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The Light from the TV Shows: On the Set with “Necessary Roughness”

Raise your hand if, when you first heard about the USA Network series “Necessary Roughness,” the first thought that came to mind was this 1991 film:

Uh-huh. That’s exactly what I thought.

Oh, fine, so I couldn’t see how many people raised their hands. I still refuse to believe that I’m the only one whose mind went down that road, though I admit that it’s possible I was the only one who was also thinking, “You might, I might actually watch that…” Not that it was a great film, but it had a pretty interesting cast (Scott Bakula, Jason Bateman, Hector Elizondo, Robert Loggia, Larry Miller, Sinbad, and Rob Schneider), and the college-football-team premise is one that would be easy to pick up 20 years after the fact.

But, no, USA’s “Necessary Roughness,” while also about football, instead revolves around Dr. Dani Santino (Callie Thorne), a divorcée who reluctantly takes on a job as a therapist for a pro football team – the fictional New York Hawks – in an effort to keep herself and her children  afloat financially. After settling into the gig, Dani’s success with the Hawks combined with a significantly increased profile lead to a sudden influx of new and equally high-profile patients. In addition to Thorne, who you may remember from her roles on “Homicide: Life on the Street,” “The Wire,” and “Rescue Me,” the show has several other familiar faces within its cast, including Marc Blucas (Riley Finn on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) as Hawks athletic trainer Matthew Donnally, Scott Cohen (Max Medina on “Gilmore Girls”) as Nico Careles, the team’s ex-SEAL head of security, and Mehcad Brooks (Eggs on “True Blood”) as T.K. King, the Hawks’ star player.

What’s that? You say you’re intrigued and want to know what you missed during the show’s first season? Wow, good thing USA thought ahead and put together the perfect collection of clips to summarize the first 12 episodes for you…

A few weeks back, USA was kind enough to offer me the opportunity to head down to the “Necessary Roughness” set, tour the facility, and meet with Thorne, Cohen, and Brooks. Each of these fine folks sat down with myself and my fellow TV critics, bloggers, and interviewers (I’m just trying to cover all the bases to avoid missing out on someone’s favorite term for themselves) and chatted about their work on the series thus far and what viewers can expect from the second season of “Necessary Roughness,” which premieres – yikes! – tonight at 10 PM.

That’s fine, go ahead and run set your DVR now, so you don’t forget. But rush right back, because the highlights of those on-set conversations are coming right up…

Callie Thorne

Of the cast members we were fortunate enough to meet with, Callie Thorne was with us for the shortest amount of time, owing to the fact that she was actually between scenes when she came down to the conference room for a chat. When called back to the set, the powers that be toyed with the idea of having us stick around to grab her between her next scenes, but in a lovely moment of democracy in action, the group voted to head back to our hotel, as there was no guarantee of A) how long it would take for her to finish the scene she was working on, or B) how long we’d end up getting with her before she had to head back to work. But she was quite lovely while she was with us, and she did give us at least a bit of insight into returning to the role of Dr. Dani after the hiatus, her feelings on the character, and her appreciation of the opportunity to get out of the football stadium once in awhile.

Q: Dr. Dani has the season full when the season kicks off.  Could you talk about getting ready for this second season and some of the fine tuning that went on?

Callie Thorne: That’s a good question about getting back into it, because we did have a nice long hiatus and…it’s always a little nerve racking coming back into a show and, um, before this I didn’t have so much to think about. [Laughs.] This was the first time, coming back into the second season of the show, being number one on the call sheet. I was very nervous about that.  We luckily had about a week before we started shooting, which was little bits of rehearsals, little bits of fittings, and so the guys and I got to play and talk and hang out, and we all just naturally fell back into our roles, and it really made the first few weeks of work that much more sort of giggly and fun.  Because, really, I think what our cast…what we all respond to the most is laughing with each other. Even if it’s dramatic scenes or silly scenes, that’s how we get into it with each other, and I think that shows up on screen. So it was very smart for them to have us come a week ahead of time.

