Shawn Hatosy is going to the dark side again. After his brilliant run as LAPD detective-turned-beat cop Sammy Bryant on TNT's Southland, he's now playing a different kind of officer - one that you don't want to turn your back on. In CBS's new serial drama Reckless, Shawn steps into the role of South Carolina detective Terry McCandless, who's at the center of a department scandal. We checked in with him last week to talk about the transition from Southland to Reckless and generally good guy to one that's likely to make you cringe.
"Southland was a life-changing project," Shawn reflected. "It was creatively satisfying, it was challenging, and it was also a wonderfully collaborative experience. When you spend time - five years - working on something like that, I think you really go in to any other project with these kinds of expectations. Having said that, this came along, and it was so vastly different - just the content and even just the scope and the scale and the style. It came at the perfect time."
Was he concerned about playing another detective right away? "Not at all," he said. "This guy Terry, he's a detective. But [on] Southland, it was like ninety percent on the job; our personal lives were very prominent on that show, but it was a very on the job kind of show. For me, this guy, it's more like ten percent on the job and ninety percent the things that he's doing outside of it."
Not to mention that Terry couldn't be more different from Sammy, or from most cops for that matter. "He's the villain," Shawn told us. "That in and of itself was a challenge, and something that struck me, because you look at these kinds of characters and try to figure out how to make them relatable.
"Looking at my research on villains - and I did a lot - they all come from a decent place. Look at Darth Vader, he wasn't always bad," he explained. "I looked at Terry kind of, I think deep down inside, he's just a guy that truly fell for a girl and what that has created is this truly evil, dark guy. Once you start to peel back the layers on some of these people, you always find that little scene from their youth where they went wrong, and Terry's the same way."
It helps that Shawn has demonstrated time and again that he knows how to play both sides of the good versus evil spectrum. Sammy Bryant wasn't a saint either, and while he was starring on Southland, Shawn also was killed off Dexter, shot seven people on Law & Order: Los Angeles, and was one of the antagonists in a two-part episode of Body of Proof alongside Annie Wersching, who also played his wife in an installment of Hawaii Five-0 in which he - wait for it - killed somebody. He's got his own considerable body count, at the same time that he can bring to life other characters that we've loved so much. And that duality serves him well in his new gig.
"That's the beauty of Terry, is he's kind of both [good and evil]," he told us. "He definitely breaks the law, but he's a little bit of both. I like stretching that as far as I can."
"The worlds are so different," he added. "I spent so much time playing Sammy Bryant, so there was enough juxtaposition between the two...It was different for me, and I assume people that watched Southland that are going to be joining me on this will be like 'Oh, this is so different.'"
As happy as we are to have him back with us on a weekly basis, he's equally happy to be back. "You look at what's going on in the world of TV [and] I think it's a special time to be a working actor in this medium," Shawn told us. "I really do love my job. I like the challenge of creating a breathing, living character that people can identify with.
"The story that [Reckless creator] Dana Stevens is telling is unique and kind of keeps you guessing," he continued. "I enjoy that. I enjoy coming to the end of the hour and thinking I need more. What's going to happen next week? I think this show accomplishes that really well. And I'm excited for people to tune in and get that little jolt."
We're just excited to watch this versatile actor sink his teeth into a new character - because even if we aren't going to like Terry, it's impossible not to like Shawn. No matter what side he's playing on, he's got the talent and the guts to captivate an audience.
Reckless premieres this Sunday, June 29 in The Good Wife's timeslot of 9 PM ET/PT. For more on Shawn, you can also follow him on Twitter (@ShawnHatosy).