By Greg Hernandez, Staff Writer It would be completely understandable if Kevin Rankin woke up in the morning and didn't know where he was or who he was.
The Los Angeles-based actor has found himself juggling regular roles on the NBC dramas "Friday Night Lights" - filmed in Austin, Texas, - and the Vancouver-based "Bionic Woman."
"For 2 1/2 months at the beginning of the season, I wasn't home for more than a day every two weeks," Kevin said recently.
The writers strike has temporarily put a stop to the scheduling madness, with production on both shows halted for now. But the 31-year-old actor will guest-star on the second episode of NBC's "Law & Order," which returns with new episodes in early January.
On "Lights," Kevin stars as quadriplegic "Herc," who meets an injured high school football player in rehab and becomes his mentor.
"I basically show him how to live life all over again and that life is not over," he explained. "Right when I got to Austin, they put me in a wheelchair and sent me to rehab. For a month straight, I was in a wheelchair on and off set, really trying to live the life. It just brought more of the attitude that these guys carry."
"Lights" received some backlash early in its second season with a murder story line that many fans didn't feel was true to the show.
"I think some of the story lines might have been sort of an answer to the networks," Kevin said with typical candor. "It got sexed up a little bit - some say jump the shark. There was a murder. But the way that the characters handle these situations is what 'Friday Night Lights' is all about. Initially, when they had marketing, they touted it as a football show. People tuned in and saw that football was really a background character. It's a hard show to market. It's sort of a sweeping soap opera on the Texas landscape."
So with a good role on "Lights," how did Kevin end up on "Bionic" as well?
"At the beginning of the season, they did a lot of retooling. They fired some of the producers and writers. The guy they brought on to fix the show was Jason Katims. He was the show-runner for `Friday Night Lights.' Within a week, he called me up and invited me and offered me the part. He said come up and try and instill some humor, and ground it in reality a little bit. I became Nathan, the bionics guy, I work with computers. I'm going out on missions and learning how to fight."
While "Lights" is on firm footing, the future of "Bionic" is less certain, with ratings suffering a steep decline after a promising start.
"The show was getting its feet under it before the strike happened, but I'm not sure if it's coming back," he admitted. "I just don't think it got a fair shake. I'd love to see it come back."
Kevin's first regular television role came on NBC's short-lived but well-remembered comedy "Undeclared," in which he played the resident adviser in a college dorm. He knew he was a part of something special because the show was created by writer/director Judd Apatow, who is responsible for such movie hits as "Knocked Up" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin."
"That took me to a different level," he said of "Undeclared."
"Little did I know that a couple of years later, (Apatow) would be the biggest thing in town."
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