And then in regards to Dr. Dani…you know, especially that first script coming back, there’s so much going on, but everything was so wonderfully detailed.  It made it easy for us to slip back in. And I also really liked the fact that it wasn’t, like, a year later. [Laughs.]  You know, it was sort of really a perfect time to come back.  The audience wasn’t struggling to remember what happened, nor were we struggling to sort of establish things that happened, having to do expositions, stuff like that.  It was all right there.  So I have to say it was easier than I thought, but mainly because we all laugh a lot and we’re able to make those connections again very easily.

Q:  How does Dr. Dani help TK get through everything this season?

CT:  Well, it’s even sort of questionable when we come back if she’s really helping him at that point, because he does think of her in this maternal way, which I think kind of backfires a little bit when we come back to that.  Because now it’s almost like he’s rebelling as a child or, you know, a teenager or whatever would with the parent.  And he isn’t accepting what really happened to him.  He’s in this sort of state of denial, and that makes their relationship really difficult.  She can’t get through to him, and…it’s interesting, because I have thought of it more in terms of a mother kind of trying to get through to their child, to sort of try and get in any which way to get him to admit what happened, because he really is… [Hesitates.] As wild as TK was last year…and he’s a wild and extraordinary character…he’s even more so when we come back, but not for the best reasons.  So I think it’s really interesting the first few episodes watching Dr. Dani trying to get in there any which way, and he’s not taking it.  He’s really not working with her at all, and that’s new, you know.  I think that is a new place to find them and…um, and then you’ll see what happens. [Laughs.] And if that’s good or bad for anybody.

Q:  Where does Dr. Dani get all her strength from?

CT:  I love that, because a lot of what I bring to the character myself is a lot of my own mother.  I grew up with a single mother, so there’s a lot of tone and behavior that I think of in terms of my own mom as well as the woman that the show is based on.  The character is based on a very strong woman (Dr. Donna Dannenfelser), a very… I’ve always said she’s this force to be reckoned with.  And that is in the writing, you know, because she is in the writer’s office, she’s always there to be a part of what the particular patient of the week is.  So she’s also there to make sure that the character is very true to herself and the circumstances that she has been in that we are now bringing you know to the screen. And then I’m also thinking about my own therapist in real life.  And all three of these women are all incredibly independent, are all women that I’ve learned extraordinary things from and still do, and so I really think that that has a wonderful mix with the way the writers write her, and so it also sort of falls into place that these are the women I have in my mind, and the way that they write her is a very strong voice and…sometimes that’s not true.  Sometimes you’ve got an enormous amount of homework to do in order to bring a woman like that to life.  It’s changed in the past few years because there’s so many incredible lead women now, and they’re very layered, some of them are likable and some of them are not, and that’s what women are. We’re many different things.  So I got all that going on, and then I have the luck of good writers that are creating this woman alongside with me.

Q:  What sorts of insights have you gotten from the real Dr. Dani?

CT:  Well, one of the things that’s really hard for me as Callie, doing a lot of the therapy scenes, is, you know, you see someone in emotional pain, and my natural instinct – and I think for a lot of people that I know – if you have a heart, your instinct is to feel for them and to…you know, I want to go and give them a hug, or I want to go, “Oh, my God, I know,” or whatever. The main thing I’ve learned from Dr. Donna is that place that you have to go to, that neutral place, so that you can be a safe haven for that patient. You know, a place that they can be honest, not feel judged, not feel like they have to impress you or whatever. So I’m learning some things about how she’s got to present herself as a therapist that help me as an actor, just sitting in these scenes. You’re so used to reacting as an actor, and you know that’s what you’re taught in every class.  You know acting is reacting, but most especially in those therapy scenes, I have to really go to a certain head space to not give too much away and let those scenes really be about who I am with and let them tell their story. So I think that’s the biggest thing I learned from her in regards to the character.

