"I make sure that I recycle everything. I had a big car and I got rid of it," says Holt McCallany, star of FX's gripping new drama series "Lights Out." "I feel like we're at a very tenuous moment in our history as a species on the planet and I feel like unless we make a big change in the way that we live, I have a very forbidding feeling about looming disaster for future generations," he believes. The set was green by default. "We were struggling with a low budget, so there were no frills anyway," he explains. "It was a bare bones situation."

In the series, premiering Jan. 11, McCallany plays a cash-strapped former heavyweight boxing champion who resorts to undignified, shady and ultimately dangerous ways to support his family. "This definitely the most challenging experience I've ever had as an actor," says the muscular New York-born actor, who made recurring appearances on "Heroes" and "CSI: Miami." He trained for "countless hours" with Golden Gloves fighters when he got the part. "I'd go to the gym every morning and sometimes not leave until the evening. I know that I really paid my dues in that area," says McCallany, who suffered no broken bones but sported "a lot of black eyes," something he accepted as part of the job.

"You have to get over the fact that you make your living with your face. You have to forget about that. You're going to get hit. That's the nature of the beast," he notes. "The only way to do it is to train with accomplished boxers because you're not going to get better unless you're fighting guys who are better than you."

His character Patrick "Lights" Leary's story is similar to one a lot of aging athletes face, he says. "There can be a lot of adulation and glory and attention surrounding being a world champion fighter, but for many of them, when it's over, it's over. You've devoted every waking hour to a very specific endeavor and now that's behind you." Getting to play that has been a career highlight. "When I first read the script I understood that this wasn't just a role on a television show, that this was one of those special parts that don't come along very often," says McCallany. "I've been doing this for a long time and I've worked with many great actors and directors. But this is something special and I recognize that."

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