Thesp bowls his way into viewers' hearts

It’s entirely possible that Tom Cavanagh isn’t acting at all on “Ed,” one of the few freshman shows that connected with auds and is returning for a second season: He’s as nice and easygoing on the phone as his character is on the series.

Get him talking about his true passion, the Montreal Canadiens, and Cavanagh, 32, gushes about watching the glory years of Les Habitants. That enthusiasm carries over as the conversation drifts to “Ed” and the exposure it has afforded him.

“From being on a pilot to people recognizing you on the street is great. You’re lucky if it happens to you,” says Cavanagh, who gained some notoriety a couple of years back as Dogboy on NBC’s “Providence.”

And when “Ed” moved from Sundays to Wednesdays in midseason, it gained a few more million eyes.

“Yeah, that was nice,” he recalls of the switch, “but, to be honest, we could’ve been on the air at 4 a.m. after an infomercial and we’d say, ‘Yeah, we’ve made it!’ “

He and Julie Bowen, who portrays romantic interest Carol Vessey, often laugh about their work is beamed inside millions of homes across the country.

“We were just talking about this,” says Cavanagh from Vancouver, where he’s filming a movie for Showtime with Ben Foster. “We’re just doing our thing, making a living on the set. Then, all of a sudden, our work is landing out there in the world.”

The relationship between Cavanagh and Bowen’s characters has made for great water-cooler discussion, wondering whether the two would finally get together. But the actor is aware that other shows that had their leads hook up — “Moonlighting,” for example — left many viewers cold.

Not to worry in Stuckeyville, he explains.

“There’s always that threat that they might get together but I don’t think it would hurt the show,” Cavanagh says. “I think that shows that solely depend upon that relationship — will they or won’t they — have it harder.

“The important thing is to create a place where that if they will or won’t doesn’t matter, where there’s other things going on. Rob and Jon (series creators Burnett and Beckerman) have created that place.”

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