From the Set: NECESSARY ROUGHNESS’ Mehcad Brooks talks hot tubs, Terrell Owens, and PTSD

As a part of the trip we took to Atlanta last month to tour the set of NECESSARY ROUGHNESS, we had the great opportunity to chat with Executive Producer Kevin Dowling, as well as series stars Mehcad Brooks, Scott Cohen, and Callie Thorne.

NECESSARY ROUGHNESS is back on USA, premiering June 6 at 10/9c. A group of us had a chance to chat Season 2 with Mehcad Brooks – he covered the gamut of topics from hot tub scenes, Terrell Owens, and the PTSD that TK suffers as a result of his shooting last season. Check it out!

Kevin was telling us when you came back for this season you were in better shape than you were in the first season.  Did you do something different in your time off?
Yeah, I, uh, well I mean last season was, was kind of unfair to me because I couldn’t, I couldn’t work out, ‘cause I got in a really bad car accident.  So I, I, uh, did the best that I could, but you know, I was on you know, a lot of medication and steroids, [lot of issues?], so like there was, there wasn’t a lot I could do.  You know, I couldn’t even work out.  So this year, I, oh my goodness.

[our friend Rosy shows a shot she took in TK’s bathtub on set] I told you.
You were all up in the bathtub.  Stalker, bathtub.  Um, but with this year, that, this year about, about uh, two months out, I, I worked out with um, some pro guys and pro bowlers uh, some guys who uh, train, uh Olympiads and so I, I just took it really seriously and, and because now I have the, the physical opportunity to do so, you know, um I’m not playing around.

We were told you’d have more scenes with TO this year.  Does that relationship get ramped up?
You know what, um, it, it sort of gets, it did yes.  It gets ramped up a lot and then what happens is, it sort of gets um, rectified all, all in the same swoop.  So it’s kind of nice, he becomes likable all of a sudden.  I think it’s good for TO.  Um, I, I mean that in a, in a actually nice way.  Because he’s a nice guy.  But his public persona you know, is what it is.  But if you know him, if you meet him, he’s actually a very misunderstood.  I think he’s very shy, and what happens is he comes off in a protective way and it’s, it’s uh, unbefitting of his personality because he’s actually a really nice guy.  Believe it or not.

Vivica was missing from episode one.
Look here bathroom stalker.  Don’t be looking at me like that.

Vivica was missing from the premiere.  Is that the last of her?
Uh, yes I’m afraid so.  I’m afraid so, her body floats [up in the Hudson].  I’m kidding.  Nico, what um…  Sorry.

Do you have trouble keeping your new name straight?
No yeah.  Of course, and, and there is a pimp cup coming.  Um, you know what, yeah it was, I mean I, I was actually the one keeping the KT going and the show was like, forget it.  I was like, what you mean?  I’m like, I like it.  So um, it, it we don’t keep it for the whole season, but you know it is, it was kind of strange.  At first I was like KT, I’m like, this is ridiculous.  And then I got this new uh, blinged out chain that says TK, and I was like this is the wrong chain.  You’ll ordered this chain like a month before I changed my name.  But props didn’t give a shit about it.  They’re like, so, yeah.  So anyway yeah, we don’t, we don’t keep it the whole time.  Don’t believe anything Scott said.

Scott said that the relationship between Nico and TK is going to evolve into something like a father figure.
Yeah I call it Teko.  TK and Nico.  Um, you know what I’m saying, like Bradgelina, you know, without the sex.  Um, I think that uh, I think you know, it’s, it’s cool because it’s like TK finally has, has a maternal figure in his life uh, in, in sort of his sisters, well in [Doc and Danny?].  Um, and he’s never had that and then uh, you know, he does need a positive male figure in his life.  And Nico is, is the only guy with the patience and probably the training to handle uh, uh someone’s attitude as large as TK’s.  So.  I mean the guy doesn’t listen to anybody but Nico really so.  There you go.

Did you do any research into PTSD?
Yes I did.  I did a lot actually um, I got a couple friends who’ve come back from Afghanistan and Iraq, um, with some issues.  And uh, one guy was actually um, blown up by a grenade and uh, we knew each other for 16 years, 17 years.  And um, one of my best friends he’s like a brother to me and uh, we work together, I got him a job on My Generation as our military coordinator.  And, and he’s just a great guy, just a fantastic guy.  13 surgeries later, make a long story short, he’s walking, he’s running, he’s back you know, um, as part of the population physically.  And uh, that’s a great phone call.  Um, I uh, so, so I’ve seen it firsthand.  And I’ve been able to talk to him about it and he, and he’s been strong enough to open up to me about it and um, you know, I, I, want to portray it as serious as possible.

