Steven Weber is changing.
Sure, he's still the same easygoing, lovable quipster Brian Hackett on NBC's "Wings" (making its season premiere Thursday). But last summer, movie audiences also saw a darker side of Weber, as Bridget Fonda's philandering fiance in the hit thriller "Single White Female." And come November, Weber gets really dark, playing real-life California serial killer Jon Dunkle in the CBS-TV movie "In the Company of Darkness."
"I read as much as I could stomach," Weber says of Dunkle's court transcripts. "It was just too disturbing. You try to ascribe motivation (to a character) and end up wearing that suit home a little bit." The segue into seamier roles, he says, is not as much by design as necessity. "I'm not at a point in my career where I have the luxury to choose," admits the New York native. "If someone's interested in me, I'm interested. These parts just happen to be a little darker."
Weber, 31, whose TV credits include "As the World Turns" and playing J.F.K. in "The Kennedys of Massachusetts," is the offspring of a nightclub singer and a manager of borscht-belt comedians. "But they weren't stage parents," stresses the actor, who appeared in "Made in Bangkok" at the Mark Taper Forum in 1988. "I got bitten by the acting bug in the third grade--we were doing Sendak's 'Where the Wild Things Are.' I was a minor character, but I got on stage and ad-libbed shamelessly, abusively."