Donal Logue talks TERRIERS
Donal Logue has always been a favorite of mine. Every time I see him in something, it adds something fun to the show I’m watching. So you can imagine how much I’m loving TERRIERS – having seen the first five episodes, I’m so excited to see where this incredible show continues to go.
While Melody was on set visiting the team from TERRIERS, she and a few other journalists had the chance to sit down with the cast of the show. What follows is an in depth chat with Donal Logue, and since they were shooting the season finale, Donal was quite free with the descriptions of just about everything that happens in the first 13 episodes of this fantastic series. I tried to cut out as many spoilers as possible but there are some things still included!
So you’re character is removed from the police force?
Yeah, I was fired basically but it’s interesting because it’s only really come to life in the last few episodes even for me why it happened. It’s been interesting because whether you’ve established it in the script or not, every actor has to have these weird secretive foot holes on the wall. So I had my own scenario as to why I was fired and it turned out to be quite different. But in a way it’s not untruthful. As long as you have something to hold onto, it works well. Everything starts to make this person. I draw upon a lot of different things to stabilize myself, while remaining flexible to how the story line goes. I think it’s something you kind of have to do. Otherwise, everything you do becomes comfortable and you’re not struggling to find this person all of the time. Ted (Griffin), Shawn (Ryan), and Tim listen to all of that stuff and incorporate as much as they can or help us as much as they can with the things that we are really tied to. They help us bridge the gaps to these new things. There’s a lot of invention as you go along in television, which is exciting. I think what’s interesting about this show…when I first read about it in the trades, “Logue Signs On To Do Ryan Post THE SHIELD,” or something, I’m thinking that you can have your take but that’s not what we are dealing with here. That’s not the show we are making. There is humor but I think that for me it feels the most grounded in, if it’s a poignant moment, it feels that way. If we’re in danger, we feel like we’re in danger. If you see THE FIRST 48 or any of these great shows that I love, just look at the emotional reactions from the family members when they walk up and someone says, “I’m sorry.” There’s such honesty and so I hope that there’s that level of honesty and realism that we tried to achieve.
The tone of the show somewhat resonates with the 70s/80s cop shows.
There was a bit of an evolution in even the first two episodes. It starts to find more of its tone and I think it’s more grounded in the drama of what’s happening in these 2 friends lives. Episodes 1 and 2 play more on one side of the spectrum than probably other things that we have done. If you were privy to episodes 3, 4, and 5, where the stakes get higher…
So it finds its FX ground?
It’s interesting because FX had said things like that about brand and show. I worked on DAMAGES and you know, there is a huge difference between DIRT and RESCUE ME. So it’s always thrown out there as if it’s this platonic form up in space and it’s not. It’s bullshit. SONS OF ANARCHY is awesome and it’s tough guy stuff. What I love about The Shield is that it was tough guy stuff but it had these really amazing poignant moments in it. Sometimes they float between the two and Sons of Anarchy has changed in that way too. So I think ours fit in there. I also hope that there’s a camaraderie and ease between Michael and myself that reflects on screen just as much as it did in some of the great buddy shows. I’ve always felt that one way or another, everything is ONE LIFE TO LIVE. Whether it’s ONE LIFE TO LIVE or THE SOPRANOS, there’s always that element of soap opera in a serial drama. In comedy, it’s just like the quality of how you deliver and how much you fight to make those moments real.
Michael and I were watching INTERVENTION or something like that. They were dealing with this guy who had been a world champion boxer turned crack addict in Seattle. He had a son who always tried to have contact with him and another son who was like, “I don’t give a shit, he walked out on us.” The guy had a big ego even though he was on the streets. He was very reluctant to admit to what he had done and where he was. So they brought him in for an intervention and the son that always reached out to him read his letter. Then the son that never wanted anything to do with him started to read his letter and within the first three sentences, this guy made this wail. I want what we do to be like that. It doesn’t have to be but there was this internal soul pain meter that just goes off as a human being. When someone does something that’s so fucking undeniably real, that it resonates with someone watching the television…hopefully that is what we attempt to do in what we do. We enjoy the ride so much and hopefully it has that affect on people watching us go through that ride.
