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'Zero Hour' star Anthony Edwards discusses returning to TV

'Zero Hour' actor Edwards is returning to TV after starring as Dr. Mark Greene on 'ER.' 'Zero Hour' premiered on ABC on Feb. 14.

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He didn't leave the business. Edwards was always comfortable behind the scenes, and had been close to leaving acting for directing before getting the "ER" job. He has his own production company, Grand Central Entertainment, and was an executive producer of HBO's "Temple Grandin." He did some film acting, in "Zodiac" and the memorable flop "Motherhood."

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Showtime's loss proved ABC's gain. Grand Central developed a series about a high-end public relations firm that Edwards had planned to act in and when Showtime passed, he found himself with free time. Edwards started looking at other scripts and found "Zero Hour" to be "a total page-turner."

Zack Estrin, one of the show's four executive producers, couldn't believe his luck.

"It's an honor when somebody who could have his choice of shows chooses yours," he said. "It's like, the prom queen chooses you to have a dance."

Having a well-known actor attach himself to your project has its obvious benefits, and Estrin hopes some viewers try out "Zero Hour" just to see what Edwards is doing. The danger is that television has its cases of actors being so defined by an overwhelmingly successful role that viewers have a hard time seeing them do something else. Edwards believes the characters he has chosen guard against that.

"My career has never been based on the fact that I was an action hero or a specific kind of comedian," Edwards said. "What's fun about it is it appears a little bit boring, but for me the subtleties of what is going on is what makes it fun."

In many ways, Mark Greene was designed to be a person that viewers can relate to. Same thing with Galliston. The show needs a character to steady the boat, Estrin said.

"That's what Anthony is," he said. "He's somebody who's solid and dependable, somebody the audience can trust. On a show where you don't know who you can trust and who you can believe, it's important to have somebody at the center you know you can."

Keep your eyes open for an inside joke. In one episode where Galliston is depicted escaping from pursuers he puts on a lab coat and walks through a medical facility. Mark Greene lives!

The young actor who once learned by example from Hal Holbrook and Sean Penn is now leading the same way himself, demonstrating to younger cast members the importance of showing up on time and knowing your lines. Edwards enjoys the comfort of being back on a television set.

"I understand how a day on a set is supposed to go and it makes perfect sense," he said. "It's my playground. A question from a 12-year-old? That's when it gets tough. Raising kids is hard."

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