Versatility defines Stacy Keach. Though perhaps best known for his two TV-series portrayals of private eye Mike Hammer (a DVD box set of 1997's syndicated Mike Hammer, Private Eye comes out in July), Keach has played memorable roles on stage, screen and TV since the '60s, from Richard III to Ernest Hemingway to crazy Ken Titus. Next, he'll star in the upcoming Fox show Prison Break. But before that, the actor does two TV guest spots tonight: First, he's on ABC's George Lopez Show at 8:30 pm/ET. An hour later, he pops up on NBC's Will & Grace. Here, TVGuide.com catches up with him via telephone in... Poland?
TVGuide.com: Why are you in Poland?
My wife is Polish, my kids are half Polish and we have a little house right outside of Warsaw in a place called Magdalenka, which is right on the edge of the oldest forest in Eastern Europe. My kids are going to the American School over here. I've got two teenagers.
TVG: Is that your main home now?
At the moment. We still have a condo in Beverly Hills. Because the kids are going to school here, I find myself traveling back and forth quite a bit. But we don't consider ourselves expatriates. We are still very much California people.
TVG: So you're doing two guest shots on one night. Quite a coup!
I had a great time on both shows. On Will & Grace, I worked with [director] Jimmy Burrows, who's an old classmate of mine. We went to Yale together. It was like a reunion. I play this self-absorbed, out-of-work actor who's become an acting teacher and usurped Jack McFarland's (Sean Hayes) acting-school methodology. It's a fun part. Of course, I get my comeuppance.
TVG: What can you tell us about Prison Break?
We follow these young people through their exploits in prison, and the part that I play, the warden, is very much away from the cliché. He has a hard side to him, but he's out of the ordinary. He prevails upon one of the inmates, who's a structural engineer, to help him build a matchstick version of the Taj Mahal for his wife of 40 years, because he loves her dearly and feels he hasn't given her her due. It's unique to see a guy who's actually a sweet, good, caring person and not just your hard-ass prison official.
TVG: Random question. You worked with the late George C. Scott in 1972's The New Centurions. What was that like?
One day, we were shooting in downtown Los Angeles, and there were a lot of fans. And they were yelling, "Hey, there's General Patton, there's General Patton!" And I remember him stopping and looking, and very quietly going over and saying, "I am not General Patton. I'm George C. Scott." [Laughs] No actor likes to be identified exclusively with any one character. In later years, I discovered the same kind of sensibility when people would identify me as Mike Hammer. But I wouldn't say, "I'm not Mike Hammer. I'm Stacy Keach." That's not my style.