index_corner.gif - 11174 Bytes Banner.jpg - 11843 Bytes
Justice League
UPDATES


Follow Pazsaz Entertainment Network at Twitter!  Become a fan of Pazsaz Entertainment Network on Facebook!  Connect to Pazsaz Entertainment Network on Myspace!  See what Pazsaz Entertainment Network likes on Pinterest  Read the Pazsaz Entertainment Network Blog
OUR SPONSORS

index_center_banner.gif - 14958 Bytes

Bookmark and Share
 
Common Law Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Michael Ealy

This is an interview with Michael Ealy on April 27, 2012 about the show Common Law.

Question:
What do you think the most interesting or entertaining part about your character is?

Michael Ealy:
I would say one of the more interesting parts about Travis is his fear of commitment and abandonment. Those two make him a little bit more complex than he seems. So it was more interesting and fun to play him, because there were more layers than just what we see on the surface. His dating life is so much more fascinating than mine. And he just a lot of that stems from, again, both his fear of abandonment and his fear of commitment, so kind of a catch 22 with him. It really is. It's so much more fun to play.

Question:
What is it that you look for that makes you pick a role?

Michael Ealy:
I've always wanted to play a role which impacts. And if you look at a show like Sleeper Cell, obviously he was Darwyn was the first African American FBI agent who was a Muslim, who infiltrated a terrorist cell, but his father was a Black Panther. And it was so many layers and it was such a powerful show that was so timely when it happened that ultimately for me, the role and the show just resonated with impact. And that's what's important to me.

The Good Wife, it was important for me to step into a successful show, clearly, and play such a pivotal character. You know, I didn't come in as an associate. I came in as someone who was responsible for acquiring a firm in a merger and that was important. That was important. He shook things up in that office and that was important to me.

So at the end of the day, it's the same thing with Common Law. You know, for me Travis, who's a major part of this show. You know, and he is a part of the unit. And I think ultimately he was a cop, but he is also a detective. He's a hardnosed detective, but also has a lot of heart and he knows how to deal with people. And he is one of the most likeable characters I think I've ever played.

Question:
When you take parts do you think about making things so that your fans follow you from project to project?

Michael Ealy:
I don't try to plan how things are going to line up because ultimately I don't have any control over that. If things had gone according to plan, Common Law would have come out first. So it's the studio and the networks pushing and then all that happened beyond my control and I think it actually worked out better this way. So I just try to bring my A-game to every single project. And at that point, what happens with the distribution of that project, that's kind of beyond my control. So I learned a long time ago, don't try to control what is beyond your control.

Question:
Travis and Warren have a really great rapport on the show. Did that come easy to the two of you? I mean did you kind of instantly click or did you have to work at that?

Michael Ealy:
Yes, it came easy. We didn't go on like a retreat, anything like that. We didn't go play basketball for a week or anything like. I mean we had nothing in common other than we were both from the Eastern Maryland-Virginia area, and we were both Redskins fans. And ultimately but it's not like we went to a game together and hung out. We just clicked.

I think there's a certain connection that we both have to the material and our respective roles that end up somehow lining up perfectly and we just clicked. Hats off to USA for casting both of us together and recognizing the chemistry in the room, because it was a long process to find the character of Wes and to find the actor to play the character of Wes. And Warren and I, it was just easy. I don't know how to explain it any other way. It just kind of happened. And so, yes, hats off to USA for that.

Question:
Was it an adjustment for you as an actor to be funny?

Michael Ealy:
It was an adjustment for me. Two years ago I decided to diversify my body of work and it was important to try other genres. You know, I did Underworld. I got into the sci-fi. I did Think Like A Man, I got into romantic comedy. And then Common Law came along and it was an opportunity for me to broaden body of work in television because I pretty much done mostly drama in television. So it was a big challenge for me and the idea that it was given to me is false. I had to audition for this role. I had to show the network and the studio that I could do comedy because just like you, no one really thought of me as funny, because I hadn't shown it, really, in TV or film.

So it was a job that I was actually able to earn and I'm proud of that. And the comedy has made it the most difficult job I've ever had. Because being funny five days a week for 15 hours is the most difficult thing anyone could ever ask of anyone. It's so hard. It's harder than any other job I've ever had. Hopefully people will begin to open their eyes and see that I have some range if given the opportunity I can show that.

Question:
Was anything particular you had to do from the audition process where you could begin to show that you could be funny and you weren't this intense?

Michael Ealy:
The good thing about the audition process, and I credit John Trove a lot for this, is the audition scene, at the end of the scene he said, "Feel free to continue." So I just improvised or I made up a story or I just kept it going. And I think a lot of that helped kind of sell the funny.

Question:
Think Like A Man was such as hit and upended Hunger Games. Were you surprised by how well the movie did this past weekend?

Michael Ealy:
I'll take it. But listen, I think we were all a little bit...We knew we had a good movie on hands, because we saw it a month ago. We knew we had a good movie on our hands. So we were all ready to push it and we all knew it would open well because a lot of people questioned the press that were seeing it were saying this is a classic. And a lot of the press was relieved to see such a open good movie. Like it just was a good movie at the end of the day. And so we knew we had something special.

