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Eric Balfour, whose TV résumé includes intense arcs on 24 and Six Feet Under, is finally getting to lighten up. On UPN's Sex, Love & Secrets (airing Tuesdays at 9 pm/ET), he's playing Charlie, a player who aims to do for hairstyling what Cheers' Sam Malone did for barkeeping — a game plan that even TVGuide.com didn't deem plausible until the actor stumped us good. TVGuide.com: You're playing a straight, womanizing hairdresser. Do you really expect people to buy into that?Eric Balfour: Yeah, didn't you ever see Shampoo? TVGuide.com: [Awkward silence] That's true....Balfour: Wow, that was
TVGuide.com: You're playing a straight, womanizing hairdresser. Do you really expect people to buy into that?
Eric Balfour: Yeah, didn't you ever see Shampoo?
TVGuide.com: [Awkward silence] That's true....
Balfour: Wow, that was way too easy, brother! You gotta put up more of a fight than that. Actually, I lived in that that Silver Lake area [where Sex, Love & Secrets is set], and there are a lot of male hairdressers. It's not a dumb profession for a straight guy.
TVGuide.com: OK, but have you ever — as Charlie does — unwittingly slept with your best friend's girlfriend?
Balfour: No, I have never done that. But that was interesting, because for Charlie there's a certain amount of karma involved in it. Even though he didn't do it on purpose, you see how people have to take responsibility for their own lives no matter what, and he has to take responsibility for the fact this is the life he's created, and this was bound to happen in one form or another, whether it be with his own best friend's girl or someone else's.
TVGuide.com: Is teasing Denise Richards about her Wild Things ménage à trois off-limits?
Balfour: No, are you kidding? I make fun of her all the time about everything. She is absolutely one of the coolest people I have ever worked with. She's awesome, and has been a really good person to talk to about life and relationships. She's been giving me a lot of good advice.
TVGuide.com: Has Sex, Love & Secrets been "refreshing" for you, following 24 and Six Feet Under?
Balfour: Actually, it sort of feels similar to Six Feet Under in that there's an emotional arc to it. This show has more of that Tarantino-esque reality, which is real, but not a reality that any of us have ever seen. Remember in Pulp Fiction, there's that '50s diner they go to? It's like, we've all been to one of those "nostalgic" cafes, but I've never seen one that good. That's what this is like — a hyper-realistic state. You saw in the pilot where we broke reality and sang to Lauren [German]? We're going to do that a lot, I think. It allows you to create this alternate universe where you don't always have to be completely true to life.
TVGuide.com: Could 24 have used more fantasy song-and-dance numbers?
Balfour: [Laughs] You really want me to answer that question?
TVGuide.com: For you, what was the coolest part of playing 24's computer-whiz, Milo?
Balfour: The coolest part was getting to work with Kiefer [Sutherland]. I didn't have a whole lot to do — I sort of sat behind the desk a lot of time and played with computers....
TVGuide.com: Still, we got to cast a suspicious eye on you now and again.... "Is Milo a bad guy?"
Balfour: "Is he the mole? Is he just eating a lot of peanuts?" I really, really do think Kiefer is a phenomenal actor and a phenomenal guy to be around. One of my all-time favorite movies was The Lost Boys. Those guys were my idols. He has just given performance after performance, from Flatliners to that and Freeway....
TVGuide.com: Whatever happened to Milo?
Balfour: I think he got a job working for Intel. He's training all the people who work the AOL service lines in India.
TVGuide.com: Did you watch the SFU finale?
Balfour: Yeah, I did. It was really beautifully done.
TVGuide.com: Have you spoken to [SFU scene partner] Lauren Ambrose since it ended? Is she sad?
Balfour: I did an interview for a behind-the-scenes of the finale thing, and I saw her then. I'm sure she's sad, but at the same time, after five or six years... you probably want to try something else. I have enjoyed that about the shows I've done — I've gotten to go in for a couple seasons or a long arc, enjoyed it and moved on.
TVGuide.com: You're in the movie In Her Shoes (in theaters Friday)?
Balfour: It wasn't a very big role; it was more about the opportunity to be around really talented people like Cameron [Diaz], a wonderful actress, and Curtis Hanson, an amazing director. When you think about your career, you want to build a résumé of things that count, and be a part of projects that count. You pick projects because of the script and the people involved and whatever — some turn out to be great and some don't, but as long as you consistently make choices as an artist with integrity, that's all that matters.
TVGuide.com: You're going to make me bring up 2003's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Balfour: I don't have to justify that at all; I think it turned out great.
TVGuide.com: Were you a fan of the original?
Balfour: I was a huge fan. And honestly, the original was almost a documentary, a Helter Skelter-type thing, where ours was much more of a film and in the beginning you got a better sense of who each character was. [Director] Marcus [Nispel] did an amazing job. As far as horror movies go, I think it stands out. I've been watching other ones, like The Grudge, and there's not even a plot.
TVGuide.com: Was it scary to shoot?
Balfour: The house that we shot in is a real house in the middle of nowhere in Texas, with these giant banana spiders. And the people who lived in it had died in 1962 and it had been abandoned since.
TVGuide.com: I take it they're called banana spiders because they're the size of...
Balfour: ... a frickin' banana, dude. These things are gnarly, and they were everywhere.
TVGuide.com: Your nickname is "Bluffour," because of your poker prowess. Give me a tip for my Friday-night game.
Balfour: The biggest mistake a casual player can make is to play with emotion. You can't make calls on ego, just because you want to stick it to somebody and win the big pot. Don't play with emotions, you know? You gotta know when to fold 'em.