And then in my life, I’ve very much learned from her.  It’s a theme in the show as well that sometimes people just want to be listened to, and…it was something I spoke a lot about last year, too, that I have learned to be a better listener because of my conversations with her, and I found myself babbling with her, talking. Sometimes we talk by Skype and I’m going on and on and I feel so great afterwards, and I realize she didn’t even say anything.  [Laughs.]  She just listened to me, she didn’t try to fix me, she didn’t try to, you know, make parallels and say, “Oh, I know, because this happened to me.” And that’s very meaningful to me.  So those are the two things that I am very grateful for that I learned from her.

Q:  What are some of your favorite aspects of stepping outside of the football arena?

CT:  Well, my first favorite is what happens in the second episode. Or maybe it’s the third. They get tangled. But it’s the roller derby, so for several reasons…I was really excited that we were focusing on a female athlete, and then roller derby’s something that I’ve always loved watching. There was this girl I met three or four years ago, and she was an actress who on her off time was this very famous…I think they’re really called the New York Dolls. I’m not even sure. But she was a very famous New York roller derby girl, and she had stories that blew my mind, so that was very exciting to me. They created for the show a roller derby arena, but they did it very beautifully, and they got a real team together. That was (director) Rob Morrow’s episode, and I think also, because he’s an actor, they got a little bit more into that sort of stuff. And the actress that they cast as the girl with the issue was a real tough little cookie, and she was getting really involved in it.  So that was fun for me, because I got to go and sort of be in there and meet all these incredible women, these tough women. I think that’s what I’m very excited about in regards to the second season.  There will be way more leaving the football stadium. Although, obviously, I love going to the football stadium.  [Laughs.] But that just makes it more exciting for me.

Scott Cohen

Q: So we’ll maybe get to know more about Nico this season?

Scott Cohen: A little bit. A little bit, yes. (But) he remains a mystery.

Q: Is everything over between Gabriel and Nico? And if so, will there be an appearance of a love interest for you?

SC: That’s really a question for the writers. But it’s not over over, and I hear that there is love to come.

Q: Would you like to see Nico together with Dr. Dani?

SC: With Dr. Dani? Uh, yes and no. I mean, I think it’d be a really interesting dynamic. I want it to happen, if it’s ever going to happen, much later, ‘cause I want it to be teased for years to come.

Q: (Because) it’ll get really awkward at work?

SC: Yeah, well, it already has. It’s kind of weird. I mean, it’s, like, the tension between him and Matt, he knows what’s going on, so he’s very protective of Dr. Dani, so I think it’s…it just kind of stays interesting. And keeps us going for a while.

Q: Is there anything that Nico doesn’t know?

SC: There’s nothing Nico doesn’t know.

Q: He knows everything.

SC: Yeah, the episode we’re shooting now, actually, you’re, like, “How did Nico do that?”

Q: So you were behind the scenes today…

SC: Yes, I’m trailing Andy Wolf, the director, to try to get experience in directing.

Q: Is that where you see yourself going?

SC: Yeah, I’d love to. It’s very fun.

Q: Would you want to direct an episode?

SC: I would love to. Yeah, love to.

Q: Does it give you a different window into the acting side of things?

SC: It does. It completely gives you a different point of view, and it’s a much more relaxed point of view. First of all, it takes away the pressure. When you’re an actor, you’re always under pressure just about you and your character, and you don’t see the big picture. So, you know, you’re just kind of focused in, you’re very myopic. And reading the script for this episode, knowing that I was going to do this, it kind of allowed me to see everybody and just be aware of everybody’s situation and have a very kind of equal balanced view of it. As opposed to, “Wait, I should have that line, wait, I should be in that scene…” You know, like that. Which is usually what an actor does. It’s, like, you know, “How come I’m not in that scene? How come I’m not doing that?”

Q: What kind of preparation did you go for the role? Did you actually talk to any Navy SEALs?