The numbers surpassed my number by probably 10 million. I expected 23, we did 33. That's fantastic. You know, I thought based on what happened, obviously, with Barbershop, I thought, we opened Barbershop with 21 and we got 82 million, domestic. So I thought this one, "Hey, we'll open at 23, we get to 85, it'll be good," you know? But we opened at 33 and the sky's the limit as to how high we can go because people are watching this movie two, three times already.

So I'm thrilled. I'm thrilled. And the timing of it could not be better in anticipation of Common Law. I'm on Twitter. I see the fans saying, "I'm definitely watching." It's great timing. It really is great timing.

Question:
There are so many women that like you. What in Common Law do you think you're going to be able to provide for them?

Michael Ealy:
I've always been told by all of my female friends and even the women in my family, that comedy, making a woman laugh, is sexy. So I hope that ultimately that will be what works for me in Common Law. You know, at the end of the day Travis is not dominant. So I need people to understand that this is a different role. But ultimately Travis is a lovable guy and he's very sincere. And his fight is can he commit. I think people will find him charming and lovable. And at the end of the day, I think, hopefully the laughter will still be sexy. I hope so. We'll see.

Question:
Besides the comedy, what do you find the most challenging about the role?

Michael Ealy:
I find that dealing, like for me, the most challenging thing was trying to play Travis's fear of abandonment and his fear of commitment, trying to play it like a Travis way. And that'll make more sense at the end of the season. But it's does have some issues and those issues come out in therapy. And it's so hard to be vulnerable, especially when you're a tough detective. But this show is about character. It's about the characters and Travis has to open up and I think that was probably the most challenging, is to have those issues kind of just under the surface of every decision that he makes.

Question:
What's it like as an actor to explore a character's flaws directly in the story through therapy?

Michael Ealy:
Eye opening. I never thought therapy was for me despite maybe 80% of my actor friends do live in therapy, I never thought therapy was for me. I never really saw the value in couple's therapy or any kind of therapy, personally, unless under duress of rape or something like that. But I think that discovering Travis's flaws or his weaknesses or whatever his issues are with his childhood and growing up in the foster care system, to discover them through the course of all these couple's counseling sessions, it was eye opening to me. And ultimately, it had opened my eyes to therapy, and the value of it.

I was under the assumption that therapy was you sat on a couch and somebody tells you what to think and how you're all messed up. But it's the complete opposite of that. And you kind of talk and talk and talk and they ask questions that make you talk. And ultimately you're kind of able to see for yourself where you're going wrong. And so it was interesting and helpful, but definitely eye opening.

Question:
Since Travis and Wes are at odds with each other, how do you think the confrontation helps them on the job?

Michael Ealy:
I think both of them have pretty healthy egos. I think the confrontation grew competition. And anybody who has a job, including probably his other coworkers. Travis has an ongoing thing that he's constantly competing for the attention of the captain. So it just kind of makes it fun, but at the same time, it does lead to them not getting along. They see things differently from time to time.

Question:
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:
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.

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.

Question:
If you can pair the both of you to two characters out there that are frenemies, who would it be and why?

Michael Ealy:
It's kind of hard because both 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.

Question:
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:
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 add up to the expectations. 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.

Question:
How much of Michael Ealy is Travis or vice versa?

Michael Ealy:
Travis's silly side is definitely me. And that's the thing that I have not shared with the world, yet. 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.

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 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.

Question:
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. Where do you guys go from there?

Michael Ealy:
I think from the very first scene we've established that these two guys are drastically different. But it's a big roller coaster from there. I mean to really answer your question 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 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.

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 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.

Question:
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?

Michael Ealy:
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.

Question:
Will we eventually see what the foundation is that made them friends and really great partners?

Michael Ealy:
Yes, yes, yes. Everything kind of comes out in the first season. Everything comes out in the first season, yes.

Question:
In the pilot, which I thoroughly enjoyed, it mentioned that Travis went through something like 18 foster homes. With this kind of background, what was your entry point into playing that aspect of him as an adult?

Michael Ealy:
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 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 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 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.

Question:
What's it like working with the amazing Jack McGee and those 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 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 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.

Question:
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:
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 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 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.

Question:
Since people have been talking about therapy, I have to say I really enjoyed seeing the other couples that are in therapy, especially when they start becoming really invested. Can you share anything that Travis and Wes get into later on in the season, what's in their therapy session? Any fun things? Just anything you can share.

Michael Ealy:
The therapy sessions really become kind of like the Greek chorus of the show, and you know, we begin to work on our cases with whatever therapy is going on in our heads. Whatever therapy lessons are going on in our heads, and so that to me is the biggest impact of therapy on these guys later on in the season. And I feel like as far as the other cast mates in therapy, they're very helpful in helping us kind of find our way. And there are times when we all team up on Wes, you know? And it's hilarious. And they end up there's times when we have to choose sides, which is 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.

Question:
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? It's a great song. I can't remember the name of it.

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 we were just the crew was getting a little tired so we try to perk them up with a dance or two. And whether it was a Kid and Play dance or 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 to have fun on set sometimes.

Question:
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 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.

  • Return to Articles at Pazsaz Entertainment Network
  •  
    Site Sponsors Check this out!    

    Disneyland
    ARTICLES
    OUR SPONSORS

    Search the Pazsaz Entertainment Network:

    Custom Search
    | Copyright & Disclaimer | FAQ | Privacy Policy | Partners | Discussion Board | Feedback |
    Copyright © 1991-2017, Pazsaz Entertainment Network, All Rights Reserved.

    Space