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‘Ugly Betty’ preview: The boys are coming to blows

February 5, 2009 | 12:45 pm

Conner_2 By now, it’s pretty clear that there’s a fistfight brewing between Connor Owens, the strapping Australian chief financial officer of Meade Publications, and Daniel Meade, his long-time rival and fiancée thief.

The actor who plays Connor (Grant Bowler, whom some might remember as the ill-fated freighter captain from the previous season of “Lost”) says it’s all coming to a head tonight. While hipster neighbor Jamie comes back into Betty’s life, Connor will find out whom Molly, the former fiancée, ditched him for. And it won’t be pretty.

Fans needn’t fret that this might mean the end of Wilhelmina’s most recent paramour — even Bowler doesn’t know his fate just yet.

What can you tell us about tonight’s episode?

There’s a bit of fire and brimstone, a few sparks and a lot of mounting tension with Daniel that starts to boil over.

Meaning . . .
There’s a showdown in Little China between Connor and Daniel, which Daniel’s not quite aware of until it happens. So his chickens come home to roost, that boy! Naughty boy. Boxing will be involved. I actually box, so I had a ball shooting it. I got to go to work and do my hobby at the same time.

Oh, Daniel won’t stand a chance!
Eric Mabius, who plays Daniel, was fantastic. It’s more to do with telling the story and a bit of comedy than shooting “Rocky 6,” but it was a lot of fun to kick his butt.

Whom do you think Connor truly prefers? Molly or Willy?
I think definitely Wilhelmina. He’s just wrestling with that alpha male inability to let go. He’s allowed to move on, but she’s not. It doesn’t make any sense, but we all feel that a bit.

True. It’s not like Connor and Willy waited long to get it on, either.
Well, the fact that Daniel and Molly hooked up six and a half minutes after Connor and her had broken up doesn’t help matters. Since Daniel and Conner are supposed to have been friends for years and years, there’s the duplicity and secrecy that also feeds into Connor’s anger.

But their past was also a bit messy, right?
Yes, there’s always been a half-hero worship, half-resentment between Daniel and Connor. Underneath of all that camaraderie, they’re different animals. They like each other, but there’s a lot of competition going on there.

Lots of male issues at hand then . . .
Yeah, and I think that’s a really good thing. I’ve treasured it because it’s one of the few elements that “Ugly Betty” hasn’t really had before, that male energy. Where Daniel and Connor come up against each other is very much a new dynamic for the show. So is the Connor-Wilhelmina love story, which is the show’s first kind of grown-up adult, conscious, aware version of falling in love.

Had you been watching the show before you got cast?
I’ve always loved the series. I’ve loved it since the pilot. “Ugly Betty” is one of the few shows that I watched from pilot onwards and never drifted away. It just walks this beautiful line between really lovely touching human drama and the broadest farcical comedy. It’s amazing how it does that.

Tell us one fun behind-the-scenes fact.

Connor was actually supposed to be American. I auditioned, tested and started shooting as an American. But then I was asked to shoot my first episode as both an American and as an Australian and Australian won out. Sexier, I guess, right?

How much longer will we be seeing Connor?
I’ve shot a few more episodes, but his fate is open as far as I know. He’s not going away, but I don’t know if he’s coming back either. We’ll all just have to wait and see.

— Denise Martin

Photo: Grant Bowler as Connor Owens on "Ugly Betty." Credit: ABC