The star of ER, Falling Skies, The Librarian franchise, and The Red Line talks about home on his California ranch away from work in Los Angeles.
At Home in Central California’s Santa Ynez Valley
I needed to be geographically close to Los Angeles just for practical purposes, but I didn’t want to raise my kids in Los Angeles. I was raised in Los Angeles. I’m an Angeleno, and I just wanted something a little bit more rural and smaller and slower than city life for my kids. Two hours was about as far as I could drive after work on a Friday night when I was doing ER and not fall asleep at the wheel. That kind of radius brought me up to the Santa Ynez Valley. ... Once I came down that Highway 154 hill and saw Lake Cachuma and the valley spread out before me, it looked just like Tuscany to me. Then I found this property that just spoke to me. I was way too young to buy — didn’t have enough money to buy it, and didn’t know how to maintain it. I think it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I love being here. Because I work all over the world and I travel so much, it’s really important for me to have a comfortable and anchoring home base. And to be able to come back here and recharge my battery and lock my gate and be with my family and enjoy the animals and the things this valley has to offer, the happier I am, and then I can leave again.
His 80-Acre Ranch
It’s pretty hilly, as this valley is. I keep it really natural. It’s very kid-centric. When you have kids that are 16, 13, and 4, and boys and girls, it means that the activities are as varied as their ages. We do a lot of outdoors stuff. ... It’s still a lot of animals. We’re not acquiring as many animals as we used to, but if I hear a good hard-luck case or a good sob story about an animal in need, I’m still a soft touch, and everybody knows it. ... And so we still have pigs and chickens and we have a rescue steer that my sister rehabilitated (she’s the vet for the Salinas Valley rodeo); we’ve had Calvin now for a couple of years. We’ve got horses and lots of dogs and cats. So there’s a menagerie — a lot of mouths to feed. I think the burden was being named Noah.
Riding and the Circle of Life
Rideable horses — we have two. And then we still have one of those American miniature horses too. But they’re getting old, the horses. We might need to acquire another. My son is now going to the same boarding school that I went to in Ojai, California, called Thatcher, which has a huge emphasis on horseback riding. He spent his entire freshman year on the back of a horse. So now I have someone to ride with, which is nice around here. I got an old police horse that’s my horse, and my daughter got a horse that’s a quarter horse named Brownie. Those are the two that we still have here. Ranch life is about life cycles. You see things get born, you care for them, and then you bury them. And it goes over and over again.
Photography: Courtesy Brittany Taylor Photography
From the November/December issue.