And over the years he has demonstrated his versatility in such films as "sex, lies and videotape," "White Palace," "Stargate" and "Secretary." But perhaps he's best known these days as the crafty but enigmatic attorney Alan Shore on David E. Kelley's ABC series, "Boston Legal."
Did this nomination take you by surprise?
They all take me by surprise and they don't take me by surprise. I mean everyone knows [the Emmy nominations] are upcoming because certain wheels are in motion and you are aware those wheels are in motion, even though you don't have to be shoving the wheels along. ...
I always forget what day the announcement is, so about a week before, I start turning my phone off at night. ... I don't want to get called at 5 in the morning. It is way too early for me. If I wake up the next day and there are some messages, that means the Emmys were announced.
You were nominated for the "Angel of Death" episode which finds Alan and Denny (Shatner) going to New Orleans to defend a doctor who euthanized five patients during Katrina.
I don't know why that episode was picked, but ... a lot of people liked the episode. That was the episode in the season where more people came up to me and spoke of it -- people that I didn't know and people who would approach me in a public place.
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The show also got its first Emmy nomination as best dramatic series.
I was very happy and excited about that. The thing I really had sort of been hoping for most of all was that the show would get recognition. The show is a very strange and unique one. ...
Sometimes "Boston Legal" has even been nominated in comedic categories.
It's a hard show to sort of pin down, and because of that I was hoping it got the recognition. So many people work so hard on this show.
David Kelley's series all seem set in their own unique, quirky universe.
I can't speak of that because I have never seen any of his other shows, I have only seen our show. But this show certainly feels like that -- it seems to be a strange parallel universe that doesn't attempt to be very realistic in any way. But without a doubt there is a real attempt to try and address ideas and issues and even topical events that relate to people's everyday real lives. Yet the show tries to deal with them with an irreverence or sometimes a drama that is quite unreal. I like that about it.
How many episodes have you shot for the new season?
I am actually starting on episode six today. But we have also been shooting some additional things on episodes one and two. We had sort of a surprise in that there is some talk about episode one being expanded to 90 minutes.
Several regulars have left the show, including Julie Bowen, and others have been added to the series, including John Larroquette.
The more new cast members the better for me. I am just hoping that there will be strength in numbers in terms of shooting days out of an episode. I am hoping that if they make the cast large enough it will mean that just based on numbers alone, I'll have more days off. There have been attempts more of late to write stories that I'm not in, so I'm not working all the time. It still is pretty heavy -- there is an enormous amount of dialogue, but that's OK. I love working on the show.
I can't tell you how many times when we are doing a scene I feel so lucky the show is about people talking to each other rather than people running after each other. I suppose I would probably be in much better health if it was more about people running after each other, but I must say to sustain something over the long term, doing a show where people are talking to each other is much nicer.