As accurately.
As accurately as possible because it, it’s, it’s a uh, under discussed subject and it’s something that you know, 2 million Americans are, are going to have to deal with actively themselves not to mention the toll it’s going to take on families and friends and so on and relationships and, and jobs and so on and so forth.  And we don’t have any sort of you know, and the thing is, I think no one really wants to see soldiers going through it because we have this sort of war fatigue and we have this insulation, we haven’t even paid for the war you know.  Taxes, like we have, we’re completely insulated from it, and um, I think when it’s coming from an athlete or a football player, somebody that we see every day and that we, that we, that we allow into our home every day, it’s different, you know.  And so I hope that maybe you know, I got, I have athletes who come up to me and say hey, that, what you did was real, you know, it was realistic.  And I hope that one of these days I’ll have a soldier come up to me and say, you know what, I went through that, my family went through that.  And thank you for taking it seriously because it really affected us and um.  So it’s not something that I, that I, I, I make light of.  Not that part of it.  Yeah, so.

Thank you for that.
You’re welcome.

I love the way it’s being portrayed.
Thank you, thank you very, uh, I just got goose bumps, thank you very much.  ‘Cause it, that’s, that’s what I, you know, that’s one part of TK that I can’t laugh at.  You know, and this one I’ve seen it first hand and I, you know, and I, I’ve been there for guys who have gone through it and um, you know I went through it in some ways, in my life.  You know, you don’t have to go to war to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I’ve, I, I lost a family member, I lost my brother when I was, when I was uh, 19 and he was 17.  And um, you know, you, you react in the way that you do.  You just react in the way that you do.  And um, there’s no wrong answer for it, there’s no right answer for it, but, but there’s, there’s ways of healing holistically that I think that we can as a nation, that we can embrace our sons and daughters that way, and, and have them know that they’re welcome to come back.  That’s what they need, they just need love.  And, understanding and patience.  So I, I hope that we can touch on it a little bit.

Is your character going to face this head on or fight longer with it in the background?
Well it’s, in real PTSD, it’s, you don’t know you have it.  So um, you, you deny, you go through, you know withdrawal of what, what the situation was, you, you have nightmares about it, you, you um, you start to beat yourself up, you, you become a hermit.  There’s all types of different things that, that happen, this sort of several different stages.  Um, and, and there’s a lot of debate on it clinically what, what those stages are.  But, a lot of it has to do with manic depression, and bipolar and all these things that start, start to open up in your brain.  Um, so yeah, he, he goes through the same I think stages that most people would if, if they come to this near death experience and, and they, they come to terms with uh, their, their own mortality.  You know.  Which we don’t on a day to day basis.  Thank God.  I mean most of us.  You know.

How is it for you to portray such a serious arc, as an actor, normally playing such an upbeat character from last season?
Challenging.  But it’s uh, it’s uh, that’s what I got into this business for is to be challenged.  Um, if, if, you know if I, if I um, I love this job because it’s varied in that way.  You know, and one minute which is great about CK, one minute you can have him in a scene where he’s on the verge of tears and like not knowing what’s going on in his life and then, then really sort of losing grip of who he is.  And then the next moment he’s having a Twitter war.  Like he’s a 12 year old.  And, and um, that’s fun to play, but sometimes when you’re shooting both scenes in the same day it’s, you know, can you put that one first please.  Please, you know.  So, it’s, it’s interesting.  Um, it’s, but it’s a lot of fun.  It is, it’s uh, it’s fun to be challenged.

Are we going to see any new love interests?
Uh, you know what, to quote Sammy Davis Jr.  You must love yourself first.  You know.  To quote another black Jew.

Out of quotes?
No that was him.  Um, history lesson.

Where will TK be mentally when the shooter comes back?
Um, where the hell is TK mentally anyway.  Um, you know what, when the shooter does come back, we, we haven’t actually discussed where TK’s going to be mentally at that point in time I can’t answer that question right now.  I know that, I know that you know, in, in real situations that, that could, that could either cause a relapse or either cause a breakthrough.  And uh, you know, since we got 16 episodes to do, I hope it causes a relapse.  That way we don’t run into shit, you know do.  You know.

