With his boyish face and slapstick flair, Donald Faison has been stealing scenes on screens big (Clueless) and small (Felicity, Scrubs) for years. Now he’s charming audiences in Something New, a romantic comedy about a black woman (Sanaa Lathan) who falls for a white guy (Simon Baker). The 31-year-old New York native and father of four (twins Kaya and Dade, 7, and son Kobe, 4, with ex-wife Lisa, and son Sean, 9, from a previous relationship) told PEOPLE.com about what’s really going on with pal Zach Braff and Mandy Moore – and his own romantic secret.
Have you ever had an interracial relationship?
Yes, I have. I don’t think there’s a problem with dating somebody outside of your race, as long as you’re doing it because you want to be with that person. Everybody tells you what you should do when you’re dating, but if you follow your heart, it usually works out.
Are you dating anyone now?
I’ll say that there’s somebody in my life.
I hear you had a crush on Sanaa Lathan before you started filming. Were you nervous about working with her?
Not really. There’s something about being on set – it’s like, “I’m an actor, too. I’m not really a fan right now, we’re here to do a scene together.” But if I saw her at a club or on the street, what do you say? “Uh, can I buy you a drink?”
Also, you play her brother, not her love interest.
I should have had Simon Baker’s role in the movie – put on prosthetics and whiteface. Joking!
Your character is a bit of a player. Could you relate?
Everybody has their playing days, but that’s far from how I was.
Ever wanted to play a romantic lead or even a villain?
As long as it’s a good role and I can get into the script. I don’t want to play a bad guy in some really (awful) movie. I don’t want to be the romantic lead in some poo poo.
You have such great chemistry with the Scrubs cast. Did that develop over the years?
I think it was immediate. Zach (Braff) and I knew right away that we were going to get along. It was like, “Okay, we have the same sense of humor, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Do you hang out off set?
Yeah, in fact, some tabloid said he was engaged to Mandy Moore, so yesterday I did a radio tour and a lot of these cats were asking me, “Is it true?” I was like, “No” – and then I called him. He was like, “Dude! Do I not say you’re my best friend? Don’t you think I would have told you?” I was like, “Aw, man, I’m sorry.”
Speaking of high-profile couples, you were in Waiting to Exhale with Whitney Houston. Have you seen Being Bobby Brown?
It’s one of the best shows on television, in my opinion. Bobby Brown putting Preparation H under his eyes in the middle of the store – that was one of the funniest things I had ever seen in my life. And Whitney Houston’s “Hell to the no”? Oh my goodness!
Something New looks like a great date movie. What’s the most romantic thing you’ve done for Valentine’s Day?
I wrote a song for someone.
How did she react when you sang it to her?
I don’t know, I haven’t done it yet!