Maybe you first saw Greg Kinnear cracking wise on the celebrity spoof show Talk Soup. Or maybe it was as Harrison Ford’s screw-up of a younger brother in Sabrina. But wherever you first saw him, chances are he was great in it. From a conjoined twin in the Farrelly brothers’ underrated comedy Stuck on You to a sitcom star with some seriously unusual sexual proclivities in Paul Schrader’s Auto Focus, Kinnear has proven he’s one of Hollywood’s most dependable leading men.

And now, you can find him in your living room. The Academy Award-nominated actor stars in the new FOX show Rake (Thursdays, 9pm ET) as Keegan Deane, a deeply flawed criminal defense attorney whose legal brilliance is overshadowed by his out-of-court bad behavior. Here, Kinnear explains why he’s relishing playing the rakish antihero.

“Getting to play a guy who doesn’t need approval, doesn’t care what you think, was a hugely attractive element for me.”

 

What brought you back to TV, and what drew you to this character?
I didn’t feel like I’d seen this guy before. The notion that he really was aspiring to do some things but was just incapable because of his own weaknesses and his own vices to ever quite accomplish them was interesting to me. I also like the guy’s optimism. He’s like one of those inflatable punching bags that you knock down and it bounces back up again. I don’t find it depressing. I find it slightly reaffirming that he’s back for more. It’s been fun to play the guy.

Is he a good lawyer?
Yes, but I don’t know that I’d necessarily want him to represent me. He is, for the most part, brilliant at that aspect of his life, in spite of all the other self‑destructive mechanisms in his life. And what appealed to me was that kind of mix. There’s a lot of episodes where he learns nothing, and he makes sizable mistakes as we go forward and recognizes those. And getting to play a guy who doesn’t need approval, doesn’t care what you think, was a hugely attractive element for me.

Is there anything about Keegan that you share with him?
Yeah, I’m a terrible gambler.

Keegan has complicated relationships with women. You have a wife and three daughters. How is it being surrounded by women?
Part of the cool thing of doing this show is that I’m surrounded by them a lot more than I used to be. When you leave for months at a time to do movies, you don’t get to spend that much time with them. So this has been cool because I do the show not too far from my house.

You have some movies coming up. When will we see them?
Murder of a Cat
is, I think, going to Cannes, and then Heaven Is for Real opens the 16th of April.