Amy Smart, <EM>Smith</EM> Amy Smart, Smith

Can CBS' Smith (Tuesdays at 10 pm/ET) make off with the audience that FX's Thief and NBC's Heist each failed to smash and grab? Based on early returns, the crime-caper drama is off to a promising start, thanks to a stellar cast led by Emmy winner Ray Liotta (ER, GoodFellas) and Oscar nominee Virginia Madsen (Sideways). Stealing scenes in her own right, however, is another big-screen vet, Amy Smart, with whom TVGuide.com recently chatted.

TVGuide.com: Just the other day I interviewed in person, no less your good friend Ali Larter (Heroes). Has she called yet to rave about me to you?
Amy Smart: No, I'm sorry!

TVGuide.com: Did you two became pals while filming Varsity Blues?
Smart: No, we modeled together in Milan when we were 18.

TVGuide.com: I asked Ali if you were by chance up for each other's roles this fall, and she said no.
Smart: No, we actually weren't, amazingly. Complete coincidence!

TVGuide.com: Still, is Heroes on your TiVo?
Smart: It is, absolutely. Heroes and Jericho, because I'm friends with Ashley Scott, too. [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: You and Ali are playing different kinds of badasses she's out killing brutish thugs, while you're stealing stuff.
Smart: Exactly. And who knows, maybe I'll be killing people as well....

TVGuide.com: See, that's my only problem with Smith, the occasional death at the hands of characters we're supposed to be rooting for.
Smart: Yeah, it's kind of like you're not supposed to want to root for them. But look at The Sopranos.

TVGuide.com: What's the feeling on the set now that the ratings have come in. Are people happy?
Smart: Yeah, we are. There's definitely an audience for it, and I think it's also probably pushing some people's buttons with the subject matter.

TVGuide.com: Were the likes of Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen and Simon Baker already on board when the Smith pilot came your way?
Smart: No, it was just Ray Liotta at that point.

TVGuide.com: Plenty reason enough to do it, though.
Smart: Plenty reason enough, absolutely. I wasn't really considering television, but when I met [executive producer] John Wells and he told me the concept, I was so impressed by his ideas that I left feeling like, "Oh, yeah, I want to work on this." And the character of Annie and how he wanted to unfold her... he wants to go into the lives of these criminals and see what makes them tick.

TVGuide.com: Now is Annie all about living hard and burgling hard, or will we see any soft sides to her?
Smart: There are definitely going to be more moments of vulnerability....

TVGuide.com: But at the same time, she may up and taser an old school chum to the ground.
Smart: Exactly. In that situation, Annie's priority was to be a decoy and not let anything stop her. And hey, she didn't kill [the friend]! [Laughs] In [last week's] episode, she decided to pull her own job, and she brought on Jeff (Simon Baker) and Tom (Jonny Lee Miller) to steal all this information from a data bank.

TVGuide.com: Because identity theft is all the rage these days.
Smart: Exactly. Smith hits on all the different kinds of theft crimes that people are committing. In the [episode] I'm about to work on, the thieves rob houses when the owners are having dinner parties downstairs.

TVGuide.com: Wow! That's rather specialized  and risky.
Smart: Very. But they're now the thing to do.

TVGuide.com: Right, "Dinner-party burglaries are the new black." Do we know yet how Annie got into this sideline business?
Smart: Not so much. [She and her cohorts] are just the biggest risk takers you've ever met. They're willing to put it all on the line for the adrenaline rush, something that makes the heart beat fast.

TVGuide.com: I was going to say, this is probably as much about the adrenaline rush as the financial gain.
Smart: It's definitely both. It's also a voyeuristic [trip] into the lives of people who appear to be normal when you see them walking down the street, and yet they have this whole other life that's provocative and dangerous.

TVGuide.com: Has Amy Smart ever stolen anything?
Smart: When I was in sixth grade, there was this little festival where I grew up, in Topanga Canyon, and the thing to do was steal, like, crystal jewelry from the booths. My friends and I all of a sudden realized, "Ooh, we don't have to pay for anything if we steal it." Of course, we felt bad about it.

TVGuide.com: Oh, of course, wink-wink.
Smart: But it was a fun challenge, trying to get away with it.

TVGuide.com: Were you and your pals crafty at least? Did you stage diversions and such?
Smart: No, we just were like, "Oh, this looks nice," and when they turned around we'd walk away with it.

TVGuide.com: Well, that's plain old Five-Finger Discount 101.
Smart: Exactly.

TVGuide.com: Lastly, let's help people enjoy the definitive Amy Smart. What have been your funniest, most dramatic and sexiest roles?
Smart: The most dramatic would definitely be The Butterfly Effect. The funniest, I would say, is my character in Rat Race; more specifically, when I'm flying the helicopter. The sexiest... I would have to say Smith! Road Trip may have been "sexy" [in a collegiate way], but Smith to me is more womanly sexy. Annie really owns her sexuality  and she's not scared to use it to get something.

TVGuide.com: And god bless her for that.

Pick up the new TV Guide to see what Matt Roush has to say about CBS' other new hit drama, Jericho.

Send your comments on this Q&A to online_insider@tvguide.com.