With a set full of critters from lizards to lions and a scene-stealing monkey, "The Humane Society is on top of everything we do here. I'm sure the animals will be taken much better care of than I ever was," says Justin Kirk, the human star of "Animal Practice." Premiering Sept. 26, the NBC comedy casts Kirk as a veterinarian who's terrific with animals but somewhat lacking in people skills.


Kirk wasn't looking for a series, but was winding up his run in a play and liked the script and the direction the producers wanted to take. "It was a very strong specific character that I knew I would know how to act, and it was also 180 degrees from Andy Botwin on 'Weeds.' Andy takes life at full speed and loves everything around him. This guy maybe is not as emotionally generous. He has a smaller emotional range, but maybe that'll come out in interesting ways."


For research, "One of my closest friends in New York is an exclusive cat veterinarian so I've spent some time with him, and I'm going to continue to do the same while I'm here [in L.A.]." Although he had a dog as a kid, he has no pets now because of his peripatetic lifestyle and long days on the set. "I'm not married, I don't have kids so I'm OK with long days of work," he says


Kirk has two movies awaiting release, the Amy Heckerling comedy "Vamps," in which he plays "a sex addict Ukrainian vampire," and "Mr. Morgan's Last Love," shot during "Weeds'" last hiatus with Michael Caine. "We have a lot of father/son angst," he says.


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