Memo to Hollywood's casting agents: Benjamin Bratt's schedule is completely open. "I have no job prospects on the horizon," admits the former Law & Order star. "The last job I worked on was Catwoman, which wrapped in February, so I haven't worked in ten months. But I'm not worried yet — it's allowed me to focus my attention on my family, which is my favorite thing to do."

Bratt does have a small part in the just-released indie film The Woodsman. He plays the genial brother-in-law of a convicted pedophile named Walter (played by Kevin Bacon). "My character's willingness to forgive and forget is a bit simplistic," admits the 41-year-old actor. "He simply wants to patch up the family and, in a straight-forward way, he feels like Walter paid his debt to society. I think there's something wrongheaded about that. Personally, I would have handled the situation in a completely different way. I don't know if I could ever forgive someone close to me who suffers from the same sickness Walter does."

Bratt was offered the role by Bacon, whom he has known since they appeared together in the 1994 thriller, The River Wild. For Bratt, the movie provided the opportunity to return to an area he loves: independent filmmaking. "Oftentimes — and I'll admit to it — a studio job is a payday. You can rest assured that a film like The Woodsman would never be produced by a studio. That's what I love about indie film, it's not afraid to take risks. It delves into this subject matter with a greater depth and a greater understanding.

"I'm not bashing studio films because they have their place and certainly from a work point of view, they're much nicer to work on. But I find a greater challenge in this particular part of American cinema."

It's appropriate then, that Bratt's next big-screen appearance will be in another indie film that will premiere at Sundance in January. "I play a small part in this movie called Thumbsucker. It's a coming of age story about a boy whose life unravels when he's forced to quit sucking his thumb. It has this really quirky cast. Tilda Swinton, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D'Onofrio and Keanu Reeves are all in it."

Wow! Considering that cast, is Bratt sure he was in an indie?