AfterElton chats with “Southland” star Michael Cudlitz about his gay character on the TNT drama
When NBC inexplicably canceled the cop drama Southland before airing a single episode this season, I felt deep disappointment because I loved the show and was very eager to see how the storyline for the character of gay cop John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) would unfold.
AfterElton.com editor Michael Jensen chatted with the outspoken Cudlitz at the Television Critics Assn. press tour this week about his role and about the show shifting over to TNT after it was dumped by NBC.
Here is an excerpt:
Did you know at that point that he was a gay character?
MC: Absolutely. I knew from day one. That was the heterosexual joke. When I thought I was playing Russell, I was like, “Yes! I get to play a detective and wear great shoes and nice suits and I get the girl, a different girl in every episode.”
And then they say, “You’re playing John.” I’m in a car all day with another dude, in a vest, in the uniform all day in the middle of summer, and I don’t get the girl. [laughs] And not only do I not get the girl, I get the guy! [laughs] I was like, “Come on! That’s not fair! That’s not what I signed up for!” But all that being said, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I hope that they continue in the way they are advancing. I hope that they use a very realistic moment of confidence or something that happens, so that when it does come out to the audience that he’s in a relationship or there’s some issue with that, I hope it comes across in a very natural way, and not contrived. “Tonight we’ve got a very special Southland, where we find out about John Cooper. John Cooper’s past catches up with him.”
And I don’t think they will. From everything I’ve been told, we’ll find out about the thing that made him who he is as a person, and the things that got in the way of him realizing what his sexuality was, the things that stopped him from not even exploring, the things that didn’t allow him to deal with it. The things every kid dealing with his sexuality deals with in Middle America. The feelings he was having, not knowing what those things were, having such an abusive father, and having that aggression in the house, and what it meant to be a man in his house. So much of his emotional world had to be shut down.
AE: The two things folks are most curious about are your relationship with Ben and what we might learn about your personal life in the new episodes.
MC: What I can tell is that obviously our relationship grows and deepens and we learn more about each other. My sexuality is nothing that we’ve been hiding from, but we just haven’t gone in that direction. They do go a little more and it really does unfold like it did in the first season.
You’ll see. I think the one thing that will happen that you’ll see, it will be very clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that John is gay. Because there are apparently some people out there that are still unaware that John Cooper is gay. Which is pretty hilarious that they think. Because yeah, that’s a cop bar and that’s John’s buddy.