You know, you have your way of being your own diplomat through life and you know what you’re strength set is. So many times in acting, it’s like, “You were funnier as that kind of guy and we want you as that guy.” I’ve never really been able to be myself as much as I wanted to on a show. I want to be able to draw from all of my stuff and I feel like on this show, they give me a chance. What I like about my career as an actor is that I’m not a famous person, I’m not a star. But in a way I have more of a working popular approach to what I do. The best compliment that you can get is, “You remind me so much of guys I grew up with” and this and that. Michael reminds me of that too. It’s funny because sometimes when you get hired for something, they want to chisel you and make you. But I know what they fucking want. They want Simon Baker. He’s a good looking dude and a good actor, so get him. That’s not me and that’s never what I drew upon to do what I did in life. I think in this show, they let me be. When people start to see people as they see people in their everyday lives, they’ll respond to them as if they feel close to them. I’m really happy that I don’t have to worry about that card, because being that good looking can either really help you or curse you. There’s an element of this that doesn’t feel like it’s removed by three layers of glamour television. It’s accessible in a way. I hope we’ve created a slightly more aesthetically realistic version of that 70’s thing – and not without the gimmick. I think that part of Tarantino’s brilliance is taking things that are familiar to you and putting a darker spin on it. I don’t think that’s what is happening here but if there is a feeling of that kind of show here, I think we’ve achieved something. I remember STARSKY AND HUTCH. It’s pretty generic, you’ve got the blond and dark haired dude. Let them roll. But I don’t think that what we’ve made at the end of the 13 episodes is going to be exactly what maybe everybody thought was going to happen with it. I’m really proud of what it became. For instance, Laura Allen who plays Katie…she knew Britt was a burglar but she didn’t know that he met her because he broke into her pad, saw her picture on the fridge, and thought, “Never mind, this girl is hot.” When she finds out, at the end of the scene, you think she is pissed and then she’s like, “Climb back in the window in 5 minutes.” She plays it so dead on that it reveals the damage in her that you were previously unaware of. Because she was so powerful in that scene, I think it led to what starts to happen with her character later on, because she claimed it.
My real life sister, Karina is in the show as my schizophrenic sister, Stephanie. She’s brilliant. I just think she’s a genius, she’s the best. Actually, Shawn worked with her on LIE TO ME before I worked with Shawn. So it seemed like a really perfect match. There was some line where Michael was giving me a hard time about these rules for Stephanie about no sharp objects and all these things since she’s also a cutter. I call him out on the joke and he starts crying. I knew he didn’t want to do it in the first place. So I was talking to one of the writers, saying imagine coming home to your sister with 120 cuts on her arm. That’s real. That’s blood. You’ve written it. You’ve set the temperature in this pool, now don’t force me to swim in it and fucking pretend it’s funny land. That’s real conversation that happens here all of the time. Both sides are open. That’s why I think our tone is fantastic. As long as the temperature is right, you can go anywhere you want. Just as long as it doesn’t feel like we’re suspending the drama in the process for Bruce Willis to say some cool one liner while 20 men are fighting at his head or whatever it is. I think we fought pretty hard to make something unique and interesting. It will be interesting to see how people read what we’ve done.
Talk about working with Michael Raymond-James.
Because Michael and I are so close, I think Britt and Hank are really close off the bat. So the rules about how you would behave with your best friend apply between us as human beings and as our characters. So when us as characters are asked to violate one of those rules the way that we never would as human beings, it’s always a weird thing. Another interesting thing about Michael is that he is a real Actor’s Studio kind of student of the craft. He really is one of those guys who treats it like he would die if he couldn’t do it. I think for both of us it’s been a good tightening of the screws on what we are doing. Everyday you have an opportunity to do something, so we mine as well go as deep as we can and make it as good as we can. Having him around really helps because he really brings a lot of attention to it.
