In uniform. Between the sheets. These are two places on screen where Rick Rossovich is often found. ”Why is it that everyone calls me Mike, acts like they know me, and thinks I’m a cop?” jokes the 37-year-old actor, whose credits run from very military (Top Gun, Navy SEALs) to very hunky (Roxanne, Paint It Black). His highest-profile uniform of late, a white surgeon’s coat on ER, was that of surgeon John ”Tag” Taglieri, who left nurse Carol Hathaway (Julianna Margulies) at the altar in last season’s finale. Currently Rossovich can be seen as a cop (not in uniform, often between the sheets) on the trail of a killer in Playboy Films’ first direct-to-video feature, Cover Me.
In reality and out of uniform, Rossovich’s sculpted build, angular face, and buzz cut do suggest something soldierly. But at home, in a black sleeveless T-shirt, brown jeans, and sneakers, he’s an earthy, gregarious sort who does the gardening and most of the repair work at his family’s home north of L.A. ”I’m the normal guy who goes to the hardware store really dirty,” he says. His biceps come not from pumping iron, Rossovich says, but from lifting granite, chopping firewood, and laying patios and walkways (he spends three months each summer fixing up the farmhouse he and his wife, Eva, bought in her native Sweden). ”If I could have my wish, I would be Martha Stewart’s houseboy,” he deadpans.
The fourth of five children, Rossovich grew up on a Northern California ranch, tending to cows and trudging to school where he, of course, played football. (Big brother Tim played pro ball for a decade, mostly for the Philadelphia Eagles.) After studying art and sculpture at Sacramento State, he moved to L.A. around 1980 to work on set construction. His second day there he got a job as a (non-fighting) C.I.A. agent in a ”minuscule”-budget martial-arts movie. ”I got paid $90 for three days’ work and bluffed my way along,” he says.
He’s made a nice living as an actor ever since. ”I’m in the middle of the pack,” he says, ”and that’s okay. I’m a journeyman.” Rossovich, who admits he’s happy if he gets a good part every five years, has already secured his next gig, starring as a bike-riding cop by the beach on the upcoming USA Network series Pacific Blue. His erratic schedule affords him lots of time to play with kids Roy, 9, and Isabel, 4, work on the house, or, as he did recently, throw everything off the kitchen counter, tell his wife to take off her clothes, then give her a full-body massage. ”It’s just a career,” he says. ”I don’t worry about not having jobs in Hollywood — there’s plenty of stuff to do here.”