TNT's Southlandis back for its fifth season tonight, delivering more raw, realistic drama centered around its ensemble of LAPD officers. BFTV checked in with Shawn Hatosy, who plays veteran officer Sammy Bryant, to see what's ahead for Sammy and partner Ben Sherman - and discuss what continues to set Southland apart.
In season five, Southland will continue to explore its fantastic ensemble, even as there will still be plenty of action on the streets of Los Angeles. "Driving fast cars and chasing people, that's fun and that's always going to be in our show," said the actor. "The character stuff is what I like - in all of these characters, Lydia, Cooper, Ben and Sammy.
"As far as Sammy goes, we get a little glimpse into his world, and we catch back up with Tammi and what's going on in her world. They've got a kid together [and] now his ex-wife, who we know is unstable, is with his kid 24/7. I think that he feels a ton of guilt and responsibility for the kid."
Sammy's partnership with Ben (Benjamin McKenzie, pictured above left with Hatosy) will also experience some tension as the younger officer starts to push the limits. "Ben, season one, he was a rookie, wide-eyed, looking to come in the LAPD and change it," explained Hatosy. "Now here we are in season five, and I think the job has changed him, things from his personal life have changed him. He's advancing, but he's doing it in ways that [Sammy], his partner, is looking at going 'Really?'"
In one of Southland's most memorable storylines, Sammy chose to step down from being a detective following the beating death of his partner, Nate Moretta. Although he technically could return to detective work, Hatosy believes Sammy won't ever come back to that part of his life.
"No, he did that. And these guys can choose to do whatever they want," he explained. "I think he's very much like John Cooper in that he knows who he is. He's inherently a decent guy, which isn't to say that he doesn't make a ton of mistakes, and maybe he isn't necessarily the best cop in the world as far as always getting the bad guy, but he tries and he means well."
"The writers have done a great job drawing these characters," Hatosy continued. "we have conversations with the writers about different things, and what seems to be working. They're really adept at finding where our strengths are as actors, and shading it as much as possible so there's variety. One of the other things I enjoy about the show, it's not just dark. There's some light stuff. Ben and Sammy, I think it's fun to be in the car with these two."
Has five seasons of playing Sammy changed the actor's own perception of the police? "One hundred percent," Hatosy confided. "Five years ago, you wouldn't see me going to some LAPD event and shaking hands with Chief Beck. That's not who I was. I certainly looked at police like 'Oh, those guys. They just want to mess with me.' And now I have so much respect for what they do."
In addition to Southland, Hatosy has made a few guest appearances on other series during the show's run, including an episode of CBS' Hawaii Five-0. Asked what else he'd recommend for fans to check out, "The movie Outside Providence I'm really proud of, The Faculty, The Cooler was a pretty cool movie. As far as TV stuff, I did a little arc on Dexter that was kind of fun. I got to play a serial killer," he said, adding with a laugh, "For me, it's either a cop or a killer. There's no in-between. I'm not going to play a teacher."
Fans have embraced him as a cop, and he's happy to continue in that role. "I am so proud of Southland," he said. "if somebody's reading this that hasn't seen Southland, tune in. It's not your typical cop show. This isn't a procedural. It's totally different. You feel like you're riding in the car with these first responders. And it's riveting."