11/13/2006 at 01:00 AM EST
It's the end of the world as he knows it, and Skeet Ulrich looks fine. Before playing the brooding hero in CBS's apocalyptic drama Jericho, the former bad boy (born Bryan Trout), 36, traded fame for a farm in 2001, moving close to Charleston, Va., with his wife, actress Georgina Cates. Now divorced and back in L.A., the father of 5-year-old twins, Naiia and Jakob, told PEOPLE's Lisa Ingrassia how he's surviving his return to Hollywood.
Do you miss the farm?
I miss clean air. [On weekends] I take the kids outside of town, and Naiia rides a four-wheeler, and Jakob rides a dirt bike. It's a great escape.
What about your trademark goatee?
I got tired of trimming it. The good thing about getting out of [Hollywood] was I became less aware of what I looked like.
If there was a mushroom cloud over Los Angeles, how could you help?
I would have skills to lend. I build furniture—I could build shelter.
Make anything lately?
I built an easel for the kids' preschool. It's 10 feet, so four kids can paint at once. It's redwood and jarrah [an Australian tree]. It makes mahogany look weak.
Do the kids know Dad's famous?
They come on set. They've been around it a long time, so it's nothing unusual. They get latched onto [things like], "What is radiation?"
How's your cooking?
They love it when I cook Pizza Hut! No, they love my spaghetti.
Are you finding time for romance?
I haven't been on a date yet. I haven't met anybody that has struck my fancy in that way. There's certainly a mourning period. Sometimes I get lonely, but I'm having fun on my own. Work is great. Fatherhood is great.
So no Saturday night dates?
Usually I sleep. It's the one time I can!
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