Rasing Kane

(aus Buffy the Vampire Slayer Magazine, Winter 2000)

Lindsey McDonald may be Wolfram&Hart's resident Hellraiser. But he's no match for the actor who plays him, Christian Kane.

Four years ago, Christian Kane was a bored art history major at Oklahoma. He could have probably landed a cushy corporate job selling widgets or pushing papers around his desk, but he thought of wearing a suit and tie to work every day didn't appeal to him. What he really wanted to do was act, so before the ink was dry on his diploma, Kane jumped in his pick-up truck and drove to Hollywood.

"I literally did not know one person out there, and I started working at a management company as a delivery boy," he says. Six months later, I got the lead on a show called Fame L.A. That was very cool."

Though Fame L.A. never found an audience, it wasn't long before Kane was cast in another lead role, this time on Rescue 77 (which aslo starred Buffy's Robia LaMorte). And while that series was also short-lived, its demise made Kane available to land his highest profile role to date as Angel's unflappable attorney, Lindsey McDonald. There's just one problem: he wears a suit and tie to work. Every day. The guy just can't escape it.

"I'm not a suit and tie kind of guy," he admits. "I don't even own a tie. There is not a tie in my house. I'm a little upset about wearing a suit [in the show], but so far it works. It makes me look older, so I'm not real happy about that."

Lawyer duds aside, it doesn't seem possible for Kane to be any happier than he is right now. Hiatus has allowed him to grow his hair long and get reacquainted with tee-shirts and jeans, while any traces of the tormented Wolfram&Hart litigator remain on the set. Barefoot and with drink in hand, Kane talks exitedly about everything from getting ready to record with his southern rock band (also named Kane) to where to find the best burrito in Los Angeles (La Salsa). More than anything, though, it's his enthusiams for a new season of Angel that has him buzzing.

"I get to play a bad guy with a heart. It's every actor's dream," Kane says. "You always want to play the bad guy as long as he has a heart."

He's having a blast to be sure, but the role also may be the most challenging Kane's every been asked to play. And while it's been quite a stretch for this straight-shooter from the country to play a manipulate, big-city lawyer, his greatest strenght is an ability to empathize with the conflicted character's point of view.

"When you come from nothing and someone offers you everything, you're gonna take it no matter what. I don't care who it is or what morals or values you have," he explains. "It's like buying a car. If you want $2500 for it, but somebody offers you $2000 cash in front of your face you'll probably take the two grand no matter how stiff you are on the $2500. But you're always gonna have bad feelings about it, and that's how Lindsey is."

While Lindsey did show distaste for some of his firm's more diabolical dealings in last season's "Blind Date", based on the loss of his hand and his kinship with Darla, it doesn't look like Kane's character will be wearing a white hat anytime soon.

"I've always been a Darth Vader fan, which kind of sums up the character and me," he says. "I really didn't want to be a good guy. When I read the next episode [where he decides to keep working at Wolfram&Hart], I was like, 'Yes!' It was very, very cool."

In addition to the mutual attraction to the dark side of the Force by the actor and lawyer, Kane also knows a little bit about raising hell. Of course, his experiences are more of the rebellious teenager variety than the fire-and-brimstone spell-caster sort.

"There's only two things to do where I grew up - drink beer and fight," Kane says. "I got my fair share of trouble, but I made it rough on myself. I wasn't comfortable in my own skin for a long time, and I think a lot of people paid for that. I made it a little rough on everybody when I went through that stage instead of keeping it to myself. I was just sort of a bad kid growing up, but I'm a nice guy now."

Older and wiser, Kane remains remarkably down to earth in spite of the whirlwind success he's found in Tinseltown. In a land known for glitz and glamour, Kane prefers simple pleasures. He still drives a truck with monster tires he calls Virginia's Bettis ("because Virginia's such a sweet name for a girl and because she looks like [Pittsbrugh Steeler] Jerome Bettis"), and his most prized possession is a bed.

"I slept on the floor for years, so as soon as I got my first paycheck, I called a place in New York called Architrive and say, 'Make me a bed,' "he says proudly. "They handmade the bed with a rolling breakfast table that sets at the end of the bed and rolls up. It's huge. I got three Serta mattresses, egg cushions - it's the highest bed knwon to man. As soon as you sink into it, you just lose yourself. I don't even get up until eleven, because it's impossible."

The actor credits his parents, both former rodeo riders back home in Oklahoma, for laying a solid foundation that keeps him true to his roots.

"I have very loving parents. My parents are the greatest in the world. My mom should actually get an award, I swear to God. She's probably the best mom in the entire world," he says. "My dad's just a country boy, so that's the way I grew up. He wasn't afraid to use force, and he wasn't afraid to give me a kiss. He's a great guy."

When it came to time to approach his role on Angel, however, Kane had to look elsewhere for a role model. He found it by watching a video of one of executive producer David Greenwalt's earlier television endeavors, Profit, with a little but of Matthew McConaughey's performance in A Time to Kill sprinkled in for good measure.

"Profit was one of the best lawyer shows that I've ever seen, and the guy who played Jim Profit, Adrian Pasdar, was brillian [and] David Greenwalt is a brilliant writer," says Kane. "For the cutthroat stuff, I use Profit, and for the heartfelt stuff, I go back to McConaughey."

While Kane's professional role model is nice-guy George Clooney, he can also look to a notorious bad boy - and sometimes one with whom Kane shares a tattoo artist - for tips on playing a guy that audiences seem to love to hate.

"I'm a huge Mickey Rouke fan," Kane says with a devious smile. "My manager's gonna hate that I was talking about Mickey again, because every time Mickey Rourke gets a movie going, I'm like 'Get me in on that' How could you not love Mickey? He was Harley Davidson, for chrissake!"

Should Mr. Rourke ever need representation, it looks like he's got a friend at a certain law firm that handles unique clients.

- Mike Stokes