EXCLUSIVE: Kevin Alejandro Takes Us Into the Southland
Kevin Alejandro talks about the TNT police series and his new role on True Blood
Kevin Alejandro has put together an impressive list of guest-starring roles on some of the biggest TV series, such as 24, NCIS and Heroes just to name a few, but every TV actor surely strives to be a series regular and Alejandro achieved just that on Southland, which airs on Tuesday nights at 10 PM ET at its new home, TNT. Alejandro plays gang detective Nate Moretta in the series and this week's upcoming episode, Two Gangs, prominently features Alejandro and his partner Sammy (Shawn Hatosy), which builds up to the brand new unseen episodes of Southland start on March 2. I had the chance to speak with Alejandro over the phone about his role in the series, and what's to come, and here's what he had to say.
It's been kind of an insane ride for you guys, I imagine. You get canceled and there was this overwhelming fan support that I saw on Twitter and then you get picked up again. How has this ride been for you guys, with everything that's happened?
Kevin Alejandro: You know, it's been an emotional, weird trip (Laughs). But it's been great just to see all the support. That's when you know you have something good, when everyone is on board and the change is a good change. It's hard when you don't have a job and when you know you have something going, but I think it all happened for the right reasons, at the right time, and I hope that we'll be around for awhile.
The stuff I've been hearing is that they're not going to make a decision on whether or not to film new episodes until after these new episodes air on TNT. Is that still the case, or have you heard anything more about that?
Kevin Alejandro: Yeah. I haven't heard any specifics, but I have heard that we're doing well. TNT is happy with what we're already producing, so everything looks good.
You're mainly seen with Shawn Hatosy, who I've been a big fan of for awhile. This last episode and the upcoming episode focus on you two more as well. What has it just been like working with Shawn this whole time?
Kevin Alejandro: I'm in the same boat, man. I'm a Shawn Hatosy fan myself. I love that guy. I learn so much from him. He's so natural and so real, and just so cool. From Day One, we just sort of fit, all of the sudden. We're so different from one another but yet the same. It's weird. Like you said, in these episodes you're really going to see who these guys are, and how they fit as characters and who they really are.
As far as these new unaired episodes, six or seven of them, I believe, that you produced, what can we expect from these two characters in this new set of episodes?
Kevin Alejandro: Oh man. There's not a whole lot I can tell you, unfortunately, but there's some great stuff and stuff you're not going to expect. Things will happen and you'll go, 'What the...' but it's all great stuff. It's deep and smart and that's what makes our show so great, it has depth.
After this first set of episodes aired on NBC and you were filming this second set in L.A., how did the community respond to you guys when you were out shooting in L.A.?
Kevin Alejandro: Believe it or not, man, we were pretty well accepted. Just to come into those places, you're automatically on edge because you're really there, they really put you in those places. To me, it was really great. I remember one night we were shooting in these housing projects in L.A., we were shooting at this one unit in particular and there are all these people outside watching, interested in what's going on. A couple of guys walked up to Shawn and I and said, 'Yo, you guys ever want to come back to my neighborhood, you're with me. You guys are always welcome here.' They were very accepting. You know, obviously we're not trying to paint anybody in a horrible light, we're just trying to show the reality of the situations. We're trying to show it from their perspective too and they were really cool about just being in their world for a bit.
I know you guys work a lot with actual LAPD officers. Can you talk about your work with them and how they consult you on how to do your job for the show?
Kevin Alejandro: Yeah, it's great, it's a great thing to have. First of all, we did a lot of research outside, doing ridealongs and flyalongs in the helicopters and seeing how their routines are and how they deal with situations in the real thick of it. Some of the background people that we have, they're all reformed gang members as well. We have both sides of the spectrum there, which adds an interesting environment there. You have these ex-gang members and you have these off-duty police officers and detectives and it's just really interesting because we can get an answer on both sides. If I have a question about anything, I can get an answer from either side. It's a great thing to have and I love it. It's another thing that makes the show real and true.
