Before the holida break, I got to talk with several cast members from TNT’s returning cop show “Southland.” After TNT saved them from cancellation on NBC, they were eager to discuss and interest people in watching. Shawn Hatosy, who plays Det. Sammy Bryant, got on the phone to talk about the 10 new episodes airing this season.
In the first show back, Sammy and Nate (Kevin Alejandro) investigate gang killings. Nate even backs off the tough gangsters. Sammy comes home to more drama with Tammi (Emily Bergl) and that’s where the season begins. Here are some more spoilers and details from our interview with Shawn Hatosy.
Shawn Hatosy: I could talk all day about “Southland.” It doesn’t even feel like work, and I’m not kidding. Even shooting the show, we’re like, “This isn’t work. This is the dream job.”
Q: Anything can be a little like work though. What removes that from “Southland?”
SH: It’s just so much fun. We take pride in the fact that we go into the street and use these locations and we don’t change them. What you see on the show was already there. If there’s trash on the street, then it stays. We don’t take it away.
Q: Does that take care of a lot of the down time?
SH: There’s not much waiting. Also, we don’t do a lot of takes. So we have to come prepared. We have a protocol on our show where there’s no sides. You have to be off book when you show up. So once we block the scene out and they turn the camera on, it’s very much like live theater because we don’t go back and we don’t do very many takes.
Q: So when your partner says “Better a live p*ssy than a dead hero,” that’s not scripted?
SH: I think that was scripted. That was definitely scripted. They turn the cameras on and that is what it is. What I was saying is I find myself on this show standing in for myself while they light because it’s really the only chance that I’m going to get as the actor to run through my own little rehearsal because I know I’m not going to get 50 takes, or even five takes. So I’m standing in for myself going through the scene while they light because I have no idea how many times I’m going to get a crack at it.
Q: What was the fight with Tammi about? Should we remember that?
SH: That’s to be revealed so probably not so much. What it does do is they’re relationship, and it’s no secret, is a mess.
Q: I’ve been there, dude.
SH: I wish I could say that I haven’t been there but I’ve been there too. What it creates for Sammy is he needs support and he turns to Nate. This season becomes about relying on his partner for support at work and not at work.
Q: What interesting cases are coming up?
SH: I think that this season, more so than the prior seasons, we really go into the gang world. Episode 2 is called “Punching Water.” What it refers to is actually Sal makes a speech about punching water, no matter how hard you hit the water, you just can’t make a dent. It’s the same thing with these gangs. We sit here and we try and we’ve got all this, we’ve figured this out and we’ve figured out this sign, we can’t let these people talk but these senseless crimes continue to happen. If you think about it too much you might just give up. So many things that are just sad go on and Sammy takes it personally. He really is energized to try to make it right.
Q: Will the gang murder from episode 1 develop further in the season?
SH: No, I think that one’s open and shut. We handled that one although I can’t say for sure. We don’t tend to continue that many cases. There’s been a handful but not that one, no.
Q: 10 episodes is actually the longest season you’ve had by far.
SH: Almost by half.
Q: What sort of character arc does that give you?
SH: First of all, just knowing. Just the idea that there will be 10, meaning a beginning, a middle and an end, it’s just comforting. You say as the actor, well, I want to start here and I want to end here. The writers have done a beautiful job thus far of creating very interesting storylines, emotional which is good for Sammy because he’s a very emotional guy. It’s one of the things that I enjoy about him. He reacts and is impulsive so I think that I really am excited about this season of “Southland.” It’s a very raw show and the fans are just going to be blown away by it.
Q: Well, we’ve been with you since the NBC days.
SH: And their presence even in the second season was felt. There was a lot going on behind the scenes and it was a blessing in disguise that they cancelled us and didn’t air those six, because there was value in those six. TNT watched them and gave us life. I’m so f***ing happy to be associated with TNT.
Q: Are you just at the stage of an actor’s life where you play cops now?
SH: It sure feels like it, yeah. I don’t know what that says about me. There was a time when I was hitting 22 and 23 where I was still getting all thes high school roles. I kept saying to myself, “God, one day, I don’t want to be this kid anymore. I want to be a lawyer or a cop.” Now that’s just kind of the progression of things. There are great stories in crime. That’s always going to be that way.
Q: How was your experience on “Dexter?”
SH: I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think Boyd Fowler was a great character. I remember when they were explaining it to me, I was just like, “Seriously? You’re going to let me do this? This is great.” A character like that, there’s no real feeling. There’s a lot of freedom creatively when you play somebody as twisted as that. That was a lot of fun. People all the time come up to me on the street. I actually can’t believe how many people watc Dexter. More people than almost anything else I’ve done really.
Q: Is it cool to be on Dexter’s table?
SH: Yeah. I remember looking at him just as actors, I was naked and taped to a table while he was plunging a knife into my chest. There’s blood coming out and I just looked at him going, “This is quite the interesting type of employment that you have” because he does it weekly.
Q: Are you playing another cop in Street Kings 2?
SH I am playing another cop.
Q: What do you like about that character?
SH: That’s a lot of this back and forth between partners. Ray Liotta plays my partner. The approach from the director was not the same as “Southland.” On “Southland” we try to create this realistic and we just let the camera go where it goes. This was he had this kind of noir approach to it, very beautiful setups so for me it was totally like, “Whoa.” I haven’t seen it yet. I can’t wait.
Q: Does it have much connection to the first Street Kings?
SH: No. I don’t know because I haven’t seen the first one but from what I understand there’s none. I did something similar to that with Bad Lieutenant which was the Nic Cage version which they use the title I guess to sell but there’s no relation there. It’s just the title and the city. I think the concept is we could take Bad Lieutenant and the next one could be Stallone and put it in L.A. and there you go.
Q: Are you already looking forward to a fourth season of “Southland?”
SH: Gosh, I hope so. That would be great. The fact is, we’re doing 10 episodes and we’re going to do them to the best of our ability. So far we’re hitting home runs. Look, you just believe in what it is that you set out to do. If it works out, it works out. I think it will, but I’m naïve sometimes.
“Southland” premieres tomorrow at 10PM EST on TNT.