LOS ANGELES – ''I hesitate to call it entertainment,'' Dylan McDermott (search) says about "The Grid," a new TNT miniseries about the worldwide threat of terrorism.
''It's intriguing. It's a deep and thoughtful piece and you really have to sit there and deal with a lot of different things, and you are instilled with some fear.''
Best known as crusading lawyer Bobby Donnell on "The Practice," McDermott plays FBI agent Max Canary in this six-episode drama premiering at 8 p.m. on Monday.
It also stars Julianna Margulies (search), an Emmy winner as nurse Carol Hathaway on NBC's "ER," in the role of National Security Council Deputy Director Maren Jackson, who heads up a counterterrorism mission following a sarin gas incident in London.
Playing British agents in the series, which TNT produced with the BBC, are Jemma Redgrave and Bernard Hill. Another British actor, Alki David (search), portrays Muhammad, the terrorist ring leader.
McDermott admired the script for depicting villains, who, just like the good guys, have lives. He also was intrigued by the relationship Canary has with the wife of his best friend, killed in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.
Executive producer Tracey Alexander says that ever since 9/11 she was interested in creating a drama about how the world has changed since then. She also was inspired by the format of Traffic, the movie and TV series that depicted the international drug trade from various viewpoints.
Alexander believes McDermott brings emotional power to his Everyman role. ''He personifies the anguish, fear and sadness a lot of people feel. Yet he has to continue to battle on,'' she said.
McDermott starred on "The Practice" from 1997 to 2003 before being axed with some other original cast members in a cost-cutting move.
As a counterpoint to his honorable "Practice" image, McDermott played a shady character in the film "Wonderland," and he does so again as a drugged-out undercover cop in the upcoming movie "Edison."
Next year he has plans for a theater piece that was created for him by his stepmother, playwright Eve Ensler, who conceived "The Vagina Monologues" and has been an important mentor for him.
McDermott is rarely comfortable watching himself on screen. ''I can sort of enjoy watching my bad-guy roles, because, maybe, I'm removed from it a little bit. But this guy (Canary) is maybe a bit closer to me, so it's more difficult.''