Common Law Premieres on USA Network 5/11/ at 10/9C TONIGHT! Podcast!
USA Network’s latest show to premiere is Common Law which is about two cops with a problem – each other. Despite their differences, they are terrific detectives. When things come to a head during their “seven-year itch” as partners, their captain forces them into couples’ therapy to save their “work marriage.”
Despite being an odd couple, Travis Marks (Michael Ealy) and Wes Mitchell (Warren Kole) are incredible at what they love most – enforcing the law – and have a seven-year track record as the LAPD’s best detectives in the Robbery-Homicide Division. As their constant bickering begins to have a major impact on their work, their new-age captain (Jack McGee) sends them to couples’ therapy to bring back the flame in their relationship. Tough-as-nails therapist Dr. Ryan (Sonya Walger) is brought in to help them understand and resolve their conflicts and confront their demons in order to enhance their ability to work together solving crimes.
I had the opportunity to interview Michael Ealy (The Good Wife, Think Like a Man) but unfortunately my recorder died about 18 minutes into the interview which was one hour long. Given that 18 minutes of audio is infinitely more interesting than reading a 60 minute transcript, I am giving you the 18 minute interview and the rest of the interview in transcript format.
Sammi Turano: I’m doing wonderful, thak you. My question for you is what kind of research went into doing this role initially? Did you talk to any cops or therapists or people that have been doing couple’s therapy?
Michael Ealy: Okay, we worked, we had a consultant with an LAPD detective, 25 years as a detective, who gave us all kinds of hell, and you know, insight and he’s very helpful and helping us understand the difference between what a detective does and what a police officer does.
And also the fun part of the research though was going back into the archives and watching all the great funny top comedies, action comedies, party comedies, from Trading Places, to Stir Crazy to Lethal Weapon to Bad Boyz, to 48 Hours. It was non-couple’s. That was probably the most fun that I had in terms of research because that enabled me to grasp the funny. It enabled me to grasp the rhythm of funny and how you’ve got to keep the tempo up as an actor. You cannot get sluggish with the dialogue, because that’s not comedy.
Yes, and as far as therapy is concerned I went in like a blank sheet of paper. I had no knowledge of therapy. I had my own hang-ups with therapy and I used that as like Travis’s hang-ups with therapy.
Sammi Turano: Wonderful. My other question for you is real quick. If you can pair the both of you to two characters out there that are frenemies, who would it be and why?
Michael Ealy: What was that question again? Sorry.
Sammi Turano: If you were to compare the both of you to two characters out there, Travis and Wes, who would they be?
Michael Ealy: Two characters, like on another show or like I don’t understand…
Sammi Turano: Yes, (unintelligible) another show like a couple out there, so to speak, that have problems and are frenemies and fighting.
Michael Ealy: Oh.
Sammi Turano: Hello?
Michael Ealy: Yes, I’m here. It’s kind of hard because they’re both, you know, Travis and Wes are both detectives. So I don’t know, to be honest with you. I guess that’s something that’s actually kind of good, I guess, is that there, to my knowledge, there is no other Travis and Wes out there. I can’t think of one.
Sammi Turano: Well I just wanted to thank you so much for entertaining us and good luck with everything.
Michael Ealy: I appreciate it. Thank you.
Operator: And our next question comes from the line of Liz Henderson, with Nice Girls TV. Please go ahead.
Liz Henderson: Hello, Michael. Thank for taking some time with us today. I appreciate it.
Michael Ealy: Liz. How are you doing?
Liz Henderson: I’m good. I’m good. You know, USA has a track record producing some great television, great casting. Are you excited about that or how do you feel about being a part of all that?
Michael Ealy: You know, when you sign on to a USA show I think you know you’re going to be a part of a certain pedigree that has established itself as the Number 1 cable network. So I wouldn’t say there’s pressure, but you definitely feel like you don’t want to be the one show that doesn’t (unintelligible) up to (unintelligible) expectations, you know what I mean? But I think we’ve got a good one here. I think we’ll fit right in and I think ultimately the fans of USA will be very happy.
