Celeb Spotlight: Ron Livingston

07/19/2006 at 06:00 AM EDT

Celeb Spotlight: Ron Livingston
Vince Flores/CelebrityPhoto
Age: 39
Hometown: Marion, Iowa
Current gig: Starring in the TNT miniseries Stephen King's Nightmares & Dreamscapes

He can be intense
He was Carrie's Post-It Note breakup guy on Sex and the City and a disillusioned drone in the '99 cult classic Office Space, but Livingston is getting serious – and a little scary – in the TNT miniseries Nightmares & Dreamscapes. In his episode airing tonight, he plays a filmmaker with only an hour left to live. So, what would he do if the clock was ticking toward his demise? "I would probably want to talk to my family," he says of his parents, Kurt, an aerospace engineer, and Linda, a Lutheran minister.

He's a Yale man
Growing up in Iowa, Livingston was "a big nerd. I was in plays and on the wrestling team," he says. He took his passion for acting to Yale University, where he majored in drama and directed classmate Edward Norton in a production of The Cherry Orchard. After graduating in 1989, he set out for L.A., where he got small parts in films and eventually landed on the Hollywood map opposite Jennifer Aniston in Office Space. "It was a huge break for me. I'm really, really proud of that movie," he says.

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And after roles in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers and the show The Practice, he made an indelible impression as Sarah Jessica Parker's novelist beau Jack Berger on Sex and the City. "It was great. The boyfriends basically showed up a couple of days a week and got nasty looks as we went on with the rest of our day off," he says with a laugh. "It was a fantastic way to see New York City."

... And a piano man
When he's not working, the L.A.-based actor likes to tinkle the ivories. "I'm playing a lot of piano lately," he says. "I'm trying to work my way through jazz and blues – Dr. John, Randy Newman, some of the older stuff." And you can often find him at home wielding a hammer. "I'm doing a little bit of home repair these days – that's about my only sport."

He likes smart women
Next up for Livingston: playing an FBI hostage negotiator trying to balance his harrowing job with an office romance (with costar Rosemary DeWitt) in the fall FOX drama Standoff. Livingston admits he's had no shortage of lovely leading ladies. "That's nice work if you can get it," says the single actor (who was once engaged to actress Lisa Sheridan). So, what does he look for in a real-life leading lady? "I find a lot of things attractive in a woman. Beautiful, smart and funny is always a good place to start."

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