Further proof that movie stars in search of quality roles are turning to TV in increasing numbers: James Marsden — who played visor-wearing mutant Cyclops in the box-office smash X-Men — joins the cast of Fox's Ally McBeal on Oct. 29 when the show kicks off its fifth season.

For his part, Marsden sees little difference between the two mediums. "I've always been a big fan of good work, and I don't think it needs to be separated by television and film," he tells TV Guide Online. "And [Ally creator] David E. Kelley was [someone] that I've always really wanted to work with, because as an actor, you want good dialogue... it helps you shine.

"I still have every intention of maintaining a film career as well," adds the 28-year-old actor, who has an eight-month-old son with his wife, former Days of Our Lives star Lisa Linde. "So, hopefully I'll be able to balance the two."

Well, Kelley has never been one to hold his castmembers back from pursuing extracurricular activities — Robert Downey Jr. being an obvious exception. "[He] knows that it can be helpful to the show as well," he says. "Instead of being threatened by an actor going off and doing other movies, [he realizes that] it's great press for the show. He welcomes that."

Marsden already has one outside project lined up: He will slip back behind those dark shades for the upcoming X-Men sequel (due in 2002). But even if the follow-up is as big a hit as the original, the onetime Party of Five guest star concedes that he'll likely be better known for his new TV gig than for Cyclops. "A lot more people watch the show than go see the movies," he points out. "And people will be able to see my eyes now."