SC: Yeah, I talked to two Navy SEALs that I’m connected to, actually. Via Facebook, interestingly enough. I talked…well, not so in depth, but I got some information from them. I talked more to NFL security people, who exist and who are very present in players’ lives, and I kind of got a sense of what their backgrounds might be, who they are and where they come from and things like that. That’s basically what I did. I mean, for Nico…from the very beginning, what was interesting to me…‘cause I think I’ve always played characters that are a lot more talkative, a lot more energetic, a lot more involved. What attracted me to him in the beginning was how quietly energetic he was. I mean, he was so quiet but so intense, and that to me was always interesting. To be able to play that… at least for me, it’s so difficult to actually just shut up and trust that your power is in your silence or in your eyes or whatever it may be.

Q: What kind of input do you have into creating and shaping the character of Nico?

SC: A lot. Not his story arcs. I mean, they’ll take a phone call and I’ll pitch an idea very easily. It might not happen. They might say, “Oh, that’s really interesting…” But they’re very open to ideas, they’re very open to very free interpretations of a scene. Not that things will necessarily be used, but, you know, I can say, “Oh, I read this article and this looks like a really interesting thing for Nico,” or, “You know, I thought about this,” and they would totally hear it and try to, you know, put it into the fray.

Q: What kind of stories would you want to see for Nico?

SC: Traveling to foreign countries. Tropical islands. [Laughs.] That’s an interesting question. I mean, I would love to see a little bit more of his background as time goes on. I mean, I think it’s too early now, but people that were in his life…I really would enjoy that, if they were kind of coming back into his life. That would kind of interest me. And I’d love to see him…like, the whole idea of him having a daughter last season was very interesting to me, ‘cause I love the idea of a man his age…I mean, does he have a family? Does he not have a family? Did he have a family? That’s interesting to me.

Q: Are we going to see anymore of Nico’s vulnerable side?

SC: Vulnerable? Yeah, you see a bunch in the first four episodes. Him dealing with (Evan Handler’s character), it gets nasty. It really gets nasty, and Evan Handler, who is superb, plays someone you believe is an evil human being, and Nico has to kind of keep it at bay. And he’s having trouble doing it.

Q: Life-and-death stakes, or more emotional?

SC: I think it’s more emotional, I think it’s life and death in terms of the stakes of the money that’s involved, and the team and how many lives are at stake. It’s more like that.

Q: What’s the weapon in Nico’s arsenal that he is going to be really employing this season? He’s got a lot of different tools to control things.

SC: Nico’s main power is his information, his knowledge, and he’s capable of using it at lightning speeds. So I think that’s his greatest weapon. If you’re talking about, like, guns and knives and things like that…is that what you’re talking about?

Q: Tools of the trade.

SC: Negotiation, manipulation, and threat. [Laughs.]

Q: Willingness to carry through?

SC: Absolutely. No question. Which he does.

Q: He can acquire information, but does he utilize it?

SC: In this season, he utilizes quite a lot of things that we just did not mention. But, you know, his threats get carried out, so…

Q: Is there any limit that he will not cross?

SC: No, I don’t think so. I mean, I think that if he’s confronted with having to make a decision, that somebody that he needs to protect is in trouble, then he’s willing to go the distance. He’s willing to take a bullet for somebody. That’s his mentality.

Q: But he’ll never lie.

SC: Never, ever, ever. As opposed to Scott Cohen, who is one big fat liar. [Laughs.]

Q: Isn’t lying the act of omission? He controls information, he doesn’t reveal it.

SC: Yeah, I think that’s pretty accurate.

Q: He holds and manipulates information that way.

SC: Yep. That’s very accurate.

Q: So in that sense, he’s not lying.

SC: He doesn’t lie about things about himself. So, I mean, if you ask him a question about him, he’ll be honest with you. There’s nothing he needs to hide. Nothing. But in terms of a negotiation or in terms of a manipulation, or in terms of just trying to get somebody to do what he needs them to do, he will manipulate information in order to get what he wants. But I don’t think that’s in the context of lying. Lying is more about him. He just has nothing to hide. He has no regrets, he’s very satisfied and content with who he is, which might be his flaw. He’s happy where he is. Nothing will affect him that much. But things do affect him that much. That’s what we see in this season, I think.

