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Carla Gugino is a gypsy by nature, so the notion of being tied down to a long-run television series is not as appealing as it might seem.
"I really love pouring myself into a character for several months and leaving her," said Gugino. "Pouring myself into someone for a long time is very intimidating to me,"
That is, unless it's a project she's really psyched about, which is why she said yes to the CBS drama "Threshold," where she stars as the leader of a team searching for alien life believed to have touched down in the United States.
"I really felt like, wow, most pilots, when you read the script, you know what each episode is going to be like," she said of the Friday night show. "This one is an entirely new world."
Besides Gugino, the show stars Charles S. Dutton, Brian Van Holt, Brent Spiner, Rob Benedict and Peter Dinklage.
So far, the early ratings and reviews for "Threshold" have been positive, suggesting that this series may be around for a while.
"It's a really ambitious show and that to me is really exciting," Gugino said. "It's something that really feels like its own, while paying homage to other things."
For Gugino, the role of Dr. Molly Anne Caffrey on "Threshold" is just the latest in a career filled with turns.
She's played a doctor on "Chicago Hope," a cop on "Karen Sisco" and Michael J. Fox's girlfriend on "Spin City." And on the big screen, she's gone from the secret agent mother in the "Spy Kids" films to playing a prostitute in "The Center of the World."
Over the summer, for instance, she did a movie called "Even Money," which she said was a human story about gamblers, and "Rise," a supernatural thriller where she played a vampire femme fatale.
"By the time I'm 80, I want to have played almost every role," Gugino said. "For me, I always gravitate toward the opposite of what I've done. ... That comes from the inner desire to do more."
With that comes risks, of course. Sometimes the projects she's passionate about aren't critical - or more important - audience darlings.
"This is a risk I have to take for me," she said. "For me, it's always about having something I can be proud of, that's cool. I would rather have that than a mediocre show that's a huge success."
(c) 2005, New York Daily News. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.