Hammerstein Ballroom on May 20, 2009 in New York City. 18289_0689.JPG 2009 Turner Upfront - Inside Hammerstein Ballroom New York, NY United States May 20, 2009 Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage.com To license this image (16804501), contact WireImage.com

    Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage.com

    NEW YORK - MAY 20: (L-R) Actor Michael Vartan and Jada Pinkett Smith speak at the 2009 Turner UpFront at the Hammerstein Ballroom on May 20, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Michael Vartan;Jada Pinkett Smith

    Getty Images

    NEW YORK - MAY 20: (L-R) Actor Michael Vartan and Jada Pinkett Smith speak at the 2009 Turner UpFront at the Hammerstein Ballroom on May 20, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Michael Vartan;Jada Pinkett Smith

    Getty Images

    NEW YORK - MAY 20: (L-R) Actor Michael Vartan and Jada Pinkett Smith speak at the 2009 Turner UpFront at the Hammerstein Ballroom on May 20, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Michael Vartan;Jada Pinkett Smith

    Getty Images

    NEW YORK - MAY 20: (L-R) Actor Michael Vartan and Jada Pinkett Smith speak at the 2009 Turner UpFront at the Hammerstein Ballroom on May 20, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Michael Vartan;Jada Pinkett Smith

    Getty Images

    Michael Vartan, right, and Jada Pinkett Smith of the show "Hawthorne" pose for a picture at the Turner Entertainment Network's Upfront event in New York, Wednesday, May 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

    AP

    (L-R) Actress Jada Pinkett Smith and actor Michael Vartan attend the 2009 Turner Upfront at Hammerstein Ballroom on May 20, 2009 in New York City. 18289_0158.JPG 2009 Turner Upfront - Green Room Hammerstein Ballroom New York, NY United States May 20, 2009 Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage.com To license this image (16804184), contact WireImage.com

    Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage.com



We don't find out a lot about your character, Dr. Thomas Wakefield, in the pilot. What will we learn about him as the season goes on?
He's the head of the surgery department, but the interesting thing about the character for me is the relationship he has with Christina [Jada Pinkett Smith] ... the fact that they're very close friends outside the hospital, and that they're both, together, trying to keep her late husband alive. They have a very close bond in that sense, and in that they're both at the top of the food chain in their respected fields. This allows them to make some very important decisions, and, as you might have noticed, Christina doesn't usually go by the rules, and [Thomas] is the one who's left cleaning up her mess more times than not. But it's an interesting dynamic, because you fight a little harder with your close friends than you would with other people. And so there are definitely a lot of scenes in the episodes we've shot so far that have fun drama.

Jada Pinkett SmithChristina is still grieving, but is there a chance of romance between Tom and Christina at some point?
Well, it's television, so I would be shocked if there wasn't [laughs]. But yes, Tom is a good guy, so he's going to let the poor woman heal before he steps in and tries to make his move. She did just lose her husband after all, but I'm sure that's something that they'll explore down the road. We're hinting at a few things that would imply they were more than just friends maybe, but it's nothing concrete yet.

Have you had to learn lots of fun medical jargon as the head of surgery?
[Laughs] Yes, that's been fun. I've been lucky though; it hasn't been too bad. It's not in the 'ER' vein, it's not quite that heavy-handed, but yes, I've had to thrombolize someone intra-arterially and administer 28 milliequivalents of potassium chloride. Don't ask what it means, though ... I have no idea, but I learn my lines.



I just saw the trailer for 'Demoted', and it looks really funny, kind of 'Office Space'-ish. Is that the vibe?
It's very funny. David Cross is -- how would the kids say it today? -- off the chain, in this movie. He's one of the funniest people I've ever worked with. He's so talented, he's so smart, but his wit and his humor are just outrageous, and he definitely steals the show in this movie. I think it's really funny, and I've never really been cast in that kind of role before, so I was really happy to get a chance to do some comedy.

