Exclusive Interview with Southland’s Shawn Hatosy!

If you can believe it (I hardly can), Southland is back tonight at 10/9c with a brand-new season. With last season’s big moment still spinning around in my head, I can hardly wait to see what happens next.

As a little teaser, I was able to talk to Southland star Shawn Hatosy, who plays Sammy on the show. He tells us a little about what we can expect from his precarious partnership with Ben, his crazy ex Tammi, and what keeps Sammy going.

southland23082_001_0024_RFirst of all, I am in a weird state of both disbelief and absolute excitement that we’re already starting the fifth season. It feels like this show just ended and now its back and I’m just so excited.

Well, thank you. I’m excited, too.

Anything you can tease us about the coming season?

Well, you can see in the first two episodes…I know that they sent out some kind of screener. Were you able to see any of it?

Yeah, I saw the first episode.

Oh cool. Well, so you know, that season five Southland, Ben and Sammy are still riding in the car together. Michael’s character, John Cooper, is… his partner from last season has left, and he’s riding with a new boot who is an Iraqi [War] veteran, at least for the first two episodes, that’s what’s going on with him. And then Lydia is still riding with Reuben. Last season, Sammy and Ben had a situation that created a ton of tension and conflict in their relationship where Ben went after this pimp off-duty, and the pimp ended up getting killed. I think Sammy is still questioning if the protocol that Ben used was the right one… There’s a ton of tension still in the car with these guys and here we are. It’s season five, and we’ll kick it off.

It’s very clear in the season opener that the partnership we see between Ben and Sammy since last season at the beginning is completely different than what we see at the beginning of this season. How is that going to play out over the course of the season?

?????????Well, I think that what the writers have done a nice job of is creating a character in Ben Sherman who started out as this very wide-eyed rookie who thought he was going to come in and save the city in this very heroic manner, but the job has changed him. He has some skeletons in his closet from his past that are surfacing, so he’s become a character who is willing to do things that are a little bit more suspect as far as police work, and he keeps climbing, and he keeps being rewarded for this kind of behavior. Whereas Sammy is this guy who is inherently a decent guy, and I’m not saying he doesn’t make mistakes or is a perfect cop, but… I don’t think the job will change him. I think he’s been around long enough and that’s the way he’s going to stay. And I think the contrast between the two characters is significant…

The contrast is really great. I was also very excited to see that Tammi’s back in the picture. She always adds a great point of drama for Sammy. I’m curious to know what’s going to happen with that? What can we expect? Is there going to be craziness? What can we look forward to?

There is some craziness, and I enjoy that aspect of the story. It’s always been one of the things that attracted me to Southland in the first place… That we get to see these guys when they go home and what their lives are like, because let’s be honest, that’s how characters develop. It’s not just about solving crime. So, I think that Tammi and Sammy have had a history, a very dysfunctional relationship, but they did decide to have a kid together… but they’re no longer together, and as Sammy and everybody else in Los Angeles knows, Tammi is a little bit unstable and irrational. So now she’s with the kid, and I think that Sammy feels a lot of guilt and responsibility. He’s very worried about his son being with Tammy so as the season progresses there is the threat that he may lose to her in custody battle. Sammy’s always been very good about compartmentalizing work and his personal life, but it starts to really bleed into the work and it goes so far…that his career becomes slightly in jeopardy.

?????????You mentioned this earlier, and I’d love for you to expand on it. You’re exactly right; Sammy’s one of the most decent, caring characters on the show. What do you think keeps him going?

I just think that he has this center… From the pilot you can see that when it came to these kids who were gangsters in this really dark world and not being able to come forward and talk about what they’ve seen. To me, it breaks my heart as the actor and that was actually what I connected to in the pilot. I always go back to that when I decide what his motives are and what his point of view is. He always looks through things with that lens.

Are there any other projects that you’re working on that you wanted to talk about for us to keep an eye out for?

For me right now it’s just this. I’m very proud of the show. I’m glad it’s still on, and I’m glad that TNT has given us a season five. The four main actors and Christopher Chulack, our executive producer and director, we love doing this. It’s a lot of fun. I appreciate it. I can’t imagine being more satisfied than I am on Southland.

As a viewer, I’m loving every minute, so thank you so much.

Thank you.


Don’t forget to catch Shawn Hatosy tonight when Southland returns at 10/9c on TNT!

*images courtesy of TNT