Sometimes you can do something with people, say a show like this with someone who’s a movie star and feels like they’re caught in a downward spiral. They have to do a television show, they are on the phone all day long, and worrying about the suite they are staying in at the hotel. It happens sometimes. The viewer might not know but they will know because it’s that 15% that seems intercepting but it isn’t. It takes away from that care, dedication, and commitment. I haven’t ever luckily worked in an environment like that though I’ve seen it. It makes a difference. And you know, we wouldn’t allow it because you can’t really float in and be like, “Whatever, I only shoot 2 days on this thing.” We are making something here, dude. Get in line or split. It’s weird when people float in because it’s a happy environment but it’s a focused one.
Hank’s love for his ex-wife is so strong.
Yeah, she gutted me. But it’s good because it’s that thing in life that let’s you move on and get strong, when someone holds down the line.
Talk about working with the cast.
Kimberly Quinn plays my ex wife, Gretchen. In the Pilot, she tells me she’s getting married. I’m hoping a year after the breakup that she’ll come to her sense and we’ll get back together. But she was the adult who made the move. So a lot of what we dealt with this season is her new relationship with her new husband, my relationship with her new husband… and ultimately there’s a real tragic consequence to that. Loren Dean plays her husband and he’s an unbelievably sweet guy and a really good actor. It was interesting because sometimes different groups of people are writing the script and it had been written more antagonistically. But when you do a scene with Kim, she’s really a sweet, old soul intellectual. So it starts to inform the dynamic of the relationship. So we’d never gone down the route of two people barking at each other, largely because she has such a soft approach. So we always adapt to what’s real as opposed to what we are thrown.
Laura Allen who plays Katie is fantastic. I love working with Rockmond Dunbar. He’s a great guy and super duper actor. Our characters have a big history together. His character thought that I had betrayed him in a way which led to my dismissal from the police force. But then he saw that it wasn’t so. In this episode now (note: season finale was being filmed on the day of the set visit), a lot of things come out. To what we do as private investigators, he is crucial to us in being an officer who can operate within the law. And we are crucial to him in the things that we do operating outside of the law. Jamie Denbo is our lawyer. She’s funny. She’s fantastic and incredibly bright.
It’s a weird world for them a little bit I think because myself and Michael are like a two-headed monster doing everything and it’s like they are coming into a basketball game for five minutes and then are gone for two quarters. But they always come in and are awesome when they do their thing. Michael Gaston came in as the big bad guy and he was great. Christopher Cousins [does] a great job as Lindus. Here’s the lowdown. I got fired years ago. I was an alcoholic. Because I was in so deep, I didn’t know what really had gone down. There were a string of rapes and the guy that I had suspected had done them was a super rich kids who was kind of the frat king in college. I realized that my ex-wife had gone to school with him and something had happened between them.
Do you feel a pressure being the lead?
Yeah but it’s a welcome pressure. Clearly I think that a lot of the success or failure of the show, for better or worse will be based on, do you like these two guys? It might be a resounding no (laughs), you know what I mean? But it’s like any sport, you do it because you want the ball. It’s more fun to have it. As an actor who is also a human being, there are certain jobs like Life where I have two kids and I live in Los Angeles. I have been away from my children in San Diego while I have been doing this job, I can see them on Saturdays. And it’s hard. So every once in awhile it’s nice to pepper your life with – well first of all, it’s nice to have a job of any kind. I appreciate the pressure though because guys like George Clooney and Noah Wyle back in the day on ER, they set the tone for the culture of set. If that person is difficult, then everyone else has a license to be difficult and it’s not good. People come on jobs, thinking it’s just a paycheck and it sucks. There’s added responsibilities to it. Directors are kind of visiting, the executive producers are like the Gods, but there’s an additional welcomed responsibility behaviorally to how you set the tone. That being said, in television, the success/failure is the writing. Really great actors can look stupid because of bad shows. Sometimes really great actors are put in really bad situations and put on bad shows and I can hear them on the set saying, “Why would I do this?” So if this show does really well, the only real addition that Michael & I would bring to it is being lucky for Ted and Shawn and Craig Brewer who directed the Pilot for putting in their two cents in thinking that we could be the ones to carry this show.