Q: Do you feel that the writers are writing more towards you?

SC: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think they were surprised in the beginning of last season how Nico…just kind of how he panned out. They’re not modeling it after me by any stretch of the imagination. But trying to infuse everything that they’ve created last season with mystery, and him knowing everything that’s underground…they’re utilizing that. I think that’s definitely happening. But they’re really trying to keep it him mystery at the same time. You learn tiny, tiny pieces of the mystery.

Q: You mention you talked with these NFL security guys. Were there any parts of the show ripped from the NFL security guard headlines?

SC: Not that I’m aware of. No. Except, you know, just in how much trouble TK is in.

Q: Mark Blukas’s character…Matt and Nico are vying for the alpha dog position. Will we see that tension develop?

SC: You do, yeah. It reaches a head in the second episode, . And it’s very tense between the two of them mainly because of TK, not because of Dr. Dani. But I think Dr. Dani’s playing a major role in it. It’s funny you say that, because I don’t really see it like we’re, you know, ‘vying for the alpha dog position,” but that’s probably what it is, really. It’s definitely very present. But something happens to him and…I’ll let him tell you, maybe, if he wants to spoil it. But he’s going places. [Laughs.]

Q: What do you think Nico’s motivation is in what he does? Is he trying to help people?

SC: I think he’s just doing his job. He’s just doing his job. I mean, I think it’s really plain and simple for him. If this job left, if this ended today, then he’d be okay. I mean, that would be how he acts, but he would hopefully be friends with people. Who knows? Maybe nobody likes him. [Laughs.] I think he just does his job. I think it’s really just that his job is so intense…it’s, like, what he does involves so many people and involves such high level personality that…well, it’s not the same story, but you know “The Bodyguard,” with Kevin Costner? I mean, it’s similar type of, y’know, you do what you have to do to get the job done. That’s simply what has to be done. He’s very loyal.

Q: TK’s your Whitney.

SC: TK’s my Whitney. Exactly. That’s going on Twitter tonight. [Laughs.]

Mehcad Brooks

 

Q: Kevin was telling us when you came back for this season you were in better shape than you were in the first season. Did you do something different in your time off?

Mehcad Brooks: Yeah, well, I mean, last season was kind of unfair to me, because I couldn’t work out ’cause I got in a really bad car accident. So I did the best that I could, but, you know, I was on a lot of medication, so there wasn’t a lot I could do. So this year…oh, my goodness. [Laughs.] About two months out, I worked out with some pro guys who train Olympians, and I just took it really seriously. Now that I have the physical opportunity to do so, I’m not playing around.

Q: We were told you’d have more scenes with Terrell Owens this year. Does that relationship get ramped up?

MB: You know what? It…yes, it gets ramped up a lot, and then what happens is, it sort of gets rectified, all in the same swoop. So it’s kind of nice. He becomes likable all of a sudden. I think it’s good for TO. I mean that in a nice way, actually, because he’s a nice guy. But his public persona, you know, is what it is. But if you know him, if you meet him, he’s actually very misunderstood. I think he’s very shy, and what happens is he comes off in a protective way, and it’s unbefitting of his personality, because he’s actually a really nice guy. Believe it or not.

Q: Vivica was missing from episode one. Is that the last of her?

MB: Yes, I’m afraid so. Her body floats up soon. [Laughs.] I’m kidding!

Q: Scott said that the relationship between Nico and TK is going to evolve into something like a father figure.

MB: Yeah, I call it Teko. TK and Nico. You know what I’m saying, like Brangelina, but without the sex. [Laughs.] I think it’s cool, because it’s, like, TK finally has a paternal figure in his life, and he’s never had that. You know, he does need a positive male figure in his life. And Nico is the only guy with the patience and probably the training to handle someone’s attitude as large as TK’s. I mean, the guy doesn’t listen to anybody but Nico, really, so…there you go.

