Benito Martinez talks LIE TO ME

Did you ever wish that your favorite casts could be shuffled and re-cast on another series, like the FRIENDS cast takes on different roles in another comedy or the Oceanic 815ers shuffle up and end up on another drama?  Tonight, as LIE TO ME moves to its brand new time of 9/8c on FOX, my re-shuffle dreams become a reality: some of our favorite THE SHIELD faces turn up in wildly different roles as Cal and the group investigate a case from their past.  Kenny Johnson (Curtis Lemansky on THE SHIELD), Catherine Dent (Danny Sofer), David Marciano (Steve Billings), Cathy Cahlin Ryan (Corinne Mackey), David Rees Snell (Ronnie Gardocki), and Benito Martinez (David Aceveda) reteam with their THE SHIELD master, Shawn Ryan, for what promises to be a great new episode of the highest rated scripted drama of the summer!

Martinez spent some time with me late last week to talk about his role on tonight’s show, what it’s like working with his old FX friends and Shawn Ryan again, and what’s coming up for him (hint hint: he’s not above begging Shawn for a role on one of his two new shows: TERRIERS on FX or RIDE-ALONG on FOX).

I’m excited for Monday’s episode of LIE TO ME.  One of my favorite shows on TV with cast members of one of my former favorite shows.
Benito: [laughs]

How did this come together?  Was it an idea that Shawn had, or was it a script written, and he thought, this will be great?
I think it was the former.  I think Shawn had been looking for way to integrate his favorite cast of all time [laughs] into his LIE TO ME show.  I think, if I remember correctly, he thought it would be a great idea to put as many SHIELD characters into a LIE TO ME episode but mix them all up, so it looks different but the same.  I think it worked out beautifully.

I’m excited to see it!  Tell me a little bit about the episode itself, and the character that you’re playing.
Well, my character had lost a child years before, and I’m married to Catherine Dent (Danni Sofer on THE SHIELD), which cracks me up [laughs] because David Aceveda would NEVER have fallen for Sofer.  But as a married couple on the show, we have wonderful chemistry, so it went really, really well. We’re strong, and we’re torn.  Another crime happens years later, and someone’s going to be executed for the crime, played by David Marciano (Steve Billings on THE SHIELD), of course, in THE SHIELD, he would never commit any crime at all, any action whatsoever [laughs].  It’s the opposite of who we are, in so many ways of a lot of our SHIELD personalities.  I’m not describing the episode at all, I beg your pardon [laughs].

I think we have the basic gist of it!  How does the Lightman Group get involved with your characters?
They go to see an execution, Tim Roth’s character, that his former wife, played by Jennifer Beals, an investigation they conducted many years ago, and it’s a complicated case, and they’re both on opposite sides of who told the truth in that case years ago, and as that character gets executed, the David Marciano character, it brings to light new evidence because they realize the guy was telling the truth.  So who is the true killer?  And they go on that path, and we happen to be the clients in the issue.

What is it like having a big part of the gang back together?
A good chunk of us were able to be there, worked out the schedules to be there at the same time.  We were scattered, we were all doing different things; we saw each other in the makeup room, as one was leaving, one was coming, and we had lunch together, or say hi in the hallway. We were all saying, oh I’m here, and then you’re here, and a lot of that happened to us.  I guess what I’m saying is, that over the years and having done THE SHIELD, we all, and I truly believe that I’m speaking on behalf of all of us cast members, we all became true fans of each other, of each others’ work, of each other’s integrity.  Of each others’ original approach to how we create what we create.  So whenever we see each other, to this very day, we continue to have that respect and admiration of each others’ work.  I was lucky enough to work with Kenny Johnson for a full season on SAVING GRACE, and watch him be a completely different animal, completely different character, completely different being.  It was just wonderful.  That admiration and that respect, every time we’ve worked together, or are on set together, that is first and foremost our relationship, and it’s so wonderful to be a part of something like where our great leader Shawn Ryan still does everything.  Whenever we’re put together on panels, or interviews, or shows, we always come with guns blazing and nothing but respect love.  It’s a great situation to be in.  I know, I’m gushing, but,

Oh believe me, it’s nice to hear – makes my love for this great group of characters seem validated ha!
We try to reveal that, because we know that it’s an identifiable mark for us and we embrace it.

What’s it like working with Shawn (Ryan)? He seems like such a creative mind.
He really is.  He does nothing hastily.  He works on wonderful instinct but dedicates an incredible amount of time and thought to each element of the process.  When we were on FX, and we first started on THE SHIELD, he was very hands on, on the set all the time, talks with everybody, constantly.  As his job has morphed over the years, now he’s very much in the network world, so it’s a different animal.  It’s very different, it’s very corporate, it changes, and different things are required of him.  But he’s still the same guy.  He still approaches his creative efforts with the same kind of thoughtfulness, and the same kind of talent, for lack of a better expression, and for me, ultimately, that is what is the best part of working with Shawn.  He doesn’t just provide you with some thing, and you have to execute it.  He wants your best talent; he wants your risky part of who you are, as an actor, and that’s the best part, the best place to live, when you’re an actor, to be a little off your game, to be a little bit off center of what you’re comfortable with, and explore that area.  It shows in his work.  Everything he does is off-kilter, but that’s what he finds worth investigating!  I worked with him on THE UNIT, as well, I played the President of the United States.  He was a different kind of guy.  They attacked my character, and I was walking around with a gun, protecting myself, as the President! [laughs] It’s like, Great!

Shawn has two great shows coming up, too – TERRIERS on FX and RIDE-ALONG on FOX.  Any chance that we might be able to see you show up somewhere there?
I will beg him to be on his shows!  We did talk yesterday and I had just completed a movie with Rosie Perez and I’m getting ready for another one, and he was like, Well, I’ll be looking out for roles for you.  That coming from Shawn is a sincere threat and so it’s an idea I’m flirting with.

What else is coming up for you?
I just had a BURN NOTICE come out.  I have a movie with Sam Jackson being released.  I had something on the Syfy channel coming out and one that’s called LIES IN PLAIN SIGHT, it’s a movie I just did for Lifetime, and I play Rosie Perez’s brother.  And the rest of the stuff, we’re still waiting out contracts, so I always wait until they’re signed!

Right, we don’t want to spoil anything!
[laughs]  It’s allowed me a wonderful chance to being play readings and theater here.

Check out an all new episode of LIE TO ME, “Pied Piper,” airing at a NEW TIME – 9/8c on Monday night on FOX.