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Paul Adelstein stars as Dr. Cooper Freedman on ABC’s 'Private Practice.'

Practice Makes Perfect

by Jessica Radloff | CS magazine | December 27, 2011

For 42-year-old Lincoln Park native Paul Adelstein, Chicago is as much a part of him as his love of acting and music. The trained thespian from New Crime Productions (John Cusack’s theater company), who also studied extensively at Steppenwolf, didn’t actually depart permanently for Los Angeles until 2004. Of course, as fans of Prison Break remember, he then turned right back around to the Land of Lincoln to play Agent Kellerman on the hit Fox show. Now starring as the lovable “Coop” on ABC’s Private Practice, Adelstein is returning to his roots with his band Doris and their new album, All The Details. The dashing Adelstein sat down with CS to talk life on the set and in the recording studio, and his most important role yet: family man.

Talk about foreshadowing—Kate Walsh, your co-star on Private Practice, actually got you a job waiting tables in Chicago. I love Kate—she’s the greatest. I’ve known her for almost 20 years. She got me a job at Café Du Midi for a year after I got fired from Lettuce Entertain You’s Tucci Milan. Kate moved to New York and I got fired, again.

Who was the better waiter? We were both pretty bad. I was really bad.

And who’s the better actor? [Laughs.] Her, of course! Just look at the call sheet—her name is first, which means I have to say she’s best.

I love as we’re doing this interview, you’re playing the guitar while wearing a stethoscope around your neck. Paul Adelstein: The Singing Doctor! What are the similarities between you and Cooper? I can be goofy like him, as well as naïve and stubborn. I don’t think I’m quite as neurotic. I’m hopefully ahead of his curve in terms of when he started growing up, but we have similar socioeconomic backgrounds. We’re both Jewish kids from the Midwest.

Aside from the episode where you played the piano, fans have no idea how musically talented you are. I grew up in a house where there was always music. I started taking lessons formally when I was 9 or 10. I couldn’t read music very well, but I had a good ear. Things really took off in high school when I began writing music and started a band with my friends. That band eventually became Kid Million, and David Singer and the Sweet Science. I also minored in music at Bowdoin.

Your album All the Details is coming out next month. You’ll eventually be touring. What can fans expect? I promise there will be a stop in Chicago. It’s definitely a singer/songwriter rock record. Somebody said it’s like Paul Simon, Elton John and Randy Newman all bumped into each other in temple.

Between the show, recording the album, raising a family [Adelstein has a 20-month-old daughter with actress wife Liza Weil], how do you find time for everything? It helps I’m on an ensemble show. We work long hours, but there’s a sharing of duties. I have a little studio that I play in at home.