NEW YORK — It’s just a few hours until the premiere party for “Six Degrees,” the new J.J. Abrams show about the intertwining lives of six strangers in Manhattan, but right now, the cast is still shooting a Halloween episode in the East Village. Erika Christensen runs by in a wig and full makeup, Zoe Saldana is trying to find her trailer, and there are grown men milling around in freakish costumes. But from the mayhem of Fourth Avenue surfaces a very serene Hope Davis.

The actress has every reason to be content these days. She’s happily married to actor Jon Patrick Walker, has two daughters, and just moved her family into a new house. She’s also landed, as she puts it, “a steady job for once.” Beloved by discerning film fans for her canny portrayals of substantive, difficult women in indies like “American Splendor” and “The Secret Lives of Dentists,” Davis is now on TV every Thursday (the second episode of “Six Degrees” airs tonight on ABC).

“I really loved this character,” says Davis, who signed on to play Laura, a young mother whose journalist husband has been killed in Iraq. “What she’s facing in her life is something I witnessed a close friend go through. I’ve always thought a lot about all those women who were left behind — whether through the war in Iraq or what happened on 9/11.”

Perhaps due to the subject matter of the series — which follows six people around the city as their fates intersect — Davis is seeing a lot of kismet. “The people involved in the show are all New York Village-y types and we all lived within a two-block radius of each other,” she says.

Though Davis is more experienced in film (she was on TV for “two seconds” in 2000’s short-lived “Deadline”), “this doesn’t feel any different to me. It feels like we are making an independent film, but we just keep going.” The only variation might be the back-breaking pace, which often requires her to learn a script in a mere two days.

But the contemplative Vassar grad doesn’t seem like one to shy from a challenge. If anything, Davis has earned everything she’s achieved. “I never got cast as the dumb bombshell,” she explains. “That’s just not my thing.”

This story first appeared in the September 28, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

And she won’t be one in her next role, as Truman Capote confidante Slim Keith in “Infamous,” which she filmed just 10 weeks after giving birth to her youngest, Mae. “It was so much fun to slip into that world,” she says. “The only bummer is that I was really pretty chunky, so I don’t look that great in the clothes.”

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