Recently, SouthLAnd First had the honor of obtaining an exclusive interview with SouthLAnd's Michael Cudlitz, who plays veteran officer John Cooper. Michael is one of the stars of the amazing ensemble cast of the critically acclaimed police drama. He gives us some insights into his character, his career in general, SouthLAnd fans, and the much anticipated season four of TNT's SouthLAnd.
SLF: For the new viewers of SouthLAnd, how would you describe your character John Cooper?
MC: I would describe John as a person who wants to have a positive effect on the community. He sees injustice all around him and thinks he can make a difference, actually he knows he can. He sees himself as “The voice of the voiceless” … Fighting for victims who no one can hear.
SLF: SouthLAnd has been praised by policemen, critics, and fans for the attention to detail. From the clearing of the triple murder house in Season 2 down to the way you clip your keys on your belt. This has to be satisfying as an actor and a distinction for the show.
MC: We take pride on SouthLAnd to make sure we get the “Police Work” correct. We know we do not always get it 100% right but we always strive to represent the actual police work in a realistic light. Sometimes the nature of the scene or the limitations of the workday forces us to compromise. But within these compromises we try to honor the intent of the actual “procedure”. The feedback we get from current and retired law enforcement is very satisfying for everyone involved. In my opinion it is one of the corner stones for the success of the entire series. We have an amazing creative team behind SouthLAnd.
SLF: You have been filming the new season for a couple of months now. How has the series evolved for this current season? How will Cooper’s story arc be different post rehab?
MC: Season 4 is a complete reset for the show. Everyone gets new partners and even though some of those partners have been on the show for a while none of them have worked together before. The dynamic of the show has changed. No longer is it about John teaching a rookie. Now SouthLAnd is about what it’s like to be an officer at different stages of her/his career. For John this means a new beginning. We have never seen a physically fit John Cooper. Episode one -We get to meet him. Nothing will ever be the same.
SLF: Could you give us some spoiler free insight into episode one?
MC: Everyone exposes things about themselves that no one has ever seen, especially Sammy. *winks*
SLF: The writers are great, but is there ever time to film another version of the scene? Do the actors ad lib very often or get to make suggestions?
MC: SouthLAnd has always been a very collaborative situation. We have writers for a reason “they write”. We are actors “we act”. Everything comes from the script first. That being said, if we are in a situation where something isn’t working in the scene because of location or circumstances on the day of shooting, we find creative ways to fix the situation. Most of the adlibs come at the head or tail of the scenes. Sometimes we play. Always, with respect to the written words.
SLF: Do you have a favorite scene of the new season that we can keep an eye out for?
MC: Yes, in episode 5 but I can’t tell you cause it’s very spoilery.
SLF: With the fast-paced filming style of SouthLAnd; do you find it frustrating to work on slower-paced movies or TV shows?
MC: No. Both have advantages. In my opinion they work hand in hand making you a better performer. Sometimes you have the luxury of time to fully work out something in a scene and on the other hand sometimes too much time can help you to over think something. Working in both film and television you start to discern what warrants more time in a situation and you become much more efficient as a performer.
SLF: SouthLAnd has a very loyal and vocal fan base and social media has played a big part in that. How have the fans affected you and your performance?
MC: The fans have been amazing. SouthLAnd would not be on the air if it weren’t for the fans and in my opinion the strong response they had on social media when we were cancelled from our network home. As far as my performance - no effect. My responsibility is always to John Cooper first. That is what the fans expect.
SLF: How do you handle all the demands on your time - like all those people who ask for interviews - and still find time for family and other pursuits?
MC: I just try to fit it all in. Sometimes it just takes a little longer than it should but family always comes first. Everyone understands that.
SLF: Do we get to see Sammy and Ben running in the same scene this season?
MC: I think so. But I’m not sure.
SLF: You have mentioned that you enjoyed being a producer for Grief Tourist. What did you like about being a producer and do you have any current plans to produce another project?
MC: I loved being involved from the beginning. Helping guide the script. Working with casting. Picking the crew and all the work involved with post production. It’s an amazing feeling to see all of the hard work from an entire crew come to fruition knowing you helped put that group together.
SLF: Anything else you would like to add? Any future projects you want to mention? Want to tease us with something from Season 4?
MC: Yes, watch SouthLAnd S4 !!!! ……….. “Nothing is as it seems”
The team at SouthLAnd First wishes to thank Michael for giving us his time for this interview. It is greatly appreciated and as he said...everyone watch SouthLAnd season four premiering January 17 at 10EST, only on TNT.