Ready for another hot tub scene.
You know.  We will add another hot tub scene just for you my friend.

I heard you aren’t a shy guy?
No I’m not.  I was, I was a naked baby.  And I don’t mean born naked, ‘cause I think all of us were.  But I mean like, anytime that my parents tried to put clothes on me, I just, I’d just throw them off.  The grocery stores, whatever, didn’t matter.

Stay comfortable anytime.  We’ll make the hot tub scene right here.
You’re good.

Will you go into TK’s past and some of his family members while he goes through this?
We, we do go back to his old neighborhood, um, you know, he doesn’t really know his family.  He, he was a foster kid at nine years old, so you know, he, I, uh, only child, mom’s passed on, father he doesn’t know so, you, you see the closest thing to family that he has um.  I think it’s episode like 203 to 204 or something like that, but it’s, it’s great, it’s great and he, he goes back to his old neighborhood and hides out for a couple episodes and uh, you know, gets, gets into some shenanigans, some funny stuff and some not so funny stuff actually.  And uh, you know, he’s uh, he, it’s weird because he after, especially after almost losing his life, he kind of doesn’t know where he belongs, you know, professionally.  It’s almost as if, wow, maybe you know I catch a ball for a living.  Is that important?  I don’t know.  He starts to question everything.  Um, maybe I just want to go home and, and just be around people who love me for, for being Terry King.  Not, not, not the King.  You know.  And so he, he’s kind of doesn’t fit into either world.  And um, doesn’t really know where to go.  So.  He goes through that for a little while as well.  And so that’s when you kind of meet the people who are in his past.

Are we going to see more fun stuff with Terrance and Dr. Dani’s kids?
Right.  Um, I hope so.  I, I really enjoy working with them, I think they’re so talented.  They’re, really, really talented, hard working kids and, I shouldn’t even call them kids, they’re adults.  They’re, they’ll hate me for calling them kids.  Um, you know, I, I don’t think I would’ve been ready for what they’re doing at 18, 19, 20.  So I have a lot of respect for them.  Yeah.  Actually I know I wasn’t.  I know I wasn’t.

Do you base the TK antics on anybody in particular, it reminds me of TO.  Was that informed by the script?
I can, hey Brad.  I can talk about who it’s actually based on right?  Okay.  So it’s actually based on Keyshawn Johnson.  Who I don’t know from a can of paint.  So, I based it on other guys that I know in the league, TO not being one of them.  Um, ‘cause I didn’t know TO all that well before we started working together.  And I based it on my dad who was a wide receiver in the 70’s and 80’s when you know, cocaine was a performance enhancing drug.  You know, and it was okay.  And um, you know those were wild times and different times in the NFL and um, I, I got to see some of it first hand as a kid and, and I based, and then also based some of it on myself in my young 20’s.  Like you know, but what if I had 85 million dollars and I was that stupid?  You know.  So it’s kind of, in some ways, it’s like which film did I come into work and just being a dick and getting away with it.  ‘Cause I’m actually kind of nice in person I think at least.  To myself.

You love yourself?
Not really.  Mostly.

How do you get into that mindset of being so arrogant?
I wake up.  I like to pretend that I’m arrogant, I don’t think I am really.  Um, how do you get into that mindset?  You know what it is, it’s actually TK and I are really different.  Like he, he’s not even a dude I would hang out with.  Tell you the truth.  Um, but I’ve known guys like that and it’s just about really you know, taking five minutes to believe your hype and he you just, if you thought you were God’s gift to insert noun, you know, then that’s how you act.  There’s no boundaries, you’re on, you’re put on a pedestal by, by society, so that means you’re above the societal mirror which means you can’t even really look at yourself, in, in a realistic light.  Um, you know, I know people who, who are this famous and they read the tabloids and, and they obsess about what people are saying about them and, and I’m just like, god that is, that is tough.  That’s got to be really, really tough.  And um, so I, I just, I just you know, you just have to accept them and, and go, go there and act like you know, you know, it’s weird.  It’s just taking my personality, a piece of it, and uh, and just um, I don’t know, injecting it with anabolic steroids.  Not literally.

Can you talk about actually playing the football scenes?
Yeah sure.

