Paper magazine: Troy Garity interview (excerpted)

I meet the actor Troy Garity at one of his hangouts, a rustic family-run café at the foot of the Hollywood Hills -- the kind with floral pink wallpaper, wood beams and ancient men sitting alone at the counter. Thanks to Garity, the café has just stopped using Styrofoam cups. "I persuaded them to use paper cups instead," he says proudly, with the manager piping in: "He's greening the neighborhood!"

Garity may be a film actor, but his instinct for serving the greater good is unusually strong. Perhaps that's because activism is in his genes: His father is Tom Hayden (peace activist and social justice figurehead) and his mother is Jane Fonda, the quintessential Hollywood activista.

Just the other morning, Garity's alarm radio woke him up with news that his mom was in trouble, again. This time, for dropping the "C" bomb on national TV. Fonda and Vagina Monologues creator Eve Ensler were being interviewed about turning the New Orleans Superdome into a giant vulva. Upon hearing the news, Garity was, naturally, very proud. "My mom has given some great TV quotes," he says. "My favorite was, 'If the penis could do what the vagina does, they would stick it on a postage stamp.' Brilliant."

Garity is intense-looking, with a gaze that could crack cement. He's also a little shy and speaks in ponderous slow motion with pauses so heavy I'm scared I'll run out of tape. Maybe growing up so conscious, so socially-aware, forces you to think about every single word that comes out of your mouth? He tells me he's reading a book about how to re-program your neural pathways. "I'm re-wiring myself," he says. "I'm trying to develop an optimistic reflex to things."