Liz Henderson: Well I agree with you 100% after watching the pilot episode. After the first scene I was sold.
Michael Ealy: Where are you…Oh, that’s great.
Liz Henderson: (Unintelligible)…I totally enjoyed it completely. I do want to know how much of Michael Ealy is Travis or vice versa?
Michael Ealy: Probably more. You know, Travis’s silly side is definitely me. And that’s the thing that I have not shared with the world, yet. You know, my family can’t wait to see Common Law because they’re like, “Okay. This looks like Michael. Okay, finally. This looks like…” Because I’m a practical joker in my family. I just am. And I am very silly around my family. You know, but they’re very excited to see that side of me and they’re excited so see that side of me in this show.
Liz Henderson: You looked very comfortable in the part so that’s why I wondered about it. And I’ll be looking forward to hearing later on down the line about some of the practical jokes on set.
Michael Ealy: I appreciate it. Thank you. If I look comfortable, it’s because that was my intent. That was my intent, you know what I mean? I always try, like I model this character after…I made him a mix of Axel Foley and John McClain. And when you watch Eddie Murphy and Axel Foley, he’s in control at all times. Like he’s just laid back and cool and comfortable in his own skin, and I really tried to bring that to the character of Travis. So I’m glad you saw it. I’m glad you liked it. And I think you’d really love this first season. I do.
Liz Henderson: Okay. Thanks, Michael.
Michael Ealy: Thank you, Liz. I appreciate it.
Operator: And our next question comes from Stevie Wilson with LA-Story.com. Please proceed with your question.
Stevie Wilson: Hello, Michael. How are you doing today?
Michael Ealy: I’m well Stevie and you?
Stevie Wilson: I’m doing well. It’s nice weather here in Los Angeles.
Michael Ealy: It is.
Stevie Wilson: So when you come into the pilot and the first thing that you see is the two of you are sitting there and you are both kind of uncomfortable, although Warren seems to be much more uncomfortable to be in that space. And you volunteered to share and you know that you two were detectives. You’re not in a partnership, but everybody else is sitting there thinking that you guys are together.
Michael Ealy: Yes.
Stevie Wilson: Where do you guys go from there?
Michael Ealy: Yes, that’s a good one. You know, I think from the very first scene (we’ve) established that these two guys are drastically different. But, you know, it’s a big roller coaster from there. I mean to really answer your question, you know, the therapy sequences, and I didn’t know this when you shot the pilot, but the therapy sequences, and I learned this while we shot it the first week, it really does become the great chorus of the show.
And ultimately, you know, it’s one big roller coaster for these guys and it’s therapy begins to affect the way in which they solve cases. And that just becomes a whole different monster. And I can’t wait for people to really see those episodes, you know? And the way that Travis is in that first scene is, no, he doesn’t want to be there, but the therapist is hot, and that’s all he needs to put a smile on his face. You can’t go home with him. You’ve got a hot therapist.
Stevie Wilson: Why does it kind of…
Michael Ealy:This isn’t going to be so bad.
Stevie Wilson: It almost sounds like you.
Michael Ealy: I mean, you know, listen I must say, you know, as I said before, this show has opened me up to the possibly of couple’s counseling, you know, at some point down the line if I ever need it. But, you know, it wouldn’t hurt to have a hot therapist. It makes the hours go by a lot quicker.
Stevie Wilson: It’s just so fascinating to watch this and see from the diverse characters you’ve played before and see this and see you just kind of roll with it so easily.
Michael Ealy: Oh, thank you so much. I really, really genuinely appreciate that, because nobody saw it coming. And I think that is partially my fault because I haven’t done much comedy. I’ve done so much drama. And yes, but this is more me.
Stevie Wilson: So would that all become more reflective of who you are? Well obviously the series is pretty much shot.
Michael Ealy: Yes. Would it become more reflective of who I am?
