(CNN) — Malcolm-Jamal Warner is well aware that when some fans look at him — despite his many years in the business — they still see the son of a lawyer and a doctor who craved an original Gordon Gartrell shirt.
It’s been a long time since Warner portrayed Theodore Huxtable, the only son on “The Cosby Show” and the role that made him famous.
The actor is currently sinking his teeth into a more complicated character, starring opposite Kyra Sedgwick on the new ABC series “Ten Days in the Valley.”
Sedgwick plays Jane Sadler, a writer and producer for a police drama who finds herself embroiled in a mystery of her own when her young daughter goes missing.
Warner stars as Matt, the show’s head writer and Jane’s right-hand man.
He told CNN he initially read for a different character but felt drawn to Matt.
“I really like the different layers that there are to Matt,” Warner said. “I’d normally be cast as the nice guy, and it’s kind of cool playing someone who is a little more layered.”
Layers such as Matt being desperate to escape Jane’s shadow and have his own show.
With more than 30 years in Hollywood, Warner said he immediately understood the relationship between the two characters.
“I know the dynamic of when you are ‘the man sitting next to the man,’” he said chuckling. “Matt definitely knows he’s qualified to run his own show and because he’s working so closely with Jane and is doing so much of the work, there’s that feeling of being under appreciated.”
That feeling only heightens the drama, he said.
“People who feel under appreciated sometimes make desperate moves,” Warner added ominously.
The actor said he has major respect for TV writers who have to keep the creativity flowing episode after episode.
With so much good content out right now, network TV has been forced to push the envelope with new shows, he said.
So what character would Warner create for himself if he was actually a series writer?
“I would love to play just an all out bad guy who has fun being malicious,” he said. “It would be totally unexpected and that’s what would make it exciting. Plus, bad guys don’t see themselves as bad guys so you could have fun with that.”
Warner said his costar Sedgwick has a “Tom Hanks” quality in that “you can’t find anyone to say a bad word about her.”
“That’s the great thing when you work as part of a collaborative atmosphere, whether it be as part of a band or in the cast of a TV show,” he said. “All it takes is one person to bring their A-game and everyone else rises.”
Beyond acting, Warner’s other passion is music.
But that’s taken a bit of a backseat, he said, since he’s a new father with an infant daughter.
“Being a new parent, I have a lot of new material for the music,” he said. “It’s really awesome and right now. My daughter’s four months so I don’t have to tell her ‘no.’”
For now, Warner’s having a ball playing Matt and drawing viewers into the whodunit of “Ten Days in the Valley.”
“It’s too bad ABC already had a show called ‘Secrets and Lies,’” Warner said. “Because everyone on this show has a secret and some kind of lie they are telling.”