Sorry, James Brown, but there’s a new hardest-working man in showbiz — at least this month. For years, Scott Cohen has toiled as a bit player extraordinaire, appearing in everything from Law & Order and Oz to Howard Stern’s Private Parts, but lately the 35-year-old actor has staged a veritable tube takeover. First, there was his recent three-episode stint as the sleazy, alcoholic investigator Harry Denby on NYPD Blue, and this week Cohen turns up as a manimal in NBC’s sweeps fantasy The 10th Kingdom and as a detective in CBS’ JonBenet Ramsey telemovie, Perfect Murder, Perfect Town — both of which air on Feb. 27. And, of course, there’s that sexy-cute Volkswagen ad — where Cohen’s flirtation with another driver is thwarted by a stuffed-animal-tossing toddler in his backseat. (”People recognize me on the street from that,” he says. ”It’s bizarre.”) Somehow, the native New Yorker found a few minutes to talk.
Q: Is it a blessing or a curse to be competing against yourself?
A: It’s kind of a drag, but hopefully people will tape one and watch the other.
Q: So which will you be watching?
A: I think I’ll watch 10th Kingdom because I want my 4-year-old son, Liam, to see that.
Q: In Kingdom you’re a half man, half wolf who’s into self-help books. What’s up with that?
A: His desire is to be a man, but he goes through this phase, like PMS, where he has to eat something — a human being or a sheep or a rabbit or whatever. And because he’s in love with Virginia [costar Kimberly Williams], he wants this to stop. So he sees a psychiatrist and he takes all these books with him wherever he goes.
Q: Uh-huh. Which of the three roles was the most difficult?
A: NYPD Blue, definitely. I get scared of characters who have that much depth to them. I literally stayed in my hotel for a month working on it.
Q: All this TV work has earned you the nickname Mr. February. How are you coping with that?
A: Sean Whalen, who worked on Perfect Murder with me, said, ”Oh, so it’s January, Scott-uary, March…” But I can’t complain. I have 17 hours of television in one month. I think that might be a record.