Stevie Wilson: Yes.
Michael Ealy: What I can tell you is Travis is pretty consistent. He’s pretty consistent. At a certain point we just had, like when you live in this character for 15 hours a day, 5 days a week, you know, the structure starts to come naturally. It really does. It just starts to come naturally and that was the joy of shooting this show, was I never really got out of character. So being consistent was somewhat easy. And I just, man, you have made my day. Thank you so much and I can’t wait for you to see other episodes. I really do.
Stevie Wilson: You’re welcome. I’m just excited to see this because this another one of these great…I’m a huge fan. I’ve covered a lot of USA shows and this is one of the ones that I’m going to, you know, be passing on to all my friends who, some who are cops and others who just love everything that comes from the USA network, to say, “You need to see this.” So thank you for your time today.
Michael Ealy: Thank you so much. Thank you, Stevie. I appreciate it.
Stevie Wilson: Thank you.
Operator: And our next question comes from the line of Joan Porter, with MSN Canada. Please go ahead.
Joan Porter: Hello, Michael.
Michael Ealy: Joan?
Joan Porter: Yes.
Michael Ealy: How are you?
Joan Porter: I’m good. How are you?
Michael Ealy: I’m good. How are things in Canada?
Joan Porter: Cold. It snowed this morning.
Michael Ealy: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.
Joan Porter: Yes. Hopefully it’ll be spring soon. Anyway, USA network is really becoming known for its dynamic duos with shows like White Collar and Psych. Can you talk a little bit more about your duo that you’re now a part of? For example, like what makes you two work so well together even at the height of their dysfunction or anger with each other?
Michael Ealy: What makes them work..
Joan Porter: Yes.
Michael Ealy: I think, I’ve got to say it’s a deep, dark USA secret. Chemistry is key. Chemistry is key, and I think the chemistry is what really makes the show. It just does. Even when we’re like at each other’s throats, if you’re still rooting for us, that is the USA way. So I don’t know how it happens, but somehow when you see the final product, I works. God bless them.
Joan Porter: Definitely. Obviously, we don’t know sort of how they got to this point in the relationship where they are forced into couple’s counseling. Will we eventually see what the foundation is that made them friends and really great partners?
Joan Porter: Okay, well thank you. Good luck.
Michael Ealy: I appreciate it. Thank you, Joan.
Operator: And our next comes from the line of Sheldon Wiebe, with EclipseMagazine.com. Please proceed with your question.
Sheldon Wiebe: Hello, Michael. Thanks for doing this.
Michael Ealy: Hello, Sheldon. Thanks for having me, man.
Sheldon Wiebe: In the pilot, which I thoroughly enjoyed, it mentioned that Travis went through something like 18 foster homes.
Michael Ealy: Yes.
Sheldon Wiebe: And I thought, “Wow, that’s more foster homes than birthdays as a kid.” So what I’m wondering is with this kind of background, what was your entry point into playing that aspect of him as an adult?
Michael Ealy: What was my…
Sheldon Wiebe: You know, what was the entry point? What was the focal point that got you into playing him as an adult, with all this strange background?
Michael Ealy: You know, the first thing you do as an actor when you start preparing for a role is figure out the character’s background. And one of the things that I do is work real closely with the producers in determining what was Travis’s background. And obviously the 18 foster homes was crucial
And one of the things that was explained to me is that we’re going to meet a lot of Travis’s foster family members, and that was just beyond exciting for me. Because, you know, I’ve never seen a character like that. I’ve never seen a character with that many mothers. I’ve never seen a character with, you know, so many brothers. And the scene with Money, his Samoan brother, that’s just one small portion of his childhood. And it makes for a much more interesting character, I think, to come from so many diverse backgrounds. The amount of languages that he understands and, you know, you might not be able to speak them all, but you can understand them because he was there long enough.
All of that, to me, makes for a much more interesting, complex and compelling, but also lovable character.
