Jimmy Smits has been a consistent presence on TV for decades. Though he now stars on Fox’s 24: Legacy and Netflix’s The Get Down, Smits sat down with Entertainment Weekly: The Show to talk about his favorite roles over the years.
One of Smits’ first major breakout roles came on NYPD Blue, where he played Bobby Simone, the partner to Dennis Franz’s surly Andy Sipowicz. That show was known for showing some slight nudity and, in Smits’ words, “risque sexual situations,” which made every new episode a surprise for the cast. “It was fun to see every week, when the new script would come in, who was going to be at the treadmill or gym, because they knew their butt was going to be shown in that particular episode,” Smits said. “That sticks in my head: Butt work.”
Years after exiting NYPD Blue, Smits joined the later seasons of The West Wing as Matt Santos, a Barack Obama-like politician who successfully pursues a campaign to succeed Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) as president. He even recorded a live debate with his opponent, Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda). “To do a live debate, when you don’t really know much about the political situation, it was like doing a play,” Smits said. “Talk about opening-night jitters. Wow.”
Watch the full clip above.