Tim Daly, <EM>The Nine</EM> Tim Daly, The Nine

ABC's The Nine, which premiered just last week, wasted no time in stirring up all kinds of questions and mysteries, first and foremost being, as the ad campaign says, "What happened in there?" For the show's second episode (airing tonight at 10 pm/ET), we stole a few minutes with TV vet Tim Daly, who plays not-good-but not-entirely-bad cop Nick Cavanaugh.

TVGuide.com: The way you saw it, how did Nick differ from other roles you have been offered over the years?
Tim Daly: I like Nick because he's a very human character. He's flawed. He's the kind of guy who creates all his own problems. He's a guy who's in the police force, which relies on people obeying the chain of command, and he has a horrible problem with authority. He's got this gambling problem, an ex-wife, he's a wiseass... and yet he's a really good guy, and I thought there was an opportunity to see him change significantly, as we do with all these characters, after he goes through this ordeal of being held hostage in a bank.

TVGuide.com: And this gambling problem, it hasn't been nipped in the bud, right?
Daly: It was alluded to in the pilot, and you'll find out more about it as the show goes on.

TVGuide.com: Now, Nick went into that bank harboring a flirtation thing with Eva the ill-fated teller, but has come out of it having some sort of bond with Kim Raver's character?
Daly: Yeah, in the pilot there's an implied relationship between them that's deeper than what's on the surface. That will be explored as we go along.

TVGuide.com: Has Nine cocreator Hank Steinberg briefed you on what happened to Nick (and because of Nick) during the crisis?
Daly: I know the bare essentials of what happened. And I know why Nick stormed out of the bank and punched the negotiator.

TVGuide.com: As you see the final cuts, who has been your favorite character to watch?
Daly: That's really tough [to answer]. One of the things about the pilot that I was so impressed with was the level of good acting. Kim Raver is absolutely excellent, and Chi McBride, John Billingsley... everybody is wonderful. The bad guys, too, Jeffrey Pierce and Owain Yeoman... it's really a terrific cast. I look at my fellow actors and think, "I really need to be on my game to keep up with these people."

TVGuide.com: What's the best reason you can give people to watch The Nine, and what do you see as the biggest obstacle facing the show?
Daly:
The best reason I can give people to watch it is that it simply is really good adult narrative drama, and television networks are realizing that human beings have an insatiable desire to see that. It's really modern, it's well produced and acted.... Simply put, it's a really terrific show. The biggest obstacle? I really don't know. Americans always try to make everything into a competition, everyone always tries to beat everyone else at everything, and I don't subscribe to that. I want everybody's show to do well, and for everybody to keep doing good work.

TVGuide.com: Speaking of serialized dramas, do you think that if it had premiered a year or two later, The Fugitive might still be running today?
Daly: I think that maybe if it had aired an hour later than it was on, it might be running today. It was on Fridays at 8, which is always bad. [Laughs] I always thought that was an odd decision by CBS, because I know they believed in the show. Maybe they believed in it too much, thinking the audience would find it anywhere.

TVGuide.com: Do we file it under coincidence that you and Wings costar Steven Weber (Studio 60) have new shows out this fall?
Daly: I'm just glad I don't have to worry about him. He's doing fine now!

TVGuide.com: Has lending your voice to the animated Superman series given you a new, massive enclave of fans?
Daly: I wouldn't say it's massive. It's small but avid. Maybe more than avid. Maybe... obsessed.

TVGuide.com: What do you think it says about this often-cast-as-jaded business that David Chase, with whom you first worked almost 20 years ago, went and wrote a role on The Sopranos for you?
Daly: Dave and I have been friends and fans of each other's for a long time. It's interesting because 20 years ago, I "got" him and he "got" me. I understood his humor and his writing, and the darkness of it.... Not a lot of people did back then, but I did, and he appreciated that, so we kept in touch and he has been incredibly generous to me, writing that role. It's interesting because over the years of The Sopranos, he would call me up periodically and say, "I want you to do this role," he'd start describing it, and then say, "Nah, never mind, forget it. It's not good enough."

TVGuide.com: He'd withdraw the offer before you got a chance to say anything?
Daly: Yeah! "Forget it, it's not going anywhere." Then finally he wrote J.T. Dolan, and it was thrilling. I loved doing that show, because it's going to be part of our cultural history.

TVGuide.com: The very final stretch of Sopranos episodes will, in part, concern the actual production of J.T. and Christopher's movie. Did they keep you busy?
Daly: I know that I appear in an episode....

TVGuide.com: Last question: live bank teller or ATM?
Daly: I haven't been to a live bank teller in so many years. [Laughs] Last time was probably 10 years ago, and I asked for change, and the teller said no. I was like, "Forget this, I'm done with it."