Sheldon Wiebe: Cool. And what’s it like working with the amazing Jack McGee and those (unintelligible) ladies, Sonya Walger and (Andrea Parker)?
Michael Ealy: Let me start off with Jack, because he is the king. Jazzy Jack is what I like to call him. And he was a phenomenal cast mate and friend and brother to have on this journey because his seniority, his life story, all of that weighs heavily into who the captain is and who Jack is as a person. And his ability to have the set in shear hysterics in every scene that he does. I mean he just has everybody laughing, off camera and on camera, the outtakes of Jack are phenomenal.
And so I really, you know, as the lead of the show, I really, really enjoyed having him as kind of the senior guy. You know, he was pops. He was the one who, you know, we kind of went to as our father figure. Really, we did, both on an off the show, and off camera.
And Sonya Walger, words cannot express how I feel about this woman. This is our third project together. And I take pride in the fact that I was instrumental in her being on the show. So I mean she is a force to be reckoned with and she brought a certain amount of credibility and strength to this character these derelicts (need baggage) in their lives. So she helped give us balance and that was so refreshing.
And then (Andrea Parker), I mean (Andy). That’s my girl. I mean she was just on fire in the pilot. She really was. So I hope to work with her again.
Sheldon Wiebe: Great. Thanks so much.
Michael Ealy: Thank you. All right.
Buddy Cop Commandment #6
And our next question comes from the line of Kadeem Lundy, with NewsNotGossip.com.
Kadeem Lundy: Hello, Michael. How is everything?
Michael Ealy: How are you doing, Kadeem? How are you?
Kadeem Lundy: I’m good. First, I’d like to say congratulations of the success of Think Like A Man as well as your upcoming. And so the question I’d like to ask you is with a role like Travis, not really playing towards the stereotypes that you typically find of African American males on TV, what do you think the role of Travis will take to the future of how African American males are portrayed on television?
Michael Ealy: It’s a little muffled, your voice is, so I didn’t quite get the whole question. Can you give it to me one more time, please?
Kadeem Lundy: No problem. So with your role as Travis on TV, how do you think not portraying typical stereotypes of African American males, how do you feel that the role of Travis will influence the future portrayals of African Americans on TV?
Michael Ealy: Oh, okay. Well, I don’t think that, and I’m going through the entire season here in my head right now, I don’t think Travis is…I think there’s only one scene where Travis’s color is kind of an issue. And the way in which he takes control of the situation is pretty funny and powerful at the same time. So I don’t think. I’ve got to be honest with you, I don’t think that race was really an issue in this show at all. And I feel like, you know, the portrayal of Travis, I don’t know if it would, to me, the affect it would have on African Americans in television.
I mean I think it’ll have a positive effect, because there’s not much that’s stereotypical about it. He’s a bit more complex than, you know, other characters I’ve played. So I’m just happy to see what the people say, you know? I don’t want to really speculate on stereotypes, but I don’t really see any in this one.
Kadeem Lundy: Thank you, Michael.
Michael Ealy: Okay, Kadeem. Thank you.
Allison Nichols: Hello, again.
Allison Nichols: Yes.
Ealy: Whatever therapy lessons are going on in our heads, and so, you know, that to me is the biggest impact of therapy on these guys later on in the season. And I feel like, you know, as far as the other cast mates in therapy, they’re very helpful in helping us kind of find our way. And, you know, there are times when we all team up on Wes, you know? And it’s hilarious. And they end up, you know, there’s times when we have to choose sides, which is, you know, one couple. You have to choose a side and it just gets a little funny. It gets kind of funny, but it’s probably what people are thinking when actual couple’s counseling sessions that they just can’t say. But on this show we just blurt stuff out.
Operator: From Jamie Ruby, with SciFiVision.com. Please go ahead.
Jamie Ruby: Hello, again.
Michael Ealy: Hello.
Jamie Ruby: So you mentioned the kind of fun backstage and some of the out takes in that. Can you talk about maybe like a story that something funny that happened backstage, whether it was a prank or an out take or just something that’s fun?