How did you prepare for that and how did you feel about those scenes?  
Uh, well I pulled my hamstring in the pilot which means I was like man I am such an actor.  This is crazy.  Like I’m, I’m just Hollywood as hell.  And so, ‘cause, and there I was sitting on the sidelines rubbing my leg.  Like I couldn’t even do all the stuff that I wanted to do.  So what I came back, and then I got in the car accident, which was bad, so I couldn’t really do a lot.  So this year when I came back I was like you know what, I’m going to do all my stuff, like, I’m going to make my, my stunt doubles look bad.  And um, I’ve done my best.  Like I’ve, I went to, like I said, I, I kind of had my training camp in LA and then I, I, and every chance I get, I, I go up to uh, some surrounding states, Georgia and I work out with some pro bowlers.  And I know what I’m doing now.  And it’s fun.  It’s really fun, sometimes they take the stunt double out and put me in.  Except, except when I get hit.  I mean I ain’t doing that.  You know.

What’s your 40 time?
You know what, I don’t know, ‘cause I had to, the only time that we had, we shot the 40, I, I’d lose it.  And uh, I still, I still, I still was like 5.2, which is pretty good.  I mean for trying to lose.  I would say.

In some ways this is your longest role?
Oh you’re wrong.  What’s that.?

This is your second season, so you’re seeing a longer character.I mean this is, okay so this is the longest season yes, I mean season wise yes.   Desperate Housewives, I did like, I mean we did like 50 every year.  I did like 23 of those.  So I guess that was the most, but I mean this will end up being the most hopefully.

So getting to know a character as well as this current one, are you still learning?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I mean we’re all learning about ourselves, I mean if you can surprise yourself, you don’t really know yourself.  And we can all surprise ourselves, I would imagine.  I hope, I hope.  Um, yes, so it is intriguing having a relationship with this guy because I love him, and I hate him.  And I judge him, and I, and I uh, you know, it’s not all, yeah it’s not all fun and games, because he’s gone through a lot too, you know.  And, and you, you do your best not to take that home with you.  But it is what it is, sometimes you do.  You know.

Did your role on True Blood help you get prepared for some of the darker things that TK has to deal with?
Yeah, I, you know, yeah.

That was a heavy role.
Thank you very much.  Thank you very much, um, it’s, you know what I think that um, yes.  Simply put, but every, every role is, is kind of like a training ground and, and it’s sort of a learning lesson for the next one.  You know, if you’re, if you’re trying to become better, you know, constantly, um, so yeah.  There was a lot, a lot of moments and, and situations that are applicable to this one.  And also but the preparation, so it’s like, what, what I learned that I can, I can apply here mostly is, is how do you prep for that.  You know, how do you prep to be in that sort of darkness or how do you prep to be in, and, and not let it affect your personal life.  So on and so forth.  So and really be true to it.  Um, so yeah, there’s, it, every role informs the next one.  I would hope.

For TO’s returning role, is he going to act more like a catalyst of change to get TK back on track or just dance on his grave?
That’s a good question.  Um, he does a little bit of both actually.  Uh, I don’t want to get too much into it, but the, the Twitter war obviously be with, with the character he plays.  And uh, there’s some really awful things, at least in TK’s world said about him.  And TK, like a grown man, goes to handle it, and um, and shenanigans ensue.  That would, um.

Food fight? 
I was like, you got somebody on the inside.  Who do you work for?  No um.

Was that fun to do?
Well we didn’t, we didn’t do a whole food fight.  Which I’ve done one.  Which is great.  It wasn’t on camera.  It was fantastic though.  But uh, yeah, yeah, it ends up, you know, being a food fight and you know, like, like two grown men.  Over a Twitter war.  Awesome.

There’s been some pretty great guest stars on there, is there anybody you would love to see on the show?
Mm.  I think casting’s doing a great job um.  Anybody I’d like to see?  You know what, just, no, I mean, there’s just so many good actors, like I mean, like this. But even pro football players? I mean, I would love to Aaron Rodgers, you know, and I, I met Aaron at the Superbowl, we, we hung out for a couple days.  He’s a good dude.  Awesome dude, and loves USA, so Aaron if you’re reading this, Aaron if you, if you scouring the blogs for your name.  Come on down.

