Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James Interview TERRIERS

     September 7, 2010

Terriers is a comedic, edgy, original new FX series that centers on Hank Dolworth (Donal Logue), an ex-cop who partners with his best friend Britt Pollack (Michael Raymond-James) in an unlicensed private investigation business. The 13 episodes from creator/executive producer Ted Griffin (Ocean’s 11), and executive producers Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and Tim Minear (Angel), will follow the two men as they solve cases for new clients on a weekly basis, while also promising a bigger storyline that will run throughout.

During a recent interview, co-stars Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James talked about developing their off-screen friendship, which is reflected in their on screen chemistry, shooting in San Diego and having the artistic freedom of doing a cable series. Check out what they had to say after the jump:

Question: Donal and Michael, how did you go about establishing the relationship between your characters?

Donal: I worked on a show called Life and Michael did an episode. It was one of those all-night, until six in the morning things where, by the end of it, it was like, “I’ve met a new best friend for life.”

Michael: Donal was walking around carrying a copy of Kerouac’s Big Sur.

Donal: We started talking about Jack Kerouac, and we became good friends, over the course of that night. When I went in to meet Ted [Griffin], Shawn [Ryan] and Craig Brewer, who directed the pilot, and was lucky enough to be asked to be a part of this thing, I became part of the casting sessions for the show. The really tricky thing was who was going to be Britt. I remember going in for the first set of auditions with a bunch of guys sitting around waiting to go in, and I saw Michael and we gave each other a hug, and you could see the deflation. It was, “Oh, great, they’re best fuckin’ friends. I told you this crap would happen.” When Michael and I did the show, we ended up renting a house together in San Diego, so it was on 24/7, the whole time. I actually think that our friendship and just the amount of work we did when we weren’t working on the show really helped the endeavor we had. It really made it a lot better.

Michael: It also helped that we shared an addiction to carne asada burritos.

How was it to shoot in San Diego?

Donal: San Diego was fantastic. I think it was such a great idea to go down there because there’s something about San Diego that is quite different than Los Angeles, and something specifically about Ocean Beach’s community that we shot in. It’s still this working-class enclave that’s right on the beach, that really fought hard against having big, corporate condo development. It really gave us this foothold to create this universe in.

Donal, you’ve been known for comedy before this, but this show is dramatic with light moments. What pushed you in that direction, in your career?

Donal: Two things vibrated towards each other. To be honest, when you’re young and you watch The Deer Hunter for the first time, that’s when you’re like, “That’s what I want to do.” But then, what happens is that, all of a sudden, you have some success in comedy. I ended up doing these weird MTV shorts with my friend improvising this cab driver. But, you always want to do everything. I’ve been lucky enough to go back and forth. There was something about that form of comedy that’s just difficult. It never really felt like you could just fully commit to all the colors that you carry with you.

I did a pilot for HBO, called One Percent, that they didn’t end up picking up, but it was a pretty intense and dramatic piece. There was just something about it that felt really right, at that time in life, and I feel more comfortable in this milieu. I love doing comedy. I think our show is quite funny, in a lot of ways, but I love not feeling this hydraulic pressure that you have to create this comic moment within every scene. You can just play it as it is.

I feel quite blessed that I can actually balance between the two worlds, and that I can do Grounded for Life and then Zodiac, because a lot of really talented actors I know end up getting set in a certain category and no one will ever buy that they can exist outside that category, even though you know full well that they can. It’s just difficult for people to be able to cross those fences, so I feel pretty blessed that I’ve been able to.

Donal and Michael, how do you feel about working on cable and having some more freedom with the content of the show?

Donal: I’m actually friends with Michael Chiklis and Denis Leary, and it is a little bit of a feather in my cap to be able to be handed the acting reins in one of these shows. I just personally feel like the best writing for actors exists in cable television. I’m a huge fan of things like The Wire and The Shield. Every week on this, we made a 650- to 700-page indie movie, over the course of five months. It was a thrilling adventure.

I’ve known John Landgraf for years, and I’ve always intended to try to do something with him and FX, and then this came along. I just feel like it’s more about the project. I felt like Life was a great show. It was really well-written, but I do feel like there’s a certain hand-cuffing that happens on network television that you don’t have artistically on cable.

Michael: When I read the script, I would have fought to be on the show, if it was on PBS. It didn’t matter. It was just that this is a story that I wanted to be a part of.

Would it be fair to say that Hank is somebody who has lost everything, and Britt is somebody who doesn’t seem to have had anything?

Donal: I love being this guy, at this stage in his life. I’m almost 45, and there were a lot of things I could relate to in this character. He’s reached his point. He blew a lot of good things in his life, like his reputation and his marriage. There’s a certain kind of existential freedom that comes to people who realize that all the things that they hold onto and that they think define them, once they’re gone, there’s this new freedom to determine the way you’re going to live your life. That’s the point at which we meet these guys, and there’s actually a big sense of optimism in that. I meet this kindred person who’s the younger, beaten-up version of Hank, who joins me and is a willing participant in this adventure. We think of it in terms of Butch and Sundance, and they protect the town they live in.

Michael: It’s a prolonged adolescence.

TERRIERS premieres on FX on September 8th. You can read a review of the first few episodes here.