Q: Did you do any research into PTSD for the new season?

MB: Yes, I did. I did a lot, actually. I got a couple friends who’ve come back from Afghanistan and Iraq with some issues. One guy was actually blown up by a grenade and…we knew each other for 16 years, 17 years. He’s one of my best friends, he’s like a brother to me, we worked together, I got him a job on “My Generation” as our military coordinator, and…he’s just a great guy, just a fantastic guy. 13 surgeries later, to make a long story short, he’s walking, he’s running, he’s back, you know, as part of the population physically. And that’s a great phone call to get. So I’ve seen it first-hand, and I’ve been able to talk to him about it, he’s been strong enough to open up to me about it, and…you know, I want to portray it as seriously as possible.

Q: And as accurately?

MB: And as accurately as possible, because it’s an under-discussed subject and it’s something that two million Americans are going to have to deal with actively themselves, not to mention the toll it’s going to take on families and friends and relationships and jobs and so on and so forth. I think no one really wants to see soldiers going through it, because we have this sort of war fatigue and we have this insulation. We haven’t even paid for the war, you know. Taxes like we have, we’re completely insulated from it, and I think when it’s coming from an athlete or a football player, somebody that we see every day and that we allow into our home every day, it’s different. And so I hope that maybe…you know, I have athletes who come up to me and say, “Hey, what you did was realistic.” And I hope that one of these days I’ll have a soldier come up to me and say, “You know what? I went through that, my family went through that, and thank you for taking it seriously, because it really affected us.” So it’s not something that I make light of. Not that part of it.

Q: Thank you for that. I love the way it’s being portrayed.

MB: Thank you. Thank you very…I just got goose bumps. Thank you very much. ‘Cause that’s one part of TK that I can’t laugh at. I’ve seen it first hand and, you know, I’ve been there for guys who have gone through it. And I went through it in some ways in my life. You know, you don’t have to go to war to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I’ve lost a family member, I lost my brother when I was19 and he was 17, and, you know, you react in the way that you do. You just react in the way that you do. And there’s no wrong answer for it, there’s no right answer for it, but there’s ways of healing holistically that I think that we as a nation, we can embrace our sons and daughters that way, and have them know that they’re welcome to come back. That’s what they need, they just need love. And understanding and patience. So I hope that we can touch on it a little bit.

Q: Is your character going to face this head on or fight longer with it in the background?

MB: Well, in real PTSD, you don’t know you have it. So you deny, you go through withdrawal of what the situation was, you have nightmares about it, you start to beat yourself up, you become a hermit. There’s all types of different things that happen, these sort of several different stages, and there’s a lot of debate on it clinically what those stages are. But a lot of it has to do with manic depression and bipolar and all these things that start to open up in your brain. So, yeah, he goes through the same stages that most people would, I think, if they come to this near death experience and they come to terms with their own mortality. Which we don’t on a day to day basis, thank God. I mean, most of us don’t, anyway.

Q: How is it for you to portray such a serious arc, for an actor who was normally playing such an upbeat character last season?

MB: Challenging. But that’s what I got into this business for, is to be challenged. I love this job because it’s varied in that way. You know, and one minute…which is great about CK…one minute you can have him in a scene where he’s on the verge of tears and not knowing what’s going on in his life, and then really sort of losing grip of who he is. And then the next moment he’s having a Twitter war. Like he’s a 12 year old. And that’s fun to play, but sometimes when you’re shooting both scenes in the same day, it’s, you know, “Can you put that one first, please?” [Laughs.] So it’s interesting, but it’s a lot of fun. It is. It’s fun to be challenged.

Q: Are we going to see any new love interests?

MB: You know what? To quote Sammy Davis, Jr., “You must love yourself first.” You know, to quote another black Jew. [Laughs.]

