Ben McKenzie Q&A: ‘Southland’
For Officer Ben Sherman, his whole life was turned in a different direction when he was paired up with new partner Sammy Bryant on the TNT drama series "Southland." For actor Ben McKenzie, who plays Sherman on the show, it also meant no longer working very much with Michael Cudlitz but tons more screentime with Shawn Hatosy. Based on the third season finale, the fourth and most recent season had to make the change.
In a video interview with senior editors Rob Licuria and Chris Beachum, McKenzie said, "Not only did I pass along from my probationary period into being a full-fledged officer, but I also confronted him (Cudlitz) about his drug addiction and literally drove him to the hospital. It was somewhat expected but still very exciting."
The raw and authentic police drama has had an interesting television history. The first season aired on NBC, and the network renewed it for a second season. Producers John Wells and Christopher Chulack filmed a few new episodes, but then it was decided that Jay Leno's new variety series would consume all of the 10pm weeknight slots, and the show no longer had a home at NBC. TNT snatched up the completed episodes and made a commitment for even more.
Before "Southland," McKenzie's breakthough role was in 2003 as Ryan Atwood, a troubled teen adopted into a wealthy family, on the popular series "The O.C." Many younger actors have had difficulty transitioning into more adult roles, but McKenzie has prevailed. He said, "Luck would be the big driver, and a bit or work, and a smidgen of talent. I was a little bit blessed that I was playing 17 but I was 23, 24 years old at the start of 'The O.C.,' so I pretty much look the way I looked then, and I sound pretty much the way I sounded then. I like to think I've progressed as an actor, but people didn't have to suddenly shake the snow globe again and reconfigure it."