I know for some of the episodes they use real cases or real crimes that were ripped from the headlines. Do we get more of that in these new episodes as well?
Kevin Alejandro: Definitely, man, definitely. You know, (creator) Ann (Biderman) does a great job with... I mean, that's another great thing about having all these guys on the set with us, because they all have a story. They all have seen things that a person doesn't normally want to ever have to see. They all have a story and Ann's ears are always open. A lot of the stories that we're coming up with are definitely true.
If these new episodes do well and the show is picked up, what are some of the things you'd like to see happen with your character? Do you have a wish list at all for your character, or Shawn's, in the future?
Kevin Alejandro: Oh man. Well, first of all, I hope we'll always continue to be partners throughout the seasons. I'd like to see a lot more undercover, being right in the thick of it, a lot more of that stuff.
You just signed on for True Blood not too long ago as well. If you guys are picked up, will that pose any kind of a conflict? Will they both be shooting at the same time?
Kevin Alejandro: No, dude. I think the way it works out is they sort of offset each other, where I just finish one and then I pick up with the other one. So far, that's been the way it's been working and I think they're working it out, so it's great for me (Laughs).
Back-to-back work. You've got to love that.
Kevin Alejandro: Yeah, I have no complaints about that. I think that's just how it works, it's just back-to-back.
I take it you've already started working on this new season of True Blood then?
Kevin Alejandro: Yeah, man. I started about a week and a half ago. It's going fantastic. They are very cool people to work with.
This show has quite a big following. What are your hopes for this character and what has it been like working with Alfre Woodard and Nelsan Ellis?
Kevin Alejandro: Nelsan is another awesome guy and a great actor, one of those guys who I respect. He's an actor's actor, smart, funny, great with improv and the thing about him is he's totally different from his character. He's a man's man and he's just cool. Alfre is just awesome, man. She gives so much to everything that she does and it's great. I've had a nice welcome there. There's not much more I can tell you about that, other than I play Nelsan's love interest, which makes it great because it's completely opposite of Nate Moretta. I get to play two very different dudes.
You also appeared in a film called The Legend of Hell's Gate and there looks to be quite a cast there. What can you tell us about that film?
Kevin Alejandro: That was a great experience. I shot that in Texas and this guy, Tanner Beard, the director of it, is from my same hometown. There's something about this town I'm from called Snyder, Texas. I'm from there, Tanner, Powers Boothe and we're all from this little town in Texas. He came to me and said he's doing this Western. It's called The Legend of Hell's Gate and it's how Hell's Gate got it's name. It's all historical and it's just a great Western. We went out there, shot guns, rode horses and just had fun.
Can you talk about your character in that film?
Kevin Alejandro: Yeah. I play a guy named August Edwards. He is an ex-Confederate soldier who just left and started his own little posse of guys, bounty hunters. We're hired to go find this guy named Champagne Charlie Austin. Back in those days, that part of Texas was known for trading and... I can't give away too much, but I have to go turn him in and it all goes awry and it all turns into a big gunfight at the O.K. Corral kind of thing. It's a great group of people and I got to see some of the dailies and it looks awesome.
Is that set for release later this year then?
Kevin Alejandro: Yeah, it's a fall feature, I think. We have high hopes for this one. I think it's going to be great.
Kevin Alejandro: Continue to watch and hope that Southland is picked up. The new episodes, for the audience who has seen this first half of the season already, the new stuff is so explosive, so endearing and such a great continuance to what we started. I'm just hoping it sticks.
Excellent. That's about all I have for you, Kevin. Thanks so much for your time, and best of luck with all your new projects.
Kevin Alejandro: All right, great. Thanks a lot, Brian.
You can watch Kevin Alejandro as Detective Nate Moretta in the new episode of Southland that digs deeper into both Morreta and Sammy's characters, Two Gangs, which airs on Tuesday, February 3 at 10 PM ET on TNT. Brand new episodes of Southland will debut on Tuesday, March 2 at 10 PM, also on TNT.