Gambling-addicted police officer Nick Cavanaugh is a multifaceted character – a hero with a dark past and some serious issues. Tim Daly, who plays him on ABC’s hostage thriller The Nine (Wednesdays, 10 p.m. ET), is no less complex. The New York City native is bouncing back with a hit after two failed series (2001’s The Fugitive and last year’s blinked-and-you-missed-it Eyes). And at 50, and after 24 years of marriage, he’s still just as charming as when he first made it big in the ’90s sitcom Wings. PEOPLE recently caught up with Daly for the scoop on The Nine, the secret to a long Hollywood match (“Don’t get divorced!”) and more.
When are we going to find out what happened in the bank?
Relatively quickly. What happened in the bank is secondary to the characters and what they’re going through. The meat and potatoes is the character drama, and the spice is this mystery.
How would you handle yourself in a hostage situation?
I’m right on the thin red line. I could either become a total coward and huddle in a corner, or I could be a hero. I’m not sure.
Do you stay cool under pressure?
For the most part I think I’m okay under pressure. Sometimes the things that irk me are very trivial. I’ll lose my cool because I can’t find my keys, which is embarrassing and stupid.
Does that happen often?
Ah … no. Actually, that was a really bad example ’cause I never lose my keys. [But] when I see people litter, it drives me insane. It drives me into a blind rage and I totally lose my cool.
Have you had confrontations over it?
I’ve almost gotten the sh– kicked out of me in New York several times. I’m, like, an idiot. If I were king, the punishment for littering would be death and there would be carnage in the streets. It would be horrible.
Outside of the litter problem, do you miss living in New York?
New York holds a very special place in my heart. But I make a lot of money, and I can’t afford to live in New York. I don’t know how people do it anymore. Every five blocks $100 just falls out of my pocket. I don’t know how it happens.
You turned 50 this year. How are you dealing with it?
You know, two years ago people would say, “How old are you?” I’d say “48” and they would say, “Wow, you look fantastic!” Now when people ask how old I am, and I say 50, they’re like, “You’re 50? You’re disgusting! Get away from me. Don’t touch my kids!” People ask me how I’m dealing with it [but] I’m fine. For some reason, people act as though I’ve told them I have some horrible venereal disease.
How do you stay looking so good?
I work out. I guess I’m sort of a genetic freak.
You’ve been married for 24 years (to actress Amy Von Nostrand). What is your secret to a successful marriage?
Anyone who’s been married this long knows it ain’t easy, but I would say the first rule of thumb is don’t get divorced! That’ll keep you together. A lot of hard work and tolerance and understanding. My wife and I spend a lot of time apart. Maybe that helps!