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TV Interview: Michael Raymond-James Talks About Terriers

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One of the new fall shows building the biggest critical buzz is Shawn Ryan’s Terriers, a dramedy about two down at heel private investigators reminiscent of the style of The Rockford Files, but with an F/X edge of realism. The relationship between the two leads, played by Donal Logue (Life) and Michael Raymond-James (True Blood) is one of the pleasures of the show. Raymond-James spoke to the media about his bromance with Logue, working with Winston and filming his first threesome.

Michael Raymond-James as BrittThe actor was first asked what attracted him to the project. He explained, ” It was the writing. It’s always about the script and initially I didn’t know too much about attachments or anything like that, I just opened it up and started reading and was drawn to the writing–and the opportunity to play a character that people may actually root for was sort of a nice little change. But once I was told that it was going to be Shawn Ryan and Ted Griffin and, of course, Craig Brewer and Donal it was just sort of a no-brainer.”

Asked whether his character, Britt, is still struggling with an attraction to a criminal life, Raymond-James responded, ” That’s a cool point. I think, yes, first of all there’s this sort of breezy freedom to Britt and Britt is certainly the kind of dude who just lives on his impulses and there’s a sort of forced march towards maturity that we’re undertaking for my character in this first season, which inhibits some of that. But I think it’s one of those things where the skill set was analogous to what I used to do as a B&E thief.”

“I’m able to use some of those skills and get that out of my system by taking my ninja powers to the good side. You know what I mean? So I think that while you may very well be right that there is sort of this perpetual draw to the dark side, even if it’s just for kicks as opposed to any sort of nefarious. I don’t think either of these two guys, Hank or Britt, ever want to hurt anybody, but there’s certainly a high associated with the high jinks of breaking into a high security situation.”

The actor said everybody on the show “just steps up to the plate and hits it out of the park,” a view supported by the many glowing critical reviews of Terriers. But there’s no doubt Logue and Raymond-James’ relationship is the heart of the show. Asked to talk about how their friendship wove into the filming of the show, Raymond-James explained, ” First of all, it required zero effort. Donal and I hit it off immediately when I did a guest star on an episode of Life and it was just one of those moments for me where it’s like no matter where my journey takes me through life or whatever, this is some dude that I’m going to be close with for the remainder of it. And it doesn’t mean that this is somebody I’m going to necessarily see every day or hangout with every day but it’s going to be somebody I know our paths are going to cross at some point and we’ll pick up right where we left off and that’s actually what happened.”

“When we got the pickup to go to series we were going to shoot in San Diego so we were trying to figure out living situations and the network gives you like $7,500 for a relocation sort of thing and we decided to take the money and rent our own house together just because a) we like hanging together and we thought it would be helpful in the show with the amount of hours we were going to have to work.”

“We both play guitar and like a lot of similar sort of literature and poetry and music and movies and just sort of kindred spirits, man, and it did help a lot with the work. Every day when they would call wrap we’d get the call sheet for tomorrow’s scenes and we would go home and we would run lines together. Sometimes he’d run a scene with me between me and Laura and he would read Laura’s lines and I would do it when he had a scene with Kim Quinn or Rockmond or whatever and it was great.”

“We just sort of work shopped stuff and the benefit was just that we were always prepared then the next day when we’d show up together even after a 15 hour grind and it’s just really I was—we are both really lucky to be in a situation where you a) have a friend that’s sort of with you on this journey and b) this is somebody that is going to really help you make the work better.”

“And aside from that, just having each other there as buddies is so huge, man. When you’re working on location for five months people like Donal and I can both start to get a little weird. As the time sort of drags on you sort of start to feel isolated in this weird fishbowl. But being there for each other and having a brother going through it with you is just huge, man.”

Buster as WinstonBut Logue isn’t the only actor Raymond-James developed an instant rapport with. One of the series’ actors is of the four legged variety and one of the cutest canine actors on the screen. The actor said, “We had this sort of weird little love affair, man. The actor’s name is Buster. I think it’s important to point that out. His characters name is Winston and Buster immediately sort of—you know they placed him in the truck for the first scene in the pilot and he immediately starting humping my leg. No, ‘Hello,’ or anything, just there it is, man. This is how we’re going to do it. He was a lot of fun to work with.”

“Animals are great. I love hanging with animals and that dude is crazy. We would in a rehearsal just set up his mark and he would come around the corner and hit the mark, hit the mark, hit the mark and then once we yelled, ‘action,’ he would walk right past the mark and just take his spot somewhere else.”

Winston also featured in a very funny first of a kind scene for Raymond-James. He noted, “That scene was crazy. First of all, there’s sort of a little, weird little nervousness stuff about doing a scene that is intimate in a sexual way for the characters, not that the actors go anywhere approaching that, but you want to make sure—for me it’s important that Laura’s comfortable with everything we’re doing and she’s concerned am I comfortable and so everybody wants to make sure everybody’s comfortable and then the little dog is just so nervous, too and God, he was so sweet and such a funny little dude and it was really kind of weird. There’s a dog; me and the dog are under the covers and at a certain point the dog is fetched out by his trainer with some noise and he just comes walking between my legs also underneath the covers and just sort of exits the room and it was my first threesome on film.”

Asked about his character’s arc for the season, Raymond-James offered, ” You know, I’m a little hesitant to get into specifics, but I can say that there is a point where it becomes clear to Britt that the best and only way to sort of get out of a particular predicament is to stop running and pretending that things are not happening fast and to sort of step up to the plate and, for lack of a better term, man up and every action has a reaction and sometimes we’re not always prepared for what the reactions going to be. “

The actor was unwilling to give away any more clues about the season because it’s “pretty well planned, well thought out, well executed”—and all the critics appear to agree. Check out Terriers on F/X on Wednesdays at 10:00 PM for one of the most entertaining of the fall’s new shows.

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