Leon Rippy Leon Rippy

It's not easy Saving Grace (tonight, 10 pm/ET, TNT). Just ask Leon Rippy, who plays Earl, the put-upon guardian angel of Holly Hunter's troubled detective. We spoke with the gregarious South Carolina native, now on hiatus after tonight's midseason finale, who discussed the hit drama's spiritual bent and the fate of his previous series, Deadwood.

TV Guide: Do you believe in angels?
Leon Rippy: I always have. We stepped out to L.A. in faith and still live by it. My wife has a wonderful parking prayer that opens up a parking space when need be. [Laughs]

TV Guide: Why has the show struck a chord?
Rippy: If you pass by any bar in the country, there are half a dozen Graces inside. Many are feeling they're past redemption, and if you can offer them a little hope, then hey, that's more of a role than I've ever had.

TV Guide: What's it like working with Holly?
Rippy: There's just a world of complexity. Every nuance is planned out. I'm amazed. It's thrown me a couple of times because I get so wrapped up in what she's doing, I forget what I'm doing!

TV Guide: What is it about Southern women that's so appealing?
Rippy: Having been around them all my life, I'm kind of partial to them. It's just a laid-back honesty.

TV Guide: The show's sex and profanity have alarmed some. What do you think of it?
Rippy: I think it's necessary to move the character along and it's unrealistic if it wasn't there. It doesn't bother me. I'm sure we [angered] a few born-agains, but for every one of them, there's a thousand more that come to our defense.

TV Guide: Are there going to be any more Deadwoods?
Rippy: We're all very hopeful. The realistic side of me says, "I doubt we'll ever see it." Then there's the hopeful side that says, "Please let it conclude for the fans' sake." But what a magnificent adventure that was.

Find out what all the Saving Grace fuss is about in our Online Video Guide.

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