Michael Cristofer, Rubicon

There are renaissance men in this world, and then there's Michael Cristofer.

He's currently kicking keister on Rubicon as eccentric intelligence czar Truxton Spangler — a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a trench coat — but acting hasn't always been his thing. In fact, Cristofer is way better known as a playwright (he won the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony for "The Shadow Box") and film scribe (The Witches of Eastwick), and he's also an acclaimed director (his HBO movie Gia made Angelina Jolie world famous). Now he's penning his first opera, a tragedy about gay 1960s prizefighter Emile Griffith.

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"I've always followed my nose and my instincts, and that's taken me to a lot of interesting places. But I never thought anyone would want me for a TV series," he says with a laugh.

He landed a doozy with AMC's conspiracy thriller. Spangler heads American Policy Institute, an independent agency that analyzes terrorist data but may actually be part of a shadow group that's secretly running the country. This week, there's a security breach at API and the FBI steps in and stages a lockdown. Does Spangler freak? Don't bet on it.

"He's untouchable and undefeatable and he knows it," says Cristofer. "Nothing will happen that he can't handle — and a lot happens in the next few episodes!" Should we fear this guy? Hints Cristofer: "If you're afraid of people like Dick Cheney, you should be very afraid of Truxton Spangler!"

Rubicon airs Sunday at 9/8c on AMC.

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