“I didn’t know why I liked it so much,” says actor Michael Pena when asked about his initial reaction to the script to “End of Watch.” "I knew that it was different, but it wasn’t until that second or third read that I realized it’s not your typical story. It’s really about two brothers. It kind of lives or dies on whether or not you can pull that off. Most cop stories aren’t like that.”
“End of Watch” follows two LAPD officers (Pena and Jake Gyllenhaal) as they navigate a dangerous drug cartel. The two officers share a kinship that transcends partnership, each willing to risk his life for the safety of the other.
Pena and Gyllenhaal both underwent months of intense training to prepare for their roles, going through their own police academy. “We had five months of it. We went for like thirty ride alongs, maybe more. The pressure puts people together, and you really have to look out for each other.”
The film has been praised for it’s gritty, guerrilla-style filmmaking, something that made Pena nervous at first. “It was scary at first because I wasn’t sure we were getting everything. After the first week it was quite freeing because I was able to just get really comfortable with it. If they get it, they get it. If they don’t, they don’t. Lo and behold, they actually got way more than I thought they were gonna get.”
Pena's performances recently earned him an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He spoke with Gold Derby about the film:
Film: Tom O'Neil (Gold Derby) only one to go 5/5
Film: See how you scored