SEVERAL WEEKS AGO, TWO RECENT business school grads came up to Adrian Pasdar at a Manhattan theater and began gushing about his star turn in the extravagantly praised new Fox series Profit (Mondays, 9 p.m. ET). "They said it was great to have somebody representing them on television," says Pasdar, laughing. His character, Jim Profit, is an ultraslick young exec who rises to the top of the conglomerate Gracen & Gracen by any means necessary, including seducing the wife of one rival and framing another for murder. At night, Profit sleeps in a cardboard box, like something out of Twin Peaks (to which Profit has been compared). "I don't think Profit is devoid of morality," Pasdar says. "He's just on a different plane than the rest of us."
Pasdar, 30, considers himself more down-to-earth. He grew up in Philadelphia—"a good kid with a good heart," he has said—the son of a surgeon and a homemaker. After dropping out of college to become an actor, he had a promising start—a small role in the 1986 blockbuster Top Gun, the lead in the 1987 cult vampire film Near Dark—but he was dissatisfied with his Hollywood career. By 1992 he was back in Manhattan, flipping burgers in a diner while doing small parts in New York City-centered films like Carlito's Way. "Now," says the never-married Pasdar with a smile, "I spend more time in suits than anyone in the corporate world."