Psychiatrist, heal thyself

Psychiatrist, heal thyself

HANK AZARIA plays Dr. Craig Huffstodt in the cable drama !Huff this fall. After a patient commits suicide in his office, Huff, a psychiatrist, questions his career and close relationships. Azaria spoke to PT news editor Willow Lawson about the role, real psychiatry and Hollywood’s penchant for therapy.

How do you inject humor into dark subjects, like suicide or mental illness?

You try to mimic life. If you play each moment realistically, you find some really funny things and some really moving things. And they coexist.

Why so much therapy in TV and film?

It’s a good plot device. You have someone telling their innermost secrets.

You majored in psychology.

I really believe that if acting hadn’t worked out for me, I would’ve been a therapist. I’ve been in and out of therapy for 15 years, which is completely normal if you grew up in New York and live in L.A. But it’s still taboo in many parts of the country.

Are you tempted to dole out advice?

No. I learned a long time ago that advice is pretty cheap.

Do you believe in midlife crises?

I just turned 40, and I believe that somewhere between 35 and 45 people have a defining moment–usually precipitated by a divorce, a death, a failure–that makes you rethink everything. You come out either embittered and a little smaller or you grow and say, “You know, I can’t control everything, I’d better just enjoy the day in front of me.”

Do you see yourself in Huff or his patients?

Mostly I relate to Huff and what he’s going through. And I went through that with my divorce a few years ago.

What did you learn?

Life doesn’t give you points for being a good son, good father and good husband. It doesn’t mean that things are going to go your way. It’s a very hard thing to accept.

!Huff airs Sundays on Showtime.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group