Being genuine

— Single men, listen up.

If you get tongue-tied picking up women, if your opening lines fall flat as pancakes, if women giggle when you aren't being funny, then heed the words of Donal Logue.

Who?

Donal Logue, a 34-year-old journeyman actor who has popped up in dozens of film roles, including those opposite Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Wesley Snipes and Tom Cruise. He's currently starring in the new romantic comedy, "The Tao of Steve."

Years ago, this guy stumbled over dating catnip.

He found himself staring at an incredibly gorgeous woman at a crowded Los Angeles bar. She had a cool car, fancy record deal and sexy tattoos.

"All the tough guys were one-lining her to death," he recalls. "I just said, 'I can't compete. So I'm just going to give up.' She was out of my league."

It was a defining moment for Logue.

"Because I was free, I could just be myself. I'd have conversations with people around her, make them laugh," he says. "I was the one guy in there who wasn't talking to her in a contrived way to get in her pants."

Then something very odd occurred.

"Boom! She just dug me," he says.

"Sometimes those one-liners from cocky, superarrogant guys work, but it's shallow," he says. "The people who really get under your skin are the people who don't have that fear of talking to you as a person."

It's a strategy that Logue has translated into celluloid for "The Tao of Steve." The title comes from a heady brew of popular culture and Asian philosophy. To be a Steve is good, like Steve McQueen or Steve Austin. If you're not a Steve, you're a Stew -- or dating roadkill.

Logue plays Dex, a slacker who woos women by quoting Heidegger and cooking mango mahi-mahi. Somehow, the ladies seem to swoon, despite the pounds he's accumulated since college, the endless games of Frisbee golf, the low-paying job and the morning bong hits.

That's because he's developed the three-step Tao of Steve. Here's how it works: If you want to be a Steve, never act desperate while on the prowl, make sure to do something excellent in front of your prey, and then immediately beat a hasty retreat.

According to Logue, this stuff really works.

"It happened a lot in my life," he says with a wistful smile. "The woman is thinking, 'All men hit on me! What's up with this guy?' It's the challenge."

Being genuine

But Logue doesn't need it -- not any more, anyway. He stalls a recent interview to make a phone call: He wants to check in with his longtime girlfriend and baby son in Los Angeles. Both were with him in New Mexico while the film was being shot, and the irony of a new daddy portraying a lusty playboy wasn't lost on Logue.

"It wasn't like, 'Hey, let's cruise chicks and see if it works!' It was, 'Oh, Jesus Christ! Go to sleep, please! The van is going to pick me up in three hours!"'

Director and co-writer Jenniphr Goodman cast several actors before she found her leading man. Once Logue walked in, it was over.

"There's something uniquely ineffable about Donal. It's just an alchemy of personality, intelligence, wit -- and something elusive," she says. "He has an alpha-male quality, a roguish quality."

His work on "The Tao of Steve" earned him the Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Performance at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Logue sees a strange link between his strategy for picking up women and his snowballing career, which includes roles in "The Patriot" with Gibson and the upcoming films, "Steal This Movie!" with Vincent D'Onofrio and "The Opportunists" with Christopher Walken and Cyndi Lauper.

"When you give up the desire to be a successful actor, if you really just go, 'I don't care, whatever God wants. I just want to have a good life,' it has to be genuine," he says.

"Once you really believe that, you're impenetrable. Because then you're happy being who you are. And if you really believe that ... you'll probably get a bunch of acting roles."

'Camaraderie of the circus'

Born in Canada to Irish parents, Logue lived in the desert town of Nogales, Ariz., during his teens. After attending Harvard, he found his way to Los Angeles, and began acting.

"What I was addicted to was: Fly me to another city with a hotel room and let me act in a movie. Sounds cool. Sign me up! It's like a riptide. Then you start pursuing it," he says.

"Then a couple years later, you're like, 'OK. My friend just graduated from law school. I'm 28 now. I can't go back. I'm too far from shore. I might as well keep swimming."'

Logue has been swimming at a remarkable pace. He's played a vampire who regrows an arm in "Blade," a crude heavy in "Reindeer Games" and a Scotch-loving pal on TV's "The Single Guy."

Perhaps his most notorious character was Jimmy McBride, a greasy-haired Boston cab driver who delivered stream-of-consciousness rants between MTV music videos in the early '90s.

One of his first movie roles was in "Sneakers" with Robert Redford. He has also appeared in "Little Women," "Jerry Maguire" and "Runaway Bride."

He's had lows, too. He endured a role in "3 Ninjas Knuckle Up" and was cut from "The Thin Red Line." Two TV series -- "Medicine Ball" and "Public Morals" -- were canceled. But Logue says that's OK.

"I like the camaraderie of the circus," he says. "The scene that's on the screen always is so much less important to me than the experience of doing something."




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