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'Necessary Roughness' star Thorne hides behind her characters

| Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, 8:53 p.m.

Callie Thorne has often found herself just one of the boys. When she co-starred on “Homicide: Life on the Streets,” she held her own with a crew of cops. On “Rescue Me,” she was the gutsy paramour among a crew of macho firemen. And in her current role on USA's “Necessary Roughness” she plays the psychotherapist to a pro-football team who clearly calls the plays.

But Thorne admits it's all an act. “The reason I get so nervous for talk shows is because I get nervous being myself,” she says.

“I worry that I'm not interesting enough or clever enough, and that goes way back to when I was younger, and I figured out pretty early in high school that to be able to be somebody else and to rely on someone else's lines and character's journey — then I got to be interesting and complex,” she says.

“And (it) also releases a lot of anxiety and emotions and things that could fill my head. ... But that feeling of being in front of the camera or in front of an audience and telling a story releases all of that, that creative stuff. So, I think those are the two main reasons why I act.”

In spite of her laudatory work, Thorne has been close to quitting twice — and each time fate intervened in a mysterious way. “Those first years in New York, '91 through '93, were the hardest and loneliest and hungriest — I was so hungry all the time,” she recalls.

Surviving on one meal a day at McDonald's, she remembers, “I was also very lonely and not able to see far enough in the future whether or not it was worth it. My mother is a very gifted astrologer, and at the time I called her and said, ‘I've made a terrible mistake. And I think I'd better come back to Boston, go back to school and study what you told me to study, psychology.' My mother did my chart and she came back and said, ‘As much as I want you to come home, if you can hold on until the end of '94, I see everything turning 180.'”

In the span of one week, Thorne managed to capture the lead in an independent film, obtain an agent and wangle roles in two plays. “My mother said, ‘Three big things.' And the third was I was doing two plays, one with Frank Whaley. During that play, I would miss the curtain call so I could jump in a cab and change and do a nighttime soap onstage at Naked Angels theater company. So, that four months of time, I'd be shooting a movie during the day, hike it downtown to do the 8 o'clock, then jump in a cab to do the 10 o'clock. Even though I was so hungry and the skinniest I'd ever been — which was not attractive — those three things happened and did change the course of my life. My mother was right. I called her after each thing and she'd say, ‘One more thing is coming.'”

Thorne claims she doesn't share the gift for astrology, although she says she's intuitive and often perceptive. The other event that shook up her life was the death of her maternal grandfather, whom she affectionately calls Papi.

She was co-starring in a play in La Jolla, Calif., when she got the news. “He was one of the only men in my life at that point,” she says. “I have an incredible stepfather and father, but my Papi was the one that was around. So, when he died, it was the first death I'd experienced ever. So it hit me really hard. ... I went home and went to the funeral. And not for nothing, the people at the play were like, ‘You've got 24 hours. You'd better come back. You don't have an understudy.' But I thought, ‘I don't care. I don't care. This is too much.' And nothing mattered.

“When I went home to the funeral, I was meditating a lot of the time. I was trying to calm myself down and figure out how I was going to live without Papi, and I had a very intense vision of him telling me to basically pull my boot straps up and stop feeling sorry, that he was now my guardian angel and to get back on the plane. It was very specific,” she says.

“It was like he was speaking to me. It was just a lesson, because it was about several things: Drop the pity party. It was to get back on the course of the thing that made me feel so ‘Callie' and so good, and that life goes on and that he was going to be with me always. ... I stepped back into that theater and I felt like he was there holding my hand. And that is what I bounce to when I get really, really nervous, I bounce to my Papi and imagine him holding my hand in regards to acting and realizing that anything is possible.”

Luaine Lee is a staff writer for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

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