NEW YORK (AP) -- Ryan Phillippe admits to taking his work on ABC's "Secrets and Lies" home with him during filming.
"I lost 15-20 pounds over the course of shooting," said the 40-year-old actor in a recent interview, of taking the role of Ben Crawford.
In the drama that airs its season finale Sunday at 9 p.m. EDT, Phillippe plays a father of two in a troubled marriage who goes out for a jog one morning after a night of drinking and finds the body of a murdered neighbor boy. As a detective (played by Juliette Lewis) begins to piece together what happened, it's revealed that Ben is the father of the dead boy whose mother got pregnant after the two had a one-night stand. Ben also is the main suspect for most of the season.
"You're playing a character who is accused and threatened and whose life is falling apart," he said. "It's hard not to have some of that come home with you or to kind of affect your mood. If you're playing someone who's distraught and that's the state of mind that you're in as an actor for an entire day, that's really taxing."
He laughs about it now but says at the time it was intense.
"It was good, hard work with really great people but there was one week I worked 80 hours. Any job -- I don't care what you're doing -- that's gonna take its toll."
The show's 10-episode season appealed to him.
"I was sort of afraid of it," said Phillippe of the show's pilot script." I was afraid of not only the workload but the intensity of it and I guess the parts of it that relate to my life, like being a father and having to deal with the media scrutiny that my character does and sort of having to transpose that into my personal life and being somewhat famous for a while and what that does to your kids."
(Phillippe has two children with ex-wife Reese Witherspoon, 15-year-old Ava and Deacon, 11. He also has a 3-year-old daughter Kailana with ex-girlfriend Alexis Knapp.
Taking the part "was an option to try out TV," he said.
"I didn't feel like I was ready yet to sign up for a 7 or 8 year contract on a show primarily because I'm a dad and my daughter is in high school and you don't get to decide where some of those shows shoot and for how long. I'm not going to be absent over these last few years of her life," he explained.
Phillippe's done some television before (with an arc on the final season of "Damages" alongside Glenn Close and Rose Byrne.) He was also attached to star in the CBS cop drama "Golden Boy" in 2012 but dropped out before filming began. (That role ended up going to Theo James, of the "Divergent" franchise.) The show was cancelled after just one season.
He says that a show like "Secrets and Lies" is more his speed, and likes that there's "a beginning, middle and an end." The killer will be revealed in Sunday's episode.
"I didn't know the end when I started," he said. "They offered me the opportunity to have that information but I wanted to try to discover it as we went along. At some point I figured it out and I confirmed it with the producers."
If the show gets picked up for a second season, Lewis will resume her role as a detective but this time on a new case, with new characters.
Phillippe interests extend beyond showbiz. He's developing an app called Deedle (named after his son Deacon's nickname) that combines gaming with e-commerce. It should launch in early summer.
"It's been such an education. I feel like I went back to school," he laughed.
"That's what I love about this stage of my life. I like the idea of learning and trying different things. I love acting and I'll always continue to do it but there's so many other things I'm curious about."