Have you gotten feedback from NFL players about this?
I have.  I have.  And not always positive.  Some like, man you’re stance is horrible.  Like, come on dog.  I’m like let see how you can do a monologue fool.  I barely understand what you saying right now.  Um, and take that HGH out of your mouth.  Um, something wrong with me.  I mean, and so I mean I’ve had a lot of positive feedback and I’ve had some, and I’ve had some really helpful criticism actually too.  Like, like there was actually a conversation with uh, a, a uh, a very, a very well known wide receiver in, in a nightclub.  And he was helping me with my stance in the nightclub.  And everybody’s dancing around us like we’re in New York and I’m like, alright.  He’s like, he’s like, no, he’s like, he said, the problem is your form is down perfect, he’s like, but you look like a poindexter, he’s like, he’s like, if somebody with that much, a nerd, ‘cause you, ‘cause you did the.  You did the George [Clinton?] when I said that.  Um, he does that, you know, it’s cool it works for him.  Um, it is.  Um, so we were in the club, and like he’s kind of like, like if you have this much swag if you’re a franchise player, he’s like, you would do the form yeah, but then you’d, you know.  I was like, oh I got, I got.  So, TK has a new stance.

Do you think that TK because he believes his own hype, he’d ever want to branch out into something else, like another pro sport?
I, I think TK thinks he can be an astronaut.

Would he actually go do it?
Alright here’s the thing, this is, this is, this is the uh, funny thing about playing a guy like this.  When everything that you’ve done in your life has led up, has been a dream and has led up to achieving that dream, and then you believe that hype, it is, it is hard to even tell yourself no.  That you, like, that you can’t do something um.  And maybe that’s true, I don’t know.  Like, I mean, Jordan did it with, with baseball, and he was actually pretty good.  Maybe I think if he had stuck with it, he probably could’ve went pro, like pro, pro.  Um, I don’t know, like I, it’s, it’s, the thing is I think that his, his reality is so surreal, that yeah, I, I mean I, I could imagine him quitting everything and, and going to be a photographer.  Or quitting everything and, and trying to be an astronaut or, or quitting everything and, and you know, looking for treasure in, in the Pacific Ocean.  I mean he’s crazy.  Like make no mistake about that, he’s crazy.  It’s so fun to play.

Where did you acquire your gift of catching jellybeans?
How did I acquire my gift?  I, when?

It’s, it’s, it’s a highly, it’s a highly honed skill my friend.  Um, I have been, I’ve been throwing stuff into my mouth since, since, yeah laugh it up, chuckle it up.  True story, I’ve been throwing things into my mouth for longer than clear remembrance goes.  I, I literally, I can remember being in elementary school, on the playground, with like candy that fell out of somebody’s mouth, with sand all over it, I’d dust it off and I’m like.  And the girls loved it.  So I was like, I just kept doing it.  I was like, hey icebreaker.  Worked every time.  So I got a lot better at it.  I mean all my life basically.  I’m sure I was throwing my, actually I did win, I was a baby, my mom told me this, true story.  My mother knew I wanted, I was, I was hungry, that I wanted milk because she would always feel me throw the bottle at her.  So, there were certain times when she be, she’d have her back turn to me, and she’d be across the room, and she hit it, she feel it hit her neck.  And she like, and I’m literally like on the other side of the room like.  I’m hungry.  But, didn’t sound like that when I was a baby.  I wasn’t. You know.  That’s great.  Last Q?

Where do you get your inspiration from for this role?
Um.  It started off, you know with, with like, like I said, with my dad, my biological father, I should call him, I call my step dad my dad.  Um, I started off with him, and then it kind of had to take its own life on after that because like you know, that only gives you so much information and so much to start with.  But uh, it, it was rooted in that and then kind of sprouted its own life from there.  So where do I get my inspiration?  You know what, Kanye West actually is somebody that I looked to, that I, I mean, I admire Kanye West.  Period, my personal life, because I think that he’s brilliant, his brilliance can’t be denied, one.  But I think he’s also, he’s been brilliant in business in the fact that he puts up a public persona for everybody to attack while he’s just kind of under the radar living his life the way he wants to while you’re attacking his persona.  So you have no clue who this guy is.  Which I think is amazing.  I think it’s really, really smart.  I mean and you may not like it, but you got to kind of respect how smart that is.  Like you, you never are actually criticizing Kanye West.  You’re criticizing the persona he’s allowing you too.  And uh, I thought that was brilliant and I thought that TK who’s probably not as smart as Kanye West, is trying to do something like that.  But he’s uh, he’s failing.  So he’s just kind of an asshole.