On the new CBS legal drama Reckless, set in Charleston, South Carolina, divorced father or two, Roy Rayder (Cam Gigandet), is the new City Attorney thanks to his influential former father-in-law (Gregory Harrison). When a disgraced cop (Georgina Haig) hires Yankee litigator Jamie Sawyer (Anna Wood), Jamie and Roy find themselves sparring in and out of the courtroom, as dark secrets threaten to tarnish the reputation of the town and its residents.
During this exclusive interview with Collider, actor Shawn Hatosy (who plays cocky and corrupt Detective Terry McCandless) talked about how he came to this show, why this project appealed to him, why he doesn’t see Terry McCandless as a villain, how his family has affected him, the journey his character will take this season, and what it’s been like to work with this cast. He also talked about just how life-changing being a part of Southland was, how it’s changed the way he prepares for projects now, and where he thinks his character would have gone next. Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
SHAWN HATOSY: My agent called me up and said, “They’re looking for a cross between Bradley Cooper and George Clooney,” and I was like, “Maybe Cam Gigandet is available.” So, they called him and he agreed to do it. And then, they said, “We have this role of this guy who’s a bit of a douchebag,” and I said, “Yeah, I could play that one.” No. They actually came to me, after I had just finished five years of Southland.
Did you debate about doing another cop show?
HATOSY: I was curious. Here was a character where I just didn’t know how they were going to write him into 13 episodes without it being one note. My fear was that I didn’t want to join something where I was just going to be this prop and this mustache twirling character. But they were like, “No, this is how we see it. He’s human. He comes from a real place.” Southland was such a great show. It was challenging. It was compelling. It was a life-changing project. I loved it. So, trying to compare it to anything is not going to be easy for me. But this was something that came along, that was so different. With Southland, 90% of my work was on the job and 10% of it was dealing with my personal life. With Reckless, it’s 10% on the job and 90% of it what’s going on in his bedroom. In that regard, it was something that was appealing.
How was the experience of doing Southland? Did it change you, both personally and professionally?
HATOSY: The one thing that I will never forget, going forward, from my experience on Southland is that, as an artist and as a professional, I prepare so different, now that I’ve had that experience. And I’ve taken the preparation that we learned on Southland to other things, and it’s just made me that much stronger.
Did you feel a sense of closure, at all, or were you disappointed that you never got a chance to wrap things up?
HATOSY: We knew. We all had a feeling that that was it. I like the way it ends, in a way, because we just took ourselves out. I really do like that. Yeah, it would have been nice to have something that wraps it up, but I don’t know if you could have encapsulated an ending. Not that Southland and Breaking Bad are the same type of show, but that show spent however many years building to that. They knew. Southland was a show that found new life and changed, and the show formed in front of the audience’s eyes.
HATOSY: Yeah. Ben was trying to decide what decisions to make, and ultimately those decisions led him to that darker side. Now, there’s a villain for you. But the interesting thing about Ben is that, even though he was doing questionable things, he was still jumping the ranks and getting accolades and winning awards. I like that about him. I see that as a nice parallel to some people that don’t deserve success, but still get it. You see people that are just rising and you go, “Why do good things happen to such bad people?” But with Sammy, I feel want he wanted out of police work was clear. He wanted to teach these younger patrol officers. He did it with Ben and he failed. I think he would go back and try, and ultimately get to where Cooper was, without the drug addiction, when we first met him, in the first season. I think that’s Sammy’s trajectory.
Are you worried about how people will react to this character, and to you because you play this character?
HATOSY: Yes, because he’s such a jerk. But I did a lot of research on villains, and guys who start behaving nefariously didn’t start out as bad people. My research indicates that all of these people were scorned and hurt by love. Darth Vader didn’t start off as a bad guy. He was a good guy. Only when Natalie Portman betrayed him, did he go to the dark side. Wile E. Coyote is a coyote with nothing but good intentions. But Road Runner comes along and is unattainable, he wants it and can’t get it, and thus he becomes a villain that is impossible to be around. Bill O’Reilly is a villain that is so in love with himself and the sound of his voice that he’s literally become the personification of evil. I really do believe that Terry, my character, is a good ol’ boy, but once Lee Anne Marcus (Georgina Haig) came along and started prancing around and telling him what to do, that’s when he drank the Kool-Aid and he’s never been the same since. You’ll see the case develop and you know what some of the parameters of the case are, but she is in complete control of him.
