Twin Roles For Benjamin Bratt

In the new film "Abandon," Benjamin Bratt plays a police detective on the trail of a missing college student. In his personal life, Bratt, 39, is preparing for another new role -that of father.

Bratt tells Julie Chen on The Early Show that the film is the directing debut of Stephen Gagen, who won an Academy Award for writing "Traffic". He says it was working with the writer/director of "Abandon" that attracted him to the film.

"We knew he was a good storyteller on paper," says Bratt. "I wanted to see if he could, you know, translate it onto celluloid ... He created a story that was very moody, very dense in its texture, very suspenseful. [It] intrigued me."

The psychological thriller tries to bring a unique perspective to the formulaic genre.

Bratt explains: "I think the film is not afraid to move at its own pace. It is a fairly typical genre, a psychological thriller. I'm the old man in the group as it were. And yet, it's, not afraid to be sophisticated — doesn't condescend to its audience. It's sort of a thinking person's film."

Bratt says at first he was reluctant to play the detective in "Abandon" because he was tired of playing law enforcement roles. In 1995, he joined the hit NBC series "Law & Order" in its sixth season as Reyaldo 'Rey' Curtis — earning a supporting actor Emmy nomination for the role. He played FBI Agent Eric Matthews in the movie "Miss Congeniality." He says he didn't want to be typecast as that character for his career.

"But, Wade Hanlon, the character that I play, is a recovering alcoholic and someone who actually doesn't want to be doing the job that he's doing," says Bratt. "He fell into detective work. His uncle apparently is the back-story. He's the one who got him into the department. It's a small college town, not much of an option out there."

However, Bratt found himself in an unfamiliar setting when filming started — the 39-year-old seemed to have been the elder statesman of the cast. "It felt a little odd, and I thought to myself, 'OK, this is that moment that everyone talks about, when you finally become old.'" says Bratt about acting with college-age colleagues. "But, no. Outside of that one moment, it … wasn't something I gave much thought to."

In "Abandon," Bratt teams with the younger co-star Katie Holmes for the first time. He says working with Holmes added to his decision to work in the film. "I had seen her in "Wonder Boys" and "Go," I believe, and "The Gift," says Bratt. "She's striking, you know? She … I think, she has broken away from the pack of young actresses, not only in her choices, but in her … the quality that she possesses."

Bratt has worked with talented actresses before, and even dated the "Pretty Woman" star Julia Roberts. But today, he is no longer an eligible bachelor. He is married to Talisa Soto — his co-star in the critically acclaimed movie "Piñero."

"She's an amazing woman. What I mean, she has transformed my life with her soulfulness and her … the way she loves me," say Bratt.

The couple is expecting their first child.

"I have no words. I have no idea what to expect," says Bratt. "But, I have no words to describe my excitement. I know I just feel in my gut how good it's gonna be. I was born to be a father, I think."

Bratt's next movie, "The Great Raid," is slated for a 2003 release. The film will be based on the book "The Great Raid on Cabanatuan: Rescuing the Doomed Ghosts of Bataan and Corregidor," by William B. Breuer, which told the true story of Col. Henry Mucci's raid on a notorious Japanese death camp in the Philippines.

Facts About Benjamin Bratt

  • Benjamin Bratt was born in San Francisco, Calif. on Dec. 16, 1963
  • Bratt's mother is Peruvian Indian and his father is of German ancestry
  • Bratt is the grandson of Broadway actor George Bratt
  • The actor studied acting at UC-Santa Barbara before dropping out to pursue his acting career
  • Bratt made his film debut as John Travolta's foe in the shelved, then straight-to-cable "Chains of Gold" in 1991