- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2002

LOS ANGELES — Ron Livingston has friendly brown eyes, but on ABC's "The Practice," his character is fierce-looking, often showing a tightly drawn upper lip.
Mr. Livingston plays Assistant District Attorney Alan Lowe, "a worthy opponent" to the team of Donnell, Young, Dole & Frutt. The Boston law firm's intensely committed partners, played by Dylan McDermott (Bobby Donnell), Steve Harris (Eugene Young), Kelli Williams (Lindsay Dole) and Camryn Manheim (Ellenor Frutt), battle through triumph and tragedy in and out of court.
Sharp opposition has been led by prosecutor Helen Gamble (Lara Flynn Boyle). Mr. Livingston plays the new, equally determined second chair on the legal drama (Sundays at 10 p.m. on WJLA Channel 7), produced and written by David E. Kelley. The series, in its sixth season, is performing well in the ratings.
Mr. Livingston describes his character as ambitious, on-the-ball, hard-hitting and tenacious.
The job offer came as the 34-year-old Mr. Livingston was heading to Paris for the French premiere of "Band of Brothers," an HBO World War II miniseries that earned him a Golden Globe nomination as Capt. Lewis Nixon.
He accepted the "Practice" role without seeing the script because, he says, "with someone like David Kelley, there is a certain amount of faith you put in because of what you know he can do."
Mr. Livingston reasons, "A bad writer will just write things for the character to say and not pay any attention to the thoughts that go unsaid.
"A good writer writes those thoughts and then leaves them out. That makes the scene better. It makes the words kind of jump off the page, and the oddest thing is, it makes it infinitely easier to memorize because it makes sense."
Behind the fierce eyes, Lowe clearly possesses some of Mr. Livingston's own good-guy appeal. Although Lowe essentially has been confrontational with his female colleague, romance could occur in future episodes.
"I think they are playing with that idea, but it was always going to a back-burner thing because if you hit it too soon, it takes away the tension," Mr. Livingston says. Already "a couple of lines" have hinted that Lowe and Gamble might ultimately step beyond just butting heads over casework.
"This show is really more about the cases than it is about the soap stuff. It's an issue-driven series," Mr. Livingston stresses.
Meeting for tea at a Hollywood hotel, Mr. Livingston is casually dressed in a suede jacket and jeans. His manner is easygoing but astute.
He has been engaged since June to actress Lisa Sheridan. They met about five years ago at a screening of "The English Patient."
Laughing, he says their relationship is "very normal for L.A. It wasn't like we were working on something together. We didn't steal each other away from best friends."

The desire to be an actor "crept up on" Mr. Livingston. He grew up in Marion, Iowa, "where it was never a question it would really be possible to do it for a living, but it was one of those things that was perfectly acceptable to do as one of a whole bunch of hobbies."
He played Rip Van Winkle in second grade. While in high school, he and his dad, Kurt (an aerospace engineer with a good singing voice), co-starred as Curly and Judd in "Oklahoma." He attended Yale University, where he earned a degree in theater studies and English literature.
Mr. Livingston's first movie role was in the 1992 comedy "Straight Talk," starring James Woods and Dolly Parton. "I had two lines. They both got cut," he recalls.
He kept at it nevertheless. He was one of the hopeful actors in "Swingers," had a part in the short-lived TV series "Townies" with Molly Ringwald and co-starred with Jennifer Aniston in the 1999 comedy "Office Space."
Mr. Livingston spent nine months in England making the 10-part "Band of Brothers," a collaborative effort from producers Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.
"I made a lot of really good friends. There is something about those circumstances, although it's just a shadow of what a real military unit goes through, even the shadow of it is enough to generate some strong friendships, which I think will last."
He didn't try to push for immediate camaraderie when he joined "The Practice," though he says the cast has been "terribly welcoming."
"I was just kind of determined to go in and do my job and worry about getting to know people as it came along," he says.
Inserting himself into such "a well-oiled machine" was a bit like "trying to change a part on a car engine while it is running," the actor says.
"You don't want to break anything or get in the way while you are trying to figure out exactly where your space is."

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