TOLAN: [laughs] The original character name was Taylor Peters, and I ended up changing it to Taylor Mendon because I thought, 'I'm being a little obvious here.' I have been known to gamble in my day. I'm not a drinker, and I've never really taken drugs, but I wanted to make myself appear a little sexier.

TOLAN: My wife did get a call a couple of years ago from a family friend who had a child who was in trouble in Vegas. And in that moment of my wife saying, "Maybe Peter can go to Vegas and try to help out," I thought, 'Hey great, I get to go to Vegas.' In that moment, I thought, 'You are just a complete sick bastard.' That's how far into my own head I was with the gambling. In the next instant I thought, 'Well, that's a movie — a guy who's that messed up.'

TOLAN: You don't control your studio work. You get rewritten, and you're not there saying, "Boy, I would do it this way... ." Nobody really wants to hear that. As a result, things go out with your name on it, and I think after a while people go, "Oh, he writes that." So I felt like I really had to make a movie and re-establish — as the kids would say today — my street cred, in terms of who I was in features. And I was completely energized by it like I hadn't been in years.

TOLAN: I would like there to be a new stage. I'm actually doing well writing these days. I'm going through a fertile period. And I feel good about my writing — where I get into situations and I go, 'I know how to fix that.' As a result, I'm five seasons in on "Rescue Me," and this fifth season we're just on fire. The first six episodes are some of the best stuff we've ever done.

TOLAN: Well, if you work in cable, it's fantastic. But the networks have gotten a lot more restrictive. And there are much fewer hours available for scripted programming. So the odds of getting on the air and staying there are much worse than they used to be. It's a real battleground.

TOLAN: Yeah, cable has taken the mantle of that, especially in drama. Or drama of note. And I guess this is what the networks were meant to be — they're meant to be all things to all men. Which was a great model that worked when there were three networks. Now it's just not possible anymore, and they're clinging to that idea. So you get very accessible programming that doesn't challenge too much. If you want to be challenged as a writer or as a viewer, you go to cable. (partialdiff)