Michael Cudlitz on Last Week’s Brutal “Southland” Episode and Tonight’s Finale

Michael Cudlitz

If you’re like me, you’re still catching your breath over last week’s intensely brutal episode of Southland where Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) and his partner, Lucero (Anthony Ruivivar) were kidnapped and tortured by two meth-heads. Sadly, Lucero didn’t survive but our Cuddlybear did and in this week’s season finale, he tries to get back to work and figure out what’s next.

Cudlitz talked to me earlier this week about last week’s episode – including the tough shoot, the bar scene where Lucero uses the word ‘faggot’ – as well as what we can expect in the fifth season finale.

[Note: Southland has yet to get a sixth season renewal so watching live and using your preferred social media outlet would be great to spread the word to TNT/Warner Bros. that we’re not done with this stellar show.]

TheBacklot: Last week’s episode was so intense. How did you and Anthony get through that?

Michael Cudlitz: Well the cool thing about it what they did was Chris Chulack [Exec Producer/Director] decided he was going to shoot that basically in sequence for a number of reasons. We were in sort of matching white underwear, which is just basically another uniform, which sort of subconsciously reminds you that we’re cops because we are still in a uniform. Even though that was a little different, you weren’t exactly wearing the same exact clothes but from a visual standpoint we were.

With those white clothes you are sort of a canvas for the events of the day…from getting dirty to [Lucero] getting shot but by the end of the night, you were wearing the entire day on you on the white, everything that has transpired through the day so it was used as a canvas but also a visual reminder that we are still in uniform even though we’re out of our actual blues and we’re still cops. So what he wanted to do is shoot the whole thing in sequence so we wound up doing that, which I think helped the piece immensely because it made it like a play. We were able to play things out fully, five, six, seven, eight pages at a time and just run with it.

The guys who played the meth heads, Tobias [Jelinek] and Ryan [Dorsey], were just awesome. And Anthony, who always is just terrific as well, and the four of us really just got into that space there and played things out, real-time, making sure no one was going to get hurt. It was a rough shoot. And we knew it was going to be a rough shoot going into it. It was 35 degrees the night that we were there. There was no heat inside the building and then we shot for a good four or five hours outside.

TBL: In that bar scene earlier in the episode, I couldn’t remember another time where Cooper was so open about who he was with somebody, in this case Lucero.

MC: Lucero had pushed it to that point where…he was like, ‘You know what? You’re trying to bang my wife’s friends…the fat ones, skinny ones, Mexican, Black, blah, blah, blah, the crazy, freaky, blah, blah…hey, look at her. Look at the boobs on her, this and that, duh duh de duh…this guy’s looking at my ass.’ It’s like, ‘Dude. Stop shoving your heterosexualness down my throat.’  He’s just had it and he’s like, ‘You know what? We’re going to go get a drink. Guess what? I’m gay. Yeah. Shut the f**k up and get over it.’ John says, ‘I don’t go shoving my lifestyle in other people’s faces. That’s why you don’t know. You shouldn’t be shoving yours down mine either. And if you do have a problem with gay people, I don’t want to hear about it. You’re more than entitled to feel however you want to feel about it, but keep it to yourself.’ That’s kind of how John lives his life.

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