Inspired by the Academy Award-winning (if somewhat controversial) Best Picture of 2006, Crash hits the smaller screen Friday at 10 pm/ET, on the Starz Entertainment cable channel. Headlined by film vet Dennis Hopper and peppered with salty language, racy moments and racial tension, the TV adaptation, like its inspiration, looks at the way disparate lives intersect in the melting pot that is Los Angeles. Ross McCall, the lucky Scot who soon will get to call Jennifer Love Hewitt his wife and in Crash plays a rule-bending street cop, gave us a peek at the new series.
TVGuide.com: This is the first original drama series produced by Starz. What about this project made you not anxious about precisely that?
Ross McCall: I worked for HBO a couple of years ago [on Band of Brothers], and shows like The Sopranos had made HBO into a booming place. So when Starz and Lionsgate decided to do their first original series, I really wanted to be a part of something that would hopefully make a network happen, like Mad Men did with AMC. There was something neat about that.
TVGuide.com: Were you familiar with the film?
McCall: I was, yeah, and I really loved it. I knew [producer] Bobby Moresco and [writer-director] Paul Haggis prior to this, through other shows that they did and whatnot.
TVGuide.com: Plus, isn't haggis a food in Scotland?
McCall: [Laughs] Yes, it is. Someone else has made that joke, about how a Scotsman ended up on this show because of Haggis.
TVGuide.com: How are you describing your character, Kenny Battaglia?
McCall: Kenny's got his problems, his issues. But the thing I dig is that he gets into ridiculous situations, but he feels that as long as not every party is made aware of it, he'll get away with it. So I don't think he's a bad cop – he loves his job, and he brings this East Coast attitude to the department, which is like a brotherhood for him. But that turns out to be his Achilles heel. I hope he's a charming, mischievous little player.
TVGuide.com: When we first meet him, he's hitting on the gal who his squad car got into a fender-bender with. Yet I get the feeling it's not the first time he has pulled that.
McCall: That's the thing, he likes to bend the rules the slightest bit. Not only will he hit on attractive women he comes across, but he'll also let some bad guys get away if there's a favor in it for him.
TVGuide.com: Speaking of Inez, the gal he crashes into ... I know you're engaged to the current "Sexiest Woman on TV," but I have to think that Moran Atias could be next.
McCall: [Laughs] Absolutely. But let's be honest, man, no one is going to knock my Mrs. off that throne. That's gonna be a hard job for anybody!
TVGuide.com: Listening to your brogue, I have to ask: How hard is an American accent to pull off?
McCall: For whatever reason, it comes easier for me. I've been acting since I was 11, and all I did in my spare time was go to [American] movies, so I can click it on and off.
TVGuide.com: When I spoke to Matthew Rhys (Brothers & Sisters) at the Emmys (watch video here), I had no idea his Welsh accent was so heavy.
McCall: Oh, he's got a real strong accent. A few of us get away with it! Matt Rhys is one, and of course Hugh Laurie (House).
TVGuide.com: Who's your favorite character on Crash, outside of your own?
McCall: It sounds so kiss-ass, but I do like [Dennis] Hopper's character.
TVGuide.com: He's one crazy-
McCall: Yeah, man. I dig how the sh-t that comes out of his mouth makes no sense, but it does. You listen to it and you're like, "What?!" He just goes to the weirdest places in the world, but it just works.
TVGuide.com: Do you have any other projects coming up?
McCall: I just completed Green Street Hooligans 2, a sequel to the original I did with Elijah Woods four years ago. It's a British football hooligan movie that we shot in a prison in L.A., substituting for a London prison. It was hard every day with the sun on our backs pretending we're in North London!
TVGuide.com: Before you go, tell me: Ever since your lady was named Sexiest Woman on TV, have you felt any pressure to, like, put in an extra 45 minutes at the gym?
McCall: [Laughs] If you want the honest truth, I couldn't care less — I'm just so ecstatic for her!
TVGuide.com: What do you find to be the sexiest thing about her?
McCall: Oh, everything. C'mon. You guys see this siren up on the screen and go, "Oh my god." But I see the inside of her, heart and soul. To have somebody in your life that makes you tick is really rare. It's been three years that we've been together, and she still takes my breath away.