Dennis Franz says that he remains extremely grateful to his former NYPD Blue leading lady

Sharon Lawrence for distracting viewers from his nude body in their now-infamous shower scene.

"I never thought at my age, and the way I look, that I would be asked to do that kind of a thing," Franz reveals in a Lifetime Intimate Portrait on Sharon Lawrence (premiering Monday, 7 pm/ET). "Thankfully, Sharon agreed to step in the shower with me and save and redeem that scene somehow. I knew the camera wasn't just staring at my butt, and her butt could share the camera with mine."

Lawrence's character, Assistant District Attorney Sylvia Costas, was killed off in NYPD Blue's 1999 season finale, and Franz admits that the ABC drama has just not been the same without her. "I think how great the storylines would be if she was around," he sighs.

Lawrence, who has since starred in the short-lived CBS comedy Ladies Man as well as the Broadway musical Chicago, believes Sylvia's appeal was rooted in her everywoman quality. "Sylvia was a touchstone for so many people," the two-time Emmy nominee says. "I think many people saw themselves, not just in Sylvia, but in the couple of Sylvia and Andy (Franz). They're probably as relatable, if not the most relatable, couple on the show in terms of our viewers because we were not a fantasy — we were real people."

And although her bloody death likely will rule out a comeback, Lawrence says that it was the only logical way to get Sylvia out of the picture. (Lawrence, tired of being relegated to the background, reportedly asked to go.) "A divorce would never have worked, because the sanctity and integrity of that marriage was too valuable to [Andy] to have it disintegrate," she insists. "So a shot to the gut is a fast, quick way to get her out of there."