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Benjamin Bratt Is "The Cleaner"

Actor Benjamin Bratt made his mark on series television more than a decade ago in his Emmy-nominated role as Det. Rey Curtis on NBC's "Law And Order."

This summer he's back on series television in the new A&E series "The Cleaner." He stars as William Banks, a recovering heroin addict working to save others from their own addictions while struggling to keep his family together.

"When he was at the bottom of the depths of his own drug addiction he made a pact with God," Bratt told Early Showsubstitute co-anchor Lara Spencer. "He said 'if you get me through this I will devote my life to saving other addicts.' What's funny is when I first read the script I thought the writing was fresh and edgy. When I sat down with the producers I said 'I'd love to do it. But I do feel the concept is outside the realm of possibility.'"

Bratt said the producers chuckled and then told him that the story is based on a real guy - and that guy is a producer on the show.

"I find him to be -- well, before I got to know him, an ominous presence," said Bratt. "He has a heavy energy because he's sort of 'been there, done that.' And the pilot episode is actually based on his life, where he was actually in the bathroom in the hallway down in the hospital when his daughter was being born slamming dope. That was actually real for him."

What Bratt loves about the show is how it examines the possibility of a second chance both for the addicts and the lead character.

"He's got a wife and two kids. While he strives to save other people's lives he's actually not quite so successful at home," Bratt said.

In real life, Bratt has more success at home than his character. He is married to actress Talisa Soto with whom he has two children.

"My daughter is about to start kindergarten in the fall," said Bratt. "My 2-year-old son is Mateo. They're the driving force for me in the morning, as well as wiping me out."

After "Law And Order," Bratt pursued a movie career that included roles in "Miss Congeniality," "The Woodsman" and "Traffic." He also returned to series television in 2005 in NBC's short-lived "E-Ring" and more recently in the A&E miniseries "The Andromeda Strain."

Bratt said he believes the cable setting is a great opportunity for actors to work with more interesting scripts, because writers are allowed to explore subjects in more depth.

He said that A&E is also a good setting for the show, because it's home to the documentary series "Intervention," which has been very frank in its depiction of addiction.

"In general people don't like to talk about addiction. It is still a taboo subject in our society," he said. "Yet that show and hopefully ours will be very successful because it certainly touches most of our lives. If not directly, certainly in our family or network of friends. It's good drama ultimately."

"The Cleaner" premieres on Tuesday, July 15 at 10:00 p.m.