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September 10, 2010
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SJP


Jimmy Smits in awe of the law
By BILL HARRIS, QMI Agency


Jimmy Smits (WENN.COM)

Jimmy Smits has been to the U.S. Supreme Court. And the overwhelming feeling he got was that anyone who would leave it must be a bit nuts.

Well, maybe “nuts” is overstating it. But not much.

“The thing that stayed with me from the summer, when I visited the Supreme Court, is the trappings of the court are so incredibly majestic,” Smits said.

“To make the decision that this particular character makes has to have ramifications that are extreme. So that kind of cemented it for me in a lot of ways.”

Smits is referring to the character he plays in the new legal drama Outlaw, which debuts Wednesday, Sept. 15 on NBC - in the plumb slot following the finale of America’s Got Talent - and also Friday, Sept. 17 on Global.

Smits plays Supreme Court Justice Cyrus Garza, a playboy and gambler who nonetheless has adhered consistently to a strict interpretation of the law.

However, a crisis of conscience pushes Garza to the conclusion that the very system he has worked so hard to uphold has fatal flaws.

In a snit, Garza shocks the country by resigning his position on the Supreme Court, convinced that with all he knows now, he best can serve justice by returning to private practice as an “outlaw” lawyer.

The 55-year-old Smits - yes, he really is 55 - has been around TV forever, of course. His most notable roles were on L.A. Law (as Victor Sifuentes), NYPD Blue (as Bobby Simone), The West Wing (as Matt Santos) and Dexter (as Miguel Prado).

The last time Smits was the lead in a series - the ill-fated Cane - it got caught up in the writers’ strike after a fairly promising beginning and failed to survive, having aired 13 episodes in late 2007.

“When I think about the things I’ve done before, and how those shows have been topical, this (Outlaw) kind of satisfied that,” Smits said.

“I think John (Eisendrath, creator and co-executive producer) has created a really fascinating character that’s a challenge for an actor. I’m going to be able, as an actor, to play a character that is much more loose and comfortable than I’ve had a chance to play.”

More loose and comfortable? Does that mean Garza is closer to the real-life Smits?

“You don’t know me very well,” said Smits, prompting laughter.

Well, true enough, we haven’t been hanging out a lot lately.

“I guess what I mean is that you haven’t seen me tackle this type of character before,” Smits continued. “Of course, you draw from yourself, but the artistic nourishment you want is to be versatile and do something different.

“When we shot the pilot, to walk into the well and see the jury box there on the side, it was a little intimidating because I have this Sifuentes thing in the back (of my mind).

“But they’re very far apart because there was that young idealism factor that Sifuentes had. This guy (Garza) is more open and loose because he has been on both sides.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

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