It’s been a while since television critics have all gone a-twitter for a new show, but Shawn Ryan’s new dramedy, Terriers, is getting almost universally excellent reviews. Viewers got the chance to check out the show for themselves last night on F/X , while I had the opportunity this week to join a media call with series star Donal Logue.
Logue has an acting resume going back 20 years, both in film and television, and chances are he’s added his offbeat talent to something you’ve loved. He starred in The Tao of Steve, Grounded For Life, The Knights of Prosperity, Life, and he was the wonderful Jimmy The Cab Driver in MTV spots from the mid-1990s. Terriers offers Logue the chance to showcase both his comedic and dramatic chops in a show that’s been described as The Rockford Files filtered through Raymond Chandler but with a modern edge. Clearly, the charm of the show is hard to pin down in words, but the alchemy works, whatever it is, and Logue is at the centre of it.
The first question for the actor centered on the palpable chemistry between his character (Hank Dolworth) and co-star Michael Raymond-James (Britt Pollack). The two first met when Raymond-James guest starred on Logue’s series, Life. Logue said, ” He and I just really instantly bonded, actually over a book. I was kind of running around with this Jack Kerouac novel, and we fell into conversation. By the end of that long, 16-hour workday, I just realized this guy was kind of going to be a friend for life, whether we ran into each other a lot or kept in touch or not, or wherever our adventures took us.”
“For the show, we decided why live in a hotel? We’ll just rent a house on the beach, and we knew that the challenge of this show—this isn’t to say that it doesn’t have a fantastic cast with Kimberly Quinn and Laura Allen, Rockmond Dunbar, Jamie Denbo, and great guest stars—but the real onus of all the work falls on our shoulders, Michael and myself, so we lived in the same house. We just kind of worked Terriers around the clock the whole time we were down in San Diego, and it was a great experience. But yes, I love Michael. He’s absolutely one of my dearest friends on planet Earth, and so it wasn’t hard, that whole chemistry gel thing.”
Though the two men’s relationship is the core of the show, both Hank and Britt have interesting and close relationships with strong female characters, including Logue’s real life sister, Karina, who plays his sister on the show. The actor noted, “The women are fantastic across the board. I’ve worked with Jamie before. There’s a reason Laura and Kimberly were cast—because they’re brilliant. And Karina, my sister, I think she’s a genius, you know.”
“Do Michael and I have good chemistry? Do I love doing stuff with Michael? There’s no doubt. That’s kind of like a slam dunk. But my favorite individual scenes are always with the women in the show. There’s always something kind of unique and special, and a completely different side to my character that gets to come out and it’s different with each one of the women. So I love that about the show.”
Logue found the emotional shorthand he had with his sister made their work together very intense. He explained, “There were some scenes I had with my sister that were almost too emotionally difficult to do to get through. It was kind of a thrilling experience to be so overtaken by 100% real emotion that it was really difficult to get through some scenes.”
Terriers also has some intense fight scenes, overseen by stunt coordinator Eric Norris (son of Chuck Norris). Logue said, “I’ve always had a really good time doing a lot of that kind of stuff, especially movies like Blade. I’m kind of a difficult person to double because of just the way I look. So it’s always been very fun to do all the fight scenes and the stunts and all that stuff, except I made a massive miscalculation in [the] first fight scene in [the] second episode . . . and I injured myself. It kind of stuck with me for the whole season, but it was a real blast.”
Asked how much of himself he put into Hank, Logue admitted he shared some characteristics with his character. He said, “Some are coincidental and others were more intentional. One very kind of cheesy one, I would say, is when it started and I first met with the wardrobe designer . . . I think Hank seemed like an older guy at the time when it was first written . . . There was part of me that was like, ‘Well, I grew up in this community. I have a lot of friends who still live in Ocean Beach. Let me just be me. Let me just show you how I would externally look being in one of these beach communities in San Diego.'”
“I started kind of from the outside in. And I feel like there’s something interesting about guys who used to be cops or in the military or whatever and had to toe the line. When it ends, it’s kind of like, I don’t want to toe the line for the man anymore. I don’t need to be shored back inside. I don’t need to dress a certain way. I can just—I’m free. If you want to invest in being a perpetual kid at some point, you might as well take advantage of it and be free to look the way you want to look and be the way you want to be. So the external vibe helped start to inform a lot of the internal feelings. Then whatever my private relationship is with things like alcohol and stuff like that, a lot of them just happen to be kind of coincidental, but … I knew an awful lot about, and so that helped me.”
“Then there were a series of really interesting things like, Shawn and Tim Minear and Ted [asked], ‘How would you feel about Hank having a sister and having a family member with mental illness issues and stuff?’ There was a lot of stuff that me . . . and my sister, Karina, [who] plays my sister [Stephanie] on the show—there’s a lot of stuff that we could relate to, so it just started adding up and becoming a combination of bringing Hank closer to who I was and then elements in Hank’s life that I could really relate to.”
Terriers has been described as a dramedy, which suits Logue as he has moved between comedy and drama throughout his career. Asked about the differences between the two genres, he responded, “I think with Grounded For Life, or Life, or Terriers, that it’s all acting. It’s all the same. You’re invested with the same emotional reality of whatever the thing is. Now clearly the formats are a bit different, and what I love about Terriers is that it can be funny, but it doesn’t have the kind of hydraulic pressure on it to be funny every 15 seconds like something like Grounded For Life.“
“I’ve had a good time kind of floating around in all of those different mediums, and I try not to have favorites or be judgmental about one over the other. It’s all a little bit of a different exercise. I actually used to kind of talk down on that half-hour thing, and I was really put straight by John Lithgow who, before I did Grounded For Life was doing 3rd Rock From The Sun. I mean, this guy’s career is so fantastic. He said, ‘Look. What do you not like about doing a two-act play in front of a live audience?'”
Going by the stellar reviews, there won’t be much not to like about Terriers, either. Tune in on Wednesdays at 10:00 PM (ET/PT) on F/X to judge for yourself.Powered by Sidelines