Michael Ealy: Yes. It’s been a minute. Let me think. Oh, okay, one thing. Oh, goodness. I don’t know the name of song. Do you know that song that goes (Humming Song)? Do you know that song?
Jamie Ruby: I’m not sure.
Michael Ealy: Oh, really? Oh my goodness. It’s a great song. I can’t remember the name of it. I’m sorry.
Michael Ealy: This is one of the things that Warren and I like to do is dance. And sometimes we would make routines up and you know we were sitting in the precinct for so long that, you know, we were just, you know, the crew was getting a little tired so we try to, you know, perk them up with a dance or two. And whether it was a Kid and Play dance or, you know, we would do all kinds of like, I don’t know how to explain. It’s just silly dancing on set.
And I remember one take we were in the midst of, we were in the middle of the take and we had the camera operator ring up that song that I tried to express to you and I can’t remember the name of it. But he had that ring on his iPhone and in the middle of the take, we had him play he song. And we both played it off like, “What is that? What is that?” And then all of a sudden it was like a flash mob. We just started dancing through the song. So it was fantastic. And that’s the kind of silly stuff that we would do with, you know, to have fun on set sometimes.
Jamie Ruby: That sounds like a lot of fun. I hope they show that at some point in the outtakes.
Michael Ealy: I hope so too, because it was funny. It was funny.
Jamie Ruby: Well, I’d like to see it. And also can you talk about any of the guest stars we can see this season?
Michael Ealy: Yes. Greg Germann. Henry Simmons. And Ed Begley Jr., oh my goodness, and I think it’s later in the season, but he is a scene stealer. He just comes in and just blows — I mean we were laughing so hard. I am good at not breaking, when somebody does something funny. I was really good at it. But Ed Begley Jr. had me break up many times, to the point I felt terrible because I was ruining takes. And he is so funny.
Other guest stars, Jeff Fahey. Jamie Hector. Yes, that’s just to name a few right now. I’m going a little blank on the other ones. So those are some of the guest stars.
Jamie Ruby: That’s okay.
Michael Ealy: Yes.
Jamie Ruby: Okay, well thanks so much. And again, I really do enjoy the show because it’s definitely like a fresh look on kind of the detective’s drama. So I really enjoy it. Well not drama, it’s comedy. But you know what I mean.
Michael Ealy: Thank you very much. I like that. Love it.
Jamie Ruby: You’re very welcome.
Operator: Yes, actually we do have the line of Allison reconnected.
Allison Nichols: Hello?
Michael Ealy: Hello? Hello. What was the question again? I’ve got to go back and get this answer for you.
Allison Nichols: Oh, I was just asking what can you share about what happens in therapy later on in the (unintelligible)…
Michael Ealy: Oh, definitely. What said was we begin to solve the cases with whatever we have in therapy in our minds. It can affect us positively. It can affect us negatively. You never know. You know what I mean? And that’s what makes it kind of fun.
And then sometimes we actually interact with the other people in therapy, you know, certain therapeutic exercises and that leads to all kinds of complications. And there’s also, you know, just many moments I therapy where we just, it doesn’t look like we’re going to make it. So, you know, it just gets ugly sometimes.
Allison Nichols: Yes.
Michael Ealy: So the therapy is a big part of the show and I’m thankful for it because it really does (unintelligible) define…
Allison Nichols: It is not normally windy. It’s normally just hot. This is rare.
Michael Ealy: Okay. Well did I answer your question?
Allison Nichols: Yes. Like I said, I love the therapy parts of the show.
Michael Ealy: Okay.
Allison Nichols: They’re tremendously entertaining. I can’t to see more of them.
Michael Ealy: Oh, good.
Allison Nichols: All right. Thank you.
Michael Ealy: Okay, good. I can’t wait for you to see them. You too.
Please set your TIVO or DVR to USA Network at 10/9 PM Central to record this series. It’s going to sizzle!
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