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behind the scenes

Willie Garson of Sex and the City and White Collar Tells 12 Odd Stories From 12 TV Roles

Willie Garson has played everyone from Lee Harvey Oswald to a demonic gargoyle, but if there's one recurring pattern in his 25-year career, it's that he's a sidekick for all seasons. The bald, bespectacled Garson has made a name for himself as Carrie Bradshaw's gay best friend Stanford Blatch on Sex and the City, Bobby Simone's weaselly foil Henry Coffield on NYPD Blue, and currently as Mozzie, the ingenious con-man confidante of Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) on USA's White Collar. He's also one of the few actors who's often asked to play multiple roles on the same show, as obsessive fans of The X-Files and Quantum Leap are well aware. With season three of White Collar now in play (episode three airs tonight at 9 p.m.), we asked Garson for his best audition and shooting stories from his extensive TV career. (His film career ain't too shabby, either, but that's a whole different article.) Here are his tales of being beaten to a pulp on-camera by Jimmy Smits, getting Nazi lessons from Steven Spielberg, and shooting Sex and the City with 10,000 unwitting extras. Plus, a story that involves catering and Family Ties that sounds uncannily like an episode of Party Down.

Photo: Jemal Countess / Getty Images