They created this show and it’s own little circus, it’s its own little culture. A childhood friend visited today and told me he had no idea how long it took, what the process is, and that it was interesting. It’s not really how people would think. It’s a work force of people. That 5am call is standard, whether they you home at 8pm or not. It demands a lot but I was just lucky to get on the show. The casting directors I just love. When someone says, “Hey, what about so and so,” so much of your life and career can change really quickly whether you were privy to that moment or not. I’ve always wanted to work with Shawn and Ted is such a great guy.
There’s a certain amount of talent that people get away with but at the same time, I always think that when you’re performing a scene, whether it goes out around the world or not, basically, you are just performing it for the hundred people standing around. If you’ve alienated all of them, how do you do what you do? This crew is really cool because they really like what we are doing. I know that they go out of their way to try to make the environment for us feel safe. They want us to get messy, cry, whatever.
Can you tell a more concise story in 13 episodes as opposed to 24? Is it more of an advantage as opposed to a disadvantage?
It’s a total advantage. When they try to squeeze 24 episodes out of a season, it’s brutally grueling, especially on the crew. On shows like ER, when the cast and crew are entering the 10 work month, everything is just beaten up a bit. Hopefully what FX has is that there’s no excuse for a tired episode, they are all really tight. It’s nice for an actor because 5 months of your life are deeply absorbed in the show. You don’t have a lot of opportunities to go and do film work in the same year as your doing series work and here you do. That’s a huge advantage. I’m friends with Denis Leary and Michael Chiklis and it would be cool to have that kind of mantle of an FX show like my buddies do. Also Bill Paxton from BIG LOVE. He actually came down to visit during the episode, Fustercluck. It’s fun when everyone is working but it’s hard because you don’t always get to see your friends. Anyway, it’s such a rare opportunity to be handed the keys to this weird vehicle that is a television series when you don’t know if it’s going to be one and out or something that people watch around the world. So it’s an exciting and daunting responsibility.
What happened was I got cast in it and then they started casting everybody. They asked me if I would mind reading with people and that was great because sometimes in other cases they’ll wait until everything is settled. In some cases you are offered the part because of your body of work but what happens when you go on and you’re not the dude? You have to lay it down before they say that you’re not the dude. I would rather be involved and invested in the casting process and reading with who all of the people might be. Also, by the time we shoot the Pilot, I know who I am a lot better than if I just show up. I read and tested with hundreds of people and it was a great experience. As an actor, I know how nerve wrecking it is to be one of four people waiting in the waiting room for the network test. So I made sure to give them my all so that they could have the best scene.
John Landgraf is not only one of the brightest executives I have ever encountered, he is one of the brightest and most articulate human beings I’ve ever met in my life. He is an incredibly smart guy, also really kind, with a vision. That’s why FX is thriving. FX feels like a good place to be.
Tell us about working with Katrina
My sister was thought of for the role initially but the network wanted to have their option of casting who they thought was the best, so she fought for the part. It’s frustrating as an actor because you feel like it’s yours and then you have to go fight for it, when you’re already feeling like you’re on the back ledge. But she got it! I told them, I didn’t think anybody was better anyway. That’s her game, not mine. It’s what she has always wanted to do, I started acting in college. From a very young age, she’s always had this real desire and talent for acting. No one will provoke the kind of emotional response, especially under the circumstance than my sister…which proved to be the case.
What about San Diego?
I love the fact that we are in San Diego because it looks different. Things are very new and it’s fun to share it. I think for viewers it’s cool because it’s a little bit of a break from New York and LA.
What is your favorite episode?
Fustercluck, which Australian director, Michael Offer directed. He’s a great guy and a great director. It was a little brutal because there were millions of takes. Her produced 5x as much footage as anyone else but it gave him options and he created a great episode. He really knows how to tell a cinematic story.
Are you tuning in to watch TERRIERS? Tonight’s new episode, “Dog & Pony,” is another fantastic one. Check it out at 10/9c on FX!