Josh Duhamel: Lee Roth/
January 21, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

It’s only January, but it’s already been a good year for Josh Duhamel. Not only does he make his major motion picture debut in ”Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!” on Jan. 23, but his new TV show, ”Las Vegas” (NBC, Mondays, 9 p.m.) is shaping up to be a sleeper hit. Not bad for a guy who once dreamt of being a dentist. talked to Duhamel, 31, about being a beefcake, why he doesn’t mind being seen on the toilet, and why Britney Spears is welcome on his show anytime.

Tad seems like an awful lot of A-list actors. Were you channeling anyone in particular?
I tried to keep it as ambiguous as I could, but there were definitely people that we took note of and poked fun at. Still, I don’t think there was anybody specifically that we were trying to imitate. I wanted the character to be someone who had become detached from what he was when he first broke out, not the Hollywood cliché of a superstar.

In the movie, Topher Grace confronts you while you’re sitting on the toilet. How embarrassing was it to shoot that scene?
I loved that scene! Anytime when the movie could have become sappy or melodramatic, there was this contrast of humor. That these two guys were having a man-to-man talk while one of them was on the crapper meant things never got too sappy.

You and Grace also rip off your shirts in the film. Did you mind being the film’s resident beefcake?
I don’t mind doing scenes like that, as long as they’re not gratuitous. And that wasn’t even in the script, it was something Topher and I wanted to do. Before we shot the scene, Topher said to me, why don’t we rip our shirts off so this makes me look even worse and it’s even more embarrassing? And I thought that was a great idea.

In addition to this movie, you’re also starring on a new TV show, ”Las Vegas.” Has it been nerve-wracking tracking the ratings?
We started off with a bang, then we dropped a little bit, but that always happens the second time around. Last week’s numbers were the best we’d ever had. But maybe I’m getting false information, like Tad. Maybe the people at the network are telling me, ”Everything’s great!” while they’re wondering, ”Should we cut this thing or keep it around for a little bit?”

You’re hobbling around on crutches in a few episodes of ”Las Vegas.” Were you actually injured?
I ruptured my Achilles’ tendon a few weeks ago playing basketball, so they wrote it into the script that I got shot in the foot. It was fun for a couple of episodes, because there were a lot of gags we could do with the crutches. But then they were like, OK, we need you to walk again, joke’s over.

Britney Spears was reportedly going to guest star on the show until her quickie Vegas wedding took place. Did you hear anything about it?
I thought that was just rumbling within the writers’ office, but apparently that’s news. Well, I guess everything she does is news. It’s a good idea, we’d love to have her. And she was actually in Vegas while we were shooting there. I remember having breakfast at 4:30 in the morning, and I saw her just coming in for the night.

You May Like