HATOSY: It’s all speculatory. I don’t think we really go into a great deal of backstory. You do meet his father. He lives with his father, and his father is pretty messed up. It gives you a little glimpse into Terry because he cares for him, but the system they use for showing their love is pretty corrupt and gross. Once you get a glimpse into how they interact and you see that maybe there was some abuse, it lends itself to seeing how the path that Terry took became that path. He’s a wild character. What gave Dana [Stevens] the idea for the show is the fact that people make these reckless decisions, and at what cost.
What’s interesting is that, even with all of these bad things that he’s doing, he still solves crimes and closes cases.
HATOSY: And he’s good at it. He was a military guy, and they have a mentality where it’s hard to step away from work and not have that power. That’s his biggest problem. He can’t just be Citizen Joe. He’s gotta be the cop guy.
When you play a character like this, do you worry about him being likeable, at all?
HATOSY: I think he’s likeable. I think people will like him, in a way where you’re like, “What a jerk!” You’ll like not liking him. These types of guys don’t know that they’re bad. That’s how you approach a villain. If it comes from a real place, it gives you the leverage to do really horrible things. But then, you see his relationship with his dad, or you see that he really loves Lee Anne, even though it’s fucked up, and it gives you a lot of room to explore.
So, is it less of a power trip then, and more of him actually thinking that he’s doing the right thing?
There are a lot of cop shows and a lot of lawyer shows, but this is a blend of the two. There’s also the case-of-the-week mixed with a serialized story. What would you tell people who are wondering if this show would appeal to them?
HATOSY: The show is a serialized legal procedural that is intensely character-driven. People that enjoy a case-of-the-week narrative will be satisfied, but the real genetic make-up of our show is the complex romantic relationships that occur, in and out of the courtroom.
Will the investigation into Terry McCandless continue to build, throughout the season?
HATOSY: Yes, it is a throughline. It’s one of Terry’s stories, and that’s a pretty wild ride that involves other members of the police department. It’s dangerous and it opens up a whole other world that we get a glimpse of. It’s cool. It’s entertaining. It’s hard to predict what people will like, but you can’t really worry about that. But, Dana knew exactly what kind of show she wanted to make. It’s confident and it stands on its own. It does blend a lot of different things, but it doesn’t feel forced.
How has this cast been to work with, especially when you have so many intense moments together?
HATOSY: It was a really good working experience. It’s almost like we’re on different shows. They’re in the courtroom a lot, and I spend some time in the courtroom, but that’s more exposition because we’re telling that court case. Most of my scenes are with Lee Anne, although Preston (Adam Rodriguez) and Terry have a pretty good arc together. I also worked a bit with Michael Gladis. We worked really well together. It’s nice doing a show on location, which is rare. It almost felt like a movie. You just pack up and get out there, and you’re in this new city, which is also a character on the show, and you’re exploring it together. It’s a perfect place to start new friendships.
Are you able to just turn it on and off, to do some of the darker moments?
HATOSY: Of course. You just approach it from a real place. He justifies it and, in the end, it’s a selfish thing, but he doesn’t realize that it’s selfish. It’s play. That stuff is actually fun. And it’s a great cast of professionals. Terry has been fun to play, thus far.
Does he get more and more out of control, or will he figure out how to contain it?
HATOSY: As his job becomes a casualty of his difficulties and what’s going on in his life, and he’s faced with perhaps not having it, he can’t see himself not being a cop. He needs that badge to maneuver through life, so he’s gotta make some decisions.
Reckless airs on Sunday nights on CBS.