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posted: 8/27/2012 5:30 AM

Local actors talk about playing Illinois power brokers

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Some of the Chicago-area actors featured in the Starz series "Boss" opine about their characters:

James Vincent Meredith: Alderman William Ross

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Meredith plays the powerful City Council member -- head of the Black Caucus and the Operations Committee -- and nemesis of Mayor Tom Kane (Kelsey Grammer). "He's a great reader of other human beings," says the Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member of his character, whom he describes as a composite of Chicago power brokers.

"Looking at a lot of these guys you realize that no one is clean. Everyone has a little stink on them, and it's the people who are able to negotiate that who are most successful and the ones who have been around for so long ... you may not want to introduce them to your daughter or mother, but you'll have to go through them to get things done."

Amy Morton: state Sen. Catherine Walsh

Morton plays a longtime state senator and aspiring governor who has failed in her three previous attempts to win the state's top job. "She's steeped in Illinois politics, and she's incredibly smart," said Morton, who describes her character as an ambitious woman with secrets up her sleeve. "This is her fourth and final run and she really wants it."

John Hoogenakker: Cook County State's Attorney Jeff Doyle

Like his "Boss" colleagues, Hoogenakker doesn't base his performance on one particular politician. "He's a bit of a brawler in sheep's clothing," he says of Doyle, a pious man who takes communion daily yet is capable of unleashing a blistering string of profanities. "I think he (Doyle) is rough around the edges, more like (current Chicago Mayor Rahm) Emanuel."

Francis Guinan: Gov. McCall Cullen

Guinan plays the lame-duck Illinois governor who lost his primary race to state Treasurer Ben Zajac (Jeff Hephner). Although he has "some sort of moral compass, he's far too cynical not to look out for himself," Guinan said, adding that Cullen could experience the same fate as Illinois' real-life former governors.

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