When she co-starred on "Homicide: Life on the Streets," she held her own with a crew of cops. On "Rescue Me," she was the gutsy paramour among a crew of macho firemen.
And in her current role on USA's "Necessary Roughness" she plays the psychotherapist to a pro football team who clearly calls the plays.
But Thorne admits it's all an act. "The reason I get so nervous for talk shows is because I get nervous being myself," she said.
"I worry that I'm not interesting enough or clever enough and that goes way back to when I was younger and I figured out pretty early in high school that to be able to be somebody else and to rely on someone else's lines and character's journey -- then I got to be interesting and complex," she said.
"And (it) also releases a lot of anxiety and emotions and things that could fill my head and obsess on ... But that feeling of being in front of the camera or in front of an audience and telling a story releases all of that, that creative stuff. So I think those are the two main reasons why I act."
She was just having a good time when she first began acting. "But the good time was based on being able to release because of whatever was going on at home -- with parents divorcing or whatever.
"To rely on someone else's story was really where I was the most comfortable and still am."
In spite of her laudatory work, Thorne has been close to quitting twice -- and each time fate intervened in a mysterious way.
"Those first years in New York, '91 through '93, were the hardest and loneliest and hungriest -- I was so hungry all the time," she said.
Surviving on one meal a day of McDonald's and french fries, she remembers, "I was also very lonely and not able to see far enough in the future whether or not it was worth it.
"My mother is a very gifted astrologer and at the time I called her and said, 'I've made a terrible mistake. And I think I'd better come back to Boston, go back to school and study what you told me to study, psychology.'
"My mother did my chart and she came back and said, 'As much as I want you to come home, if you can hold on until the end of '94 I see everything turning 180.'"
In the span of one week Thorne managed to capture the lead in an independent film, obtain an agent (who still represents her) and wangle roles in two plays.
Thorne claims she doesn't share the gift, though she admits she's intuitive and often perceptive.
The other event that shook up her life was the death of her maternal grandfather, whom she affectionately calls Papi.
She was co-starring in a play in La Jolla, Calif., when she got the news. "He was one of the only men in my life at that point," she said.
"So when he died it was the first death I'd experienced ever. So it hit me really hard I went home and went to the funeral.
"The people at the play were like, 'You've got 24 hours. You'd better come back. You don't have an understudy.'
"I was trying to calm myself down and figure out how I was going to live without Papi and I had a very intense vision of him telling me to basically pull my boot straps up and stop feeling sorry," she said.
"It was like he was speaking to me: Drop the pity party.
"And that is what I bounce to when I get really, really nervous, I bounce to my Papi and imagine him holding my hand in regards to acting and realizing that anything is possible."
Thorne and her savvy psychiatrist returns with new episodes Wednesday to USA.
More Life Headlines
Answers to homeschooling questions Today in history 15 trails you can enjoy in a wheelchair Wait wait — can you say that on air? There’s an internal debate on cursing at NPR Breasts made for babies, so chill out When it comes to sports, foster healthy competition for kids This week’s best-sellers from Publishers Weekly It’s prime time for stargazing
Our to-do list full of ideas for your weekend
Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.