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While Laurie's meanspirited, scraggly, stray-cat appeal has its charms, some of that female fandom can be chalked up to House's coveted time slot last season behind TV's No. 1 show American Idol, a luxury the House cast and crew won't enjoy this year. If they wanted to overlook that fact, their lead actor reminds them of it constantly. "Hugh is uncomfortable with everything," says Leonard. "He'll dismiss the Emmys, the ratings."
In the spirit of the part, Laurie tried Vicodin once, deeming it "excellent stuff, though not to be tried at home." In fact, the actor says, he envies his character--a loner with a limp, whose primary comforts are soap operas and prescription painkillers. "House has complete freedom from anxiety over what the world thinks of him," Laurie says. "He has no need for public approval." Laurie, on the other hand, still has to get used to the roar of applause.