James Tupper on Samantha Who?

Two big treats are on tap this week for the forsaken Men in Trees fans. First up is the arrival of James Tupper on ABC's Samantha Who?, starting tonight at 9:30 pm/ET. TV's former "McTreemy" plays an environmentalist who strikes Sam's fancy, so much so that Tupper's visit has been extended through, well, whenever. In this Q&A, Tupper lets us know what's what with Who, compares Christina Applegate to real-life lady love Anne Heche, and previews his big-screen turn opposite Zac Efron.

TVGuide.com: In this week's Samantha Who?, "Sam strives to stick to her path of morality, but her handsome first client - played by James Tupper — throws her off course." How so?
James Tupper:
First of all, I have to say it's really weird to see that word, "handsome." We all have our way of seeing ourselves in the world, and I grew up in a big family where everybody ignored me. It's just so strange. It confuses my Dad when they [describe me as] "sexy" — "What the hell are they talking about?!" That aside, I'm playing Owen, a billionaire environmentalist who's trying to make the world a better place, so I bring [budding real-estate agent] Sam a challenge.

TVGuide.com: In Sam's book, sleeping with a client might fall under "immoral."
Tupper:
[Laughs] And yet it doesn't. No, that never occurs to either of us.

TVGuide.com: And Owen has a similar arrangement to Sam and Todd's, in that he is BFFs with his ex-girlfriend?
Tupper:
Yes, and I think that helps to throw Todd off course.

TVGuide.com: What started off as just one or two episodes has turned into at least four. Things must be going well over there.
Tupper:
I think they are. "Hilarity ensued." I have an open-ended deal here, so... we're playing it episode-by-episode. It's so fun to be in a family of actors that can do the comedy.

TVGuide.com: It would seem to me, on the surface at least, that Christina Applegate has a light comedic sensibility similar to Anne Heche's.
Tupper:
You think so? It's funny because Anne and I and her son, Homer, were watching [Samantha Who?] the other day, and Homer said that — "She's like you, mommy." Anne has a great comic bone. They have a lot of similarities.

TVGuide.com: Did losing your on-screen Men in Trees relationship actually make your and Anne's real-life romance any easier?
Tupper:
You know what, I read lines with her still, for Samantha Who? So we still treat it the same. When she has work, I help her; when I have work, she helps me. We're very collaborative. I think [on Men in Trees] we both respected the fact that we were doing our art, and then there was our private life. She has had a long career without me being around!

TVGuide.com: How surprised were you that Men in Trees didn't last longer?
Tupper:
I was devastated for a couple of weeks when it got cancelled. It created a real fan base, but they moved us around so many times the fans got confused and it was hard to keep up the numbers. But onwards and upwards. I got lucky enough after that got cancelled to shoot a really great movie with Richard Linklater, called Me & Orson Welles. It just debuted in Toronto and I'm really excited about it. Zac Efron plays the lead [a teenager cast in a 1937 Welles-directed staging of Julius Caesar], and I play Joseph Cotten...

TVGuide.com: You are a good physical match for Cotten. It didn't hit me until I compared photos of each of you.
Tupper:
Yeah, it was funny — they do the hair and makeup and suddenly you look in the mirror and you're like, "Holy mother...." It's strange to recreate a real moment in history. And in this case, they didn't know that [this play] would become an important moment in history because it was before everything happened for Orson Welles.

TVGuide.com: Did you have to tame your mighty mane for the role?
Tupper:
Yeah, I had one of those comb-overs. [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: How is Zac in the film?
Tupper:
He's great, man. It's more of an acting role, a dramatic thing, than the High School Musical roles. He was up for the challenge. He loved it.

Keep an eye out for this week's Mitovich Mega Minute, for another Men in Trees treat.