Molar Maniac

updated 05/15/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/15/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

James Le Gros relishes his role as Mark Albert, Ally McBeal's hotshot new attorney. "His style can be brash," says Le Gros. "He steps on toes." But, adds the actor, "he has this thing with his teeth, where he has a dental hygienist who comes to the office three days a week to clean them." Quirky? On Ally McBeal? Le Gros, 38, a fan of the FOX show even before he was tapped in March to succeed Gil Bellows (Billy), says he expected such eccentricities. Besides, he has played offbeat types in many of his 40-odd films-from a junkie in 1989's Drugstore Cowboy to a preening movie idol in 1995's Living in Oblivion.

What appealed to Jonathan Pontell, a former Ally executive producer, was Le Gros's "great dry sense of humor." Plus, says Greg Germann (Fish), "the girls on the show are really crazy about him." Le Gros, the only child of a Redlands, Calif., real estate agent (now deceased) and his teacher wife, says he took up acting in high school "just to meet girls." At 19, he was serious enough to drop out of the University of California at Irvine and move to L.A., where he found steady work in TV and films. Married to photographer Kristina Loggia, 39, and the father of two sons, ages 6 and 3, Le Gros, says Kristina, is "a great dad." He is, however, just a so-so golfer. "I'm lucky if I break 100," he admits. Mostly he spends 15-hour days on Ally, where, says Le Gros, "everyone's been really nice. They haven't tied me up and lathered me with whipped cream." Just wait.

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