Q: Will you go into TK’s past and some of his family members while he goes through this?

MB: We, we do go back to his old neighborhood. You know, he doesn’t really know his family. He was a foster kid at nine years old, only child, mom’s passed on, father he doesn’t know, so you see the closest thing to family that he has. I think it’s Episode 203, 204, or something like that, but it’s great, he goes back to his old neighborhood and hides out for a couple episodes and, you know, gets into some shenanigans, some funny stuff…and some not so funny stuff, actually. And it’s weird because, especially after almost losing his life, he kind of doesn’t know where he belongs, you know, professionally. It’s almost as if, “Wow, you know, I catch a ball for a living. Is that important? I don’t know.” He starts to question everything. “Maybe I just want to go home and just be around people who love me for being Terry King. Not the King.” So he’s kind of doesn’t fit into either world and doesn’t really know where to go. So he goes through that for a little while as well. So that’s when you kind of meet the people who are in his past.

Q: Are we going to see more fun stuff with Terrance and Dr. Dani’s kids?

MB: I hope so. I really enjoy working with them, I think they’re so talented. They’re really, really talented, hard-working kids and…I shouldn’t even call them kids. They’re adults. They’ll hate me for calling them kids. I don’t think I would’ve been ready for what they’re doing at 18, 19, 20. So I have a lot of respect for them. Yeah, actually, I know I wasn’t ready. [Laughs.] I know I wasn’t.

Q: Do you base the TK antics on anybody in particular? It reminds me of TO.

MB: Okay. [Laughs.]

Q: Was that informed by the script?

MB: I can talk about who it’s actually based on, right? [Waits for a response from the publicist.] Okay, so it’s actually based on Keyshawn Johnson. Who I don’t know from a can of paint. So I based it on other guys that I know in the league, TO not being one of them. ‘Cause I didn’t know TO all that well before we started working together. And I based it on my dad, who was a wide receiver in the 70’s and 80’s when, you know, cocaine was a performance enhancing drug and it was okay. [Laughs.] You know, those were wild times and different times in the NFL. I got to see some of it first hand as a kid. And then I also based some of it on myself in my young 20’s. Like, you know, but what if I had 85 million dollars and I was that stupid? [Laughs.] In some ways, it’s like I’m coming into work and just being a dick and getting away with it. ‘Cause I’m actually kind of nice in person, I think. At least to myself.

Q: You love yourself?

MB: Not really. Mostly. [Laughs.]

Q: How do you get into that mindset of being so arrogant?

MB: I wake up. [Laughs.] I like to pretend that I’m arrogant. I don’t think I am, really. How do you get into that mindset? You know what it is? It’s that TK and I are really different. He’s not even a dude I would hang out with, tell you the truth, but I’ve known guys like that and it’s just about really you know, taking five minutes to believe your hype. If you thought you were God’s gift to insert noun, you know, then that’s how you act. There’s no boundaries, you’re put on a pedestal by society, so that means you’re above the societal mirror, which means you can’t even really look at yourself in a realistic light. I know people who are this famous, and they read the tabloids and they obsess about what people are saying about them, and I’m just, like, “God, that is tough.” That’s got to be really, really tough. You just have to accept them. So, y’know, it’s weird. It’s just taking my personality, a piece of it, and just…I don’t know, injecting it with anabolic steroids. Uh, not literally. [Laughs.]

Q: Can you talk about actually playing the football scenes? How did you prepare for that and how did you feel about those scenes?

MB: Well, I pulled my hamstring in the pilot, which means I was, like, “Man, I am such an actor. This is crazy.” Like, I’m just Hollywood as hell. [Laughs.] So there I was sitting on the sidelines rubbing my leg, I couldn’t even do all the stuff that I wanted to do, so then I came back and I got in the car accident, which was bad, so I couldn’t really do a lot. So this year when I came back, I was, like, “You know what? I’m going to do all my stuff. I’m going to make my stunt doubles look bad. “ And I’ve done my best. Like I said, I kind of had my training camp in LA, and then every chance I get, I go up to some surrounding states, I work out with some pro-bowlers, and I know what I’m doing now. And it’s fun. It’s really fun. Sometimes they take the stunt double out and put me in. Except when I get hit. I mean, I ain’t doing that. [Laughs.]

