On paper, the plot of Greg Kinnear's upcoming film Auto Focus is just the kind of bizarre tale you'd see mocked on Talk Soup, the E! show he hosted from 1993-95. The pic chronicles the tragic final years of late Hogan's Heroes thesp Bob Crane, whose kinky sexual exploits are the stuff of Hollywood legend.

Despite the sensational subject matter, Kinnear (who stars as Crane) tells TV Guide Online that Auto Focus is slightly more complex than your average installment of Jerry Springer. "If you're looking for a really sexually graphic movie, you'll be wildly disappointed with this," the 38-year-old actor insists. "Yes, those elements are involved in the story [because] you're not talking about an alcoholic or a drug or gambling addict; you're talking about a sex addict. But the deeper story — about a guy that had so many strong foundations in his life that just went to the wayside because of this need — is a more interesting story and I think [director] Paul Schrader is trying to tap into that."

Kinnear — who says Auto Focus doesn't solve the mystery surrounding Crane's 1978 murder — concedes that the low-budget biopic (due out in fall 2002) is "not like anything I've done before." Of course, the same could be said about his next movie, the Mel Gibson war drama We Were Soldiers (opening March 1). In the flick, the former TV funnyman portrays a heroic chopper pilot credited with saving countless lives during the Vietnam War.

This time around, Kinnear actually had the chance to meet his real-life alter ego — Maj. Bruce Crandall. "I thought it was a great plus to have him there to talk to," says the 1998 Oscar nominee (for his role as Jack Nicholson's gay neighbor in As Good as It Gets). Crandall did, however, have one problem with his big-screen portrayer. Recalls Kinnear: "Bruce's big complaint about me is that I wasn't good looking enough."