Bradley CooperYour 'Alias' pal Bradley Cooper scored big with 'The Hangover.' Have you seen it yet? And you guys were hilarious as rival chefs in an episode of 'Kitchen Confidential' -- any chance you'll work together again?
I haven't seen ['The Hangover'] yet, but I can't wait ... it looks absolutely hilarious. It looks like a really good time, and I'm just so happy for all his success, because, as you said, we started together in 'Alias,' and he's such a great guy, such a great actor, and it's just nice to get to see him do so well, because he's an amazing dramatic actor. You know, he loves theater, and he's a really sort of intense actor when it comes to drama, so to get to see him do these kinds of things is just awesome. And I'd love to work with him again. Comedy is really so much fun to shoot, because you basically spend the whole time on set laughing and making jokes and making fun of each other. So yeah, I'd love to do another comedy with him, especially now that he's super famous [laughs].

'HawthoRNe' is your first return to a series since 'Big Shots,' which seemed like it was going to be a fun, sorta male version of 'Desperate Housewives.' Why didn't the show work?
To be perfectly honest, I think they kind of missed the boat on that show. The concept was really interesting. That's what attracted me to the project, that and the obviously very talented cast, but about six or seven episodes in, I actually had this moment of, hang on a second ... here are these four guys, best friends since childhood, and not once have we talked about cars, chicks or sports. All we talked about is our relationships. And there's nothing wrong with that, because guys do talk about their relationships, but that's all we ever talked about. And so that's when we started thinking, "Hey, are we missing something here?" You're right, it definitely was 'Desperate Housewives' for men. There were times on set where we [joked] that they just plagiarized the scripts from 'Desperate Housewives.'

You've worked with a lot of A-list leading women -- Drew Barrymore, Jane Fonda, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Jennifer Garner, now Jada Pinkett Smith. Can you choose a favorite?
I've enjoyed my experience working with all those women. It's funny, the one common thread I find between all of them, and I've been lucky, and I guess I've worked with the right people, because I've noticed that the more Jennifer Garner 'Alias'successful, or the more famous, the people I work with are, the nicer they are. You never believe that, that they're always the nicest people, and it's such a breath of fresh air to find out that, "Oh, people can be filthy rich, very talented, and nice too ... not everyone needs to be a dysfunctional jerk, just because they're an actor." Obviously, Jennifer [Garner] and I worked together for five years, basically 14 hours a day, so she's like family to me. The whole cast [of 'Alias'], actually. We get together all the time; we still stay in touch. I'm in New York right now, and I'm hoping to see Victor [Garber] tonight. And Jane was amazing to work with, because she's such an icon of this business and has been for so long, and she's got so many insanely interesting stories. So yeah, I've been very fortunate.

You said in a recent Redbook magazine interview, "I like the slob look. I think that's really sexy." You realize that will have women swooning more than you showing up in a tuxedo, holding a dozen roses?
Oh, really? That's good to know! And it's true, though I wish I hadn't used the word "slob," because that's not the best term I could have chosen, but what I actually mean is, you know, when you meet someone and they're not made up, and let's say they just came from the gym or a run. You get to see the real person. Anyone can get dolled up and look hot and put on makeup and high heels and all that stuff -- and that's great and there's a place for that too, don't get me wrong. But when you just meet someone, and they're just completely natural ... that's the sexiest thing in the world, I think. To get a glimpse of the real person, as opposed to the painted one.

Michael VartanHave you seen your fansite where the people who operate it refer to themselves as "Vartan Hos"?
I've heard of it and actually went on it a few years back, just to take a look. It's very flattering that someone would take the time to even do that. You know, I was just telling a friend earlier that I'm actually in the best possible situation, because I'm a relatively private person. I'm still able to work and pay the rent and get on with my career, but at the same time, I'm pretty anonymous. Not that many people know who I am, so I can go to Starbucks and no one bothers me. I can't imagine being, you know, Tom Cruise. How does he go to Disneyland with his kids? He can't. Unless he buys it. So I'm at a perfect level, where I'm known enough in the industry so that I can keep working, but I'm unknown enough where I can have a completely normal life, which I really appreciate.




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