In the second season premiere of "The Cleaner" -- which airs tonight (Tuesday) on A&E at 10/9C -- Benjamin Bratt's character, William Banks, disables a toilet in order to trick a client into giving him a specimen to test for narcotics. I got the chance to talk to Benjamin about the new season as well as Warren Boyd, the real life addiction counselor that Bratt's character is based, about his experience rummaging through toilets.

Mike: The subject matter of addiction can be pretty grim. Has there been an episode -- last season or this upcoming season -- that has affected you more than other episodes?

Benjamin Bratt: For me, the episode that has affected me the deepest -- and that I feel is the best work we have done collectively, so far -- is an episode that will air second in our lineup and it stars Joe Don Baker and Michael Beach. It's called "The Last American Casualty" and airs Tuesday, June 30 at 10 pm. And it's a very simple story and I think that's what allowed the show to be so compelling; the storytelling was simple and elegant. It's about these parallel lives -- two struggling alcoholics -- who come from very different backgrounds, very different socioeconomic makeups. And yet the devastation that alcoholism has brought on their respective lives ties them together in a form of brotherhood. And I wont tell you what happens at the end but Joe Don Baker and Michael Beach, both, killed it and they will break your heart. I promise you.

Mike: Do you get much input into your character? For example: If a situation, like this episode, affects you, do you have the ability to say, "I'm feeling strongly about this episode, can we change a couple of things"?

Benjamin Bratt: Yes, the good news is: I don't develop the stories but when the scripts are finally rendered, thankfully, the other writers and producers listen to the input I have. Because I like to say there's no one that knows my character better than me and that's the way it should be. I share a lot of ideas with Warren [Boyd], he shares a lot of ideas with me. And, again, the template for how I play this guy is right here in front of me almost daily. As long as I'm being true to who that is... the words, at times, are not necessarily relevant, sometimes.

Mike: And Warren, about the toilet trick that's in the first episode: Have you actually ever done that?

Warren Boyd: I'm going to be just blatantly honest with you right now: I did it last week. That's a fact.

Mike: Has anyone ever come up to you and almost apologized saying, "Warren, every time you come over our toilet breaks. I'm so sorry about that"?

Benjamin Bratt: [Breaks out laughing]

Warren Boyd: It's a temporary disablement of the toilet and some toilets you can't do that to. You have to actually get inside the wall from the other side and it's really difficult, but... more to be revealed.

Benjamin Bratt: [Still laughing]

"The Cleaner" airs Tuesday nights at 10/9C on A&E

"Mike's Pulse" is a column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan. For any compliments or complaints -- preferably the former -- you may contact Mike directly at
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