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The Time Between

Armed with his usual positive outlook on life, actor Michael Nouri heads for Broadway.

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One way he occupies himself is as an ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He began that work 10 years ago when his wife (they are now separated) came down with the disease, and he continues to devote time to the cause. "I work as a spokesman, and I try to increase people's awareness," he says. "I just do what I can."
Over the past three years, he was a regular on the CBS sitcom "Love and War." "It was one of the hardest things I've ever done," he says. "I lucked into working with a very talented cast and great writers and producers like Diane English. I learned a great deal, but it scared the hell out of me. It's creating a play in five days. For some actors it may be easy, but for me it was very tough."
Performing, he says, is also very tough. "There are problems in any career, but as long as your self-esteem is intact you can say you'll ride it out. But when your self-esteem is affected and you're doubting yourself, things can be difficult. An actor is his own product. He or she is the marketable product. And your self-esteem is always affected. It can go both ways. It can be deflated or it can be overinflated. Both are losing propositions."
In the past, he says, he "spent a lot of time doubting, doubting, giving myself a lot of dumb information. And that was a voice that did not serve me well." But things have changed, he says. "Through growing, and through being with loving, supportive friends, I came to understand that I could have whatever I wanted."
He laughs, and points to the Montecristo No. 2 that he had returned to the table and that has been resting there, patiently awaiting the proper moment. He picks it up again. "Like a great Cuban cigar," he says.
Mervyn Rothstein is an editor at The New York Times, and a frequent contributor to Cigar Aficionado.
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