You know actor Bradley Whitford
as altruistic White House workaholic Josh Lyman on The West Wing
. But he's not too benevolent as Meg Ryan
's boss in the upcoming film Kate & Leopold
, which also co-stars Hugh Jackman
, Breckin Meyer
and Natasha Lyonne
The movie's time-traveling plotline has Whitford leading a team of Manhattan scientists who accidentally pluck Jackman out of the 19th century. Predictably, sparks fly between Ryan and Jackman as she helps her fellow eggheads contrive to send the hunky anachronism home much to the dismay of Whitford's jealous character. "I'm the boss who's trying to be more to Meg, but it doesn't quite work out," he winks. "I don't think you're rooting for me to get together with her."
Whitford was more successful in "pestering" writer Aaron Sorkin to include his input about a real-life concern autism in tonight's episode of The West Wing (airing 9 pm/ET on NBC). As a member of Cure Autism Now, the actor joined celebs like Maya Angelou and Rene Russo to lobby in Washington for the passage of the Children's Health Act of 2000. "Autism in this country is underdiagnosed and exploding in numbers for reasons that people don't understand," he explains. "No beloved celebrities have it, so it's not a disease that gets a lot of attention, and research is underfunded. Congress was recently persuaded that this was true by the arguments that the autism advocates put forth, and we're sort of mirroring that [in tonight's episode]."
Reflecting on his experience as a celebrity lobbyist, Whitford says: "One of the interesting and sad things to me was how much it helped to have a guy from a TV show lobby the senators. Just the celebrity grease that goes on that gets you into their offices is really pathetic." Still, he admits, "it's for a good cause."