Q: For TO’s returning role, is he going to act more like a catalyst of change to get TK back on track or just dance on his grave?

MB: That’s a good question. He does a little bit of both, actually. I don’t want to get too much into it, but there’s a Twitter war, and there’s some really awful things, at least in TK’s world, said about him. And TK, like a grown man, goes to handle it, and…shenanigans ensue. [Laughs.]

Q: There’s been some pretty great guest stars on there. Is there anybody you would love to see on the show?

MB: Anybody I’d like to see? I mean, there’s just so many good actors…

Q: Any pro football players?

MB: I mean, I would love Aaron Rodgers on the show. I met Aaron at the Super Bowl, we hung out for a couple days. He’s a good dude. Awesome dude, and loves the USA, so Aaron, if you’re reading this, if you scouring the blogs for your name, come on down. [Laughs.]

Q: Have you gotten feedback from NFL players about this?

MB: I have. I have. And not always positive. Some are, like, “Man, your stance is horrible. Come on, dog.” I’m, like, “Let’s see how you can do a monologue, fool. I barely understand what you saying right now. And take that HGH out of your mouth!” [Laughs.] Something’s wrong with me. But I’ve had a lot of positive feedback and I’ve had some really helpful criticism, actually, too. There was actually a conversation with… [Hesitates.] With a very well known wide receiver. [Laughs.] In a nightclub, and he was helping me with my stance. Everybody’s dancing around us like we’re in New York, and I’m, like, “All right…” He’s, like, “No, the problem is, your form is down perfect, but you look like a Poindexter.” So TK has a new stance now. [Laughs.]

Q: Do you think that TK because he believes his own hype, he’d ever want to branch out into something else, like another pro sport?

MB: I think TK thinks he can be an astronaut. [Laughs.]

Q: Would he actually go do it?

MB: All right, here’s the funny thing about playing a guy like this: when everything that you’ve done in your life has led up to achieving this dream, and then you believe that hype, it is hard to even tell yourself “no.” That, like, “You can’t do something.” And maybe that’s true, I don’t know. Like, I mean, Jordan did it with baseball, and he was actually pretty good. Maybe if he had stuck with it, he probably could’ve went pro. Like, pro pro. I don’t know, I think his reality is so surreal that, yeah, I could imagine him quitting everything and going to be a photographer. Or quitting everything and trying to be an astronaut, or quitting everything and, y’know, looking for treasure in the Pacific Ocean. [Laughs.] I mean, he’s crazy. Make no mistake about that, he’s crazy. It’s so fun to play.

Q: Where do you get your inspiration from for this role?

MB: Well, like I said, it started off with my dad. My biological father, I should call him. I call my stepdad my dad. I started off with him, and then it kind of had to take its own life on after that, because that only gives you so much information and so much to start with. But it was rooted in that and then kind of sprouted its own life from there. So where do I get my inspiration? You know what? Kanye West actually is somebody that I looked to. I mean, I admire Kanye West, period, because I think that he’s brilliant. His brilliance can’t be denied. But I think he’s also been brilliant in business, in the fact that he puts up a public persona for everybody to attack while he’s just kind of under the radar living his life the way he wants to while you’re attacking his persona. So you have no clue who this guy is. Which I think is amazing. I think it’s really, really smart. I mean, you may not like it, but you got to kind of respect how smart that is. Like, you never are actually criticizing Kanye West. You’re criticizing the persona he’s allowing you to, and I thought that was brilliant. And I thought that TK, who’s probably not as smart as Kanye West, is trying to do something like that. But he’s failing. So he’s just kind of an asshole. [Laughs.]

  

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