Jennifer Armstrong
August 06, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Denis Leary seems to have found the perfect character for his wisecracking persona and brash humor: ”Rescue Me”’s wisecracking, brash Tommy Gavin, a New York firefighter still mourning the death of his cousin in the Sept. 11 attacks. And after striking out in 2002 with the edgy critical fave ”The Job” (ABC ”left us alone creatively, which was great,” he says, ”but they also left us alone in terms of marketing”), he seems to have found the perfect network: FX. EW talked with ”Rescue” cocreator-cowriter Leary about landing his dream job.

Your show is on basic cable, which means you can curse and get graphic with sex scenes. Is there anything FX has said no to?
If anything, they’ve asked us to push it further. Everything on the show is based on real stories from the FDNY guys that I know, and we want to keep it real.

Speaking of which, the July 28 episode featured everything from gay bashing to a firefighter getting a bikini wax. Ever worry about keeping it too real?
The jumping-off point was a real newspaper article that came out here in New York about a retired firefighter who said that 20 of the guys who died in 9/11 were gay. Then I overheard a conversation between a couple of firefighters about metrosexuals and what they have been talked into believing women want them to do. I thought it was very funny. And I thought it would be an interesting place for all those macho guys to go. What’s politically correct a lot of times is not funny.

What else can we look forward to this season?
A lot of laughs and a lot of action and a lot of hot sex. There’s the issue of his cousin’s widow and whether she’s going to start dating again — and a mutual attraction between my character and her. Plus later on, we’ll have a female firefighter assigned to our house.

And that means trouble?
Most of the women placed in the fire department here in New York never passed the physical test. And a fat guy or a short guy, or anybody not passing the test in a life-or-death job, leads to friction.

What reaction have you gotten from firefighters about the show?
For the most part we’ve gotten ”Hey, you got it right.” And you know you’re doing it right when you get one or two guys who say, ”Hey, you shouldn’t be showing that on TV.”

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