Warren Kole talks Common Law Series Premiere on USA
Common Law is about two cops with a problem: Each other. Despite their differences, they are incredible detectives. When things come to a head during their "seven-year itch" as partners, their captain forces them into couples' therapy to save their "work marriage." Despite being an odd couple, Travis Marks (Michael Ealy) and Wes Mitchell (Warren Kole) are incredible at what they love most, enforcing the law, and have a seven-year track record as the LAPD's best detectives in the Robbery-Homicide Division. As their constant bickering begins to have a major impact on their work, their new-age captain (Jack McGee) sends them to couples' therapy to bring back the flame in their relationship. Tough-as-nails therapist Dr. Ryan (Sonya Walger) is brought in to help them understand and resolve their conflicts and confront their demons in order to enhance their ability to work together solving crimes.
Common Law kicks things off starting tonight, Friday, May 11th, with Episode 1.01: Pilot. To celebrate the launch of what is sure to become another iconic USA series, we caught up with actor Warren Kole for a little one-on-one face time.
Here is our conversation.
Who are some of the directors you have in Season 1, and how are they helping to shape this into another iconic USA Network series?
Warren Kole: Sure. We had a great variety of directors, but they all lent their own flare to each episode. They were very game to let the cast, me and Michael Ealy in particular, do what we like to do. Across the board, they all had their visions, and they stuck to them. But Michael Ealy and I were allowed to play as much jazz as we wanted. It took a lot of courage. Dermot McDowns directed an episode that was really tight. He was the guy who came in and really knew what he wanted. He made a really good episode. It's the one that airs right after the pilot. The man that directed the finale, John Barron, basically made an opera in a week. It was really intense, it was hard work. But we stayed focused, and he did too. We put this thing together, and it's a really tight finale. It covers a lot of past and present, and it has flashbacks. It's funny and dramatic, and redemptive. There is some great stuff going on. Aaron Lipstadt did great work for us. Uh...God, I wish I had all of their names in front of me. They are swimming around. I can't say that a bad or uninterested director came in. Once we started working together, they were all pretty excited about playing with us.
Did you guys find an overall groove that works for the show? Something that you will adhere to in future seasons?
Warren Kole: I think so. As we went, and as we were able to settle down, we had a really interesting first season. There was a lot going on, and a lot to negotiate. Like any show. But once we were able to find our legs, and get them under us, this show found a great tone. There is no effort anymore. Because we are so comfortable, and often times, too exhausted, to fight. Or to put up any walls, anymore. You are just there. It is still funny, it is still dramatic. And the procedure is still there. It all blends together with the therapy. The scenes start to disappear, and there is no compartmentalizing in the show anymore. You are just hanging out with these guys and rooting for them, no matter what situation they are in. As the show goes on, and it succeeds, there is a relaxation that happens. Everyone involved can just let it happen like it did in the previous six or seven episodes. I have watched some of these episodes. They are fun. They have a charm to them that is effortless. We have found our pocket. We know where we are going in a second season. Once you find these guys, there is no need to hit you over the head with who they are. Just let them be, and they will shine.
USA has a reputation for these hit shows that so perfectly blend comedy and drama. Was there a specific secret formula that they presented to you from the outset? Or is this something that you and Micheal just found amongst yourselves, working through these first couple of scripts?
Warren Kole: As I understood it...I am just the actor being brought in. I am not privy to the inside formula, but they clearly know what they are doing when It comes to creating these character driven shows...I think it was, "Let's bring in the talent, and have them show us what we want. We'll know it when we see it." It was an extensive process. I was auditioned for months. There was a lot of back and forth with them. There was a lot of ways to show them how to play the character before they came around and said, "This is going to work." Afterwards, there is a trust. They trust us implicitly. They got their horses, they are going to let them run. Michael Ealy and I never had to sit down and talk about what kind of cheese we liked to get to know each other better. We just trusted that this chemistry was there. We were very serious about what we wanted for our characters. It's funny when you put these guys together. When you put these stories underneath these characters. And it did deepen as we got to know these characters on set.
The idea for the show is so perfect. Is this something you've heard about before you became a part of the show? I hadn't heard about bringing to co-workers together in couples therapy. Do they ever do this with actors on a show who aren't getting along?
Warren Kole: This is such an extreme, radical idea. It challenges the ego so much. Actors? It would be tough to convince a couple of actors to do this, I think. The same way its tough to make Wes and Travis go. They have to go against their will, or they wouldn't do it. They are court ordered to analyze themselves. Which makes it funnier. It gives the show somewhere to go as we break through, into these guys. But I have never heard of it. Maybe it will start a fad.
It very well could. I don't think that statement is so far removed from the truth. Is there going to be any group therapy? Do you all go somewhere for a couple's retreat?
Warren Kole: It is a good idea. I think we have batted the idea of bringing the captain into the therapy room. We will all go on a company retreat somewhere. That sets up a great scenario. We all love Sonya Walger so much, we want to integrate her as much as possible. She brings so much more to the show. There are a few ideas we've batted around. There are some good ideas, but lets wait until we get a little further down the road before we explore some of this stuff. But that was one of those ideas...
I know this is more of a question for the writers, but where do you guys pull these cases from? Are these based on real cases that come up in the news? Or are the writers making a lot of this up as they go along?
Warren Kole: Um...This is something the writers would know more about. We all sat down before the series started, Michael Ealy and myself, the producers, and the writers, and we were batting around ideas...What if? They would write the idea down on a big dry erase board. You might see some of these ideas pop up later, like, "What if our therapist goes with us for a ride along in one of the episodes? She watches us work, and we are looking for her approval." That was a good idea, and sure enough, a few weeks down the road, there is an episode about the ride along. Then, suddenly, there comes an episode that came out of nowhere. Maybe it just happened. Maybe it was a bolt of lighting while they were thinking. These cases are quirky. A lot of these cases have quirks to them that might be ridiculous, but they are grounded by the characters, and the fact that Wes and Travis treat them sincerely. They are challenged by them. And you want these guys to win by the end of the episode. That makes it a fun ride.
USA is also a network known for reviving the crossover episode. Are we going to see Wes and Travis commingling with characters from another USA show in season 1? Or are you guys saving that for further down the road?
Warren Kole: I think I can answer that...No. We are still our own universe in this first season. We are not going to have any incestuous relationships with other USA shows just yet. But it would be cool. I think Wes and Travis will bounce nicely off a lot of these other cannons that are on the network.
I think Psych would be a good fit. I'd watch that.
Warren Kole: That would be funny! I know Wes would be frustrated to no end with those two!