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He was future-focused, then auditioned on a whim.

Headed to family profession (law), his life reversed itself

PASADENA, Calif. - Mark Feuerstein had no intention of ever becoming an actor. He hails from a clan of lawyers, and that's what he dreamed of doing. But along the way, life sent him careening in another direction.

"I went the reverse of what every kid does. They grow up wanting to be a movie star and become a lawyer. I grew up wanting to be a lawyer and became an actor."

How did he go so wrong? "A funny thing happened on the way to football practice my freshman year at Princeton," he says in a deserted dining room of a hotel here.

"Before that, I'd never acted, except reading scenes in modern drama class in high school. And I was on all these extracurricular activities and committees, even in college. And I was building a resume for the next rung on the ladder. And I just stopped. And I said, 'Why am I continuing to build a resume when I don't know what I actually love to do?' And I was so on that track to go to law school and be an executive at Goldman Sachs, and then I auditioned for a play on a whim."

He flunked his first audition. But on the second, he snagged a part in Orphans and earned a Fulbright scholarship to study drama in London for a year.

Once back in New York, he landed an agent and started doing voice-overs to support himself.

"I was on Caroline in the City two years later. And my parents could see their son, and they could believe that I hadn't thrown my life away," he says.

"So I was luckier than a lot of actors to have some quote-unquote legitimate proof of a possibility of a career."

Four years ago, Feuerstein married writer Dana Klein (Kath & Kim, Friends). They have a daughter, 3, a son, 1, and another child due in September. Two artists living together can be thorny, he admits.

"But we're difficult in a way that was somehow divinely crafted for each of us to be able to understand the other's difficulties and 'difficultness.' Such that we could be patient enough with it because we see it in ourselves. . . . We want things. We want attention. We want success.

"But for each other, we're going to mitigate those needs enough to hold each other's hand and say, 'You know what? I know it's hard, and you want these things.' And at the end of the day, we just fall onto the couch after the kids are in bed and we watch our favorite shows and eat our favorite snacks and there's nothing else to my marriage if not that - that cozy time on the couch."

Feuerstein eventually co-starred in films like What Women Want, In Her Shoes, and the sitcom Good Morning, Miami.

But his latest endeavor, Royal Pains, at 10 Thursday nights on USA, seems to parallel his own life. He plays a young physician who, through a series of accidents, ends up a "concierge doctor" to the rich and infamous in the hoity-toity Hamptons.