Just give him a sporting chance to enjoy himself

Most actors consider themselves lucky to appear on one television series. Esai Morales can currently be seen in two: the long-running ABC drama “NYPD Blue” and the PBS drama “American Family.” In addition to acting, Morales is on the national board of the Screen Actors Guild. He shared some of his favorite ways to unwind:

Set sail

I’m a landlubber who’s becoming sea-friendly. I’m learning to sail on a 1960s-era 25-foot Cal [sailboat] at the marina [in Marina del Rey]. When you get that tilt on the sail and you can feel yourself being pulled by the wind that’s coming at you ... there’s nothing like that. It’s a great boat. One day my friends and I went by the Santa Monica Pier and there was a buoy full of sea lions. After we left, this one baby followed us for miles. It was amazing. I wanted to pet him so badly. He was our buddy ... now I’m missing my friend. We haven’t gone out too far yet. When it gets a little warmer, we’re going to sail to Catalina.

The sporting life

I play basketball at Venice Beach. I’m not a great player but I hustle a lot and I have a lot of heart for whatever game I play -- softball, basketball and a little golf. I played with Chris Lemmon at Hillcrest Country Club one time. That place is nice and old; the greens are nice and settled. Whatever I can do to just get out there and not think about the business, scripts, production and development.

Time to eat

I bought in to Koi and it’s still one of my favorite restaurants. I eat there all the time. It has the best sushi in town. I tell people I own the bathroom: The M is not for Men; it’s for Morales. El Compadres on Sunset is great. Go in there during the daytime and it becomes night. It has the velvet paintings on the wall and the mariachis that come to your table. It really has a nice environment. Check out happy hour. El Cholo on Western is great too. Also Zax, on San Vicente, which has amazing continental food.

Sporting life, take 2

Anytime, anywhere you have a softball, I have my gloves and my cleats in the car. I love softball and baseball. I play with friends. I used to throw it around at work and then I’d get all sweaty and makeup would hate me. Wardrobe would yell at me: “Esai, you can’t sweat! You’ve got to be on camera!” If I had it like George Clooney, there would be a basketball hoop around ... and a shower close by.


Cinema verite

I’ve been an Academy [of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] member for about 10 years now and I get all the academy screeners. Now the trouble is finding the time to watch them all. Ideally, the thing to do is to get a big screen and then have a special room in your house to view films. I don’t have that. [Laughs.] I’ll wait until the prices come down for the big screens. I mean, $10,000 for a screen? You could feed a lot of people with that. You could definitely feed a lot of actors with that.

-- Lisa Boone