Michael Ealy has been on quite a roll lately with the box office blockbuster Think Like a Man, cult hit Underworld: Awakening and recent recurring runs on Californication and The Good Wife. This week, he returns to TV in the USA Network series Common Law, playing LAPD Robbery-Homicide detective Travis Marks in a lighthearted series about partners who don’t exactly get along. In fact, they’re at each other’s throats most of the time. Ealy gave us the scoop about it and discusses his career so far.
Tell us about Common Law.
It’s an action-comedy about two detectives who are having issues in terms of getting along, and in order to preserve their working relationship their captain forces them into counseling. We go into therapy — we don’t have a choice. The show is serialized in some ways, and procedural in others. Travis Marks is definitely a player. He has commitment issues. He grew up in the foster care program so he’s afraid of commitment, and that tends to lead to multiple women, but not a different one in every episode.
Were you looking for a new series? What was it about this one that appealed to you?
Yes, I was. After doing Sleeper Cell, FlashForward and The Good Wife, I’d done enough heavy drama and I was looking for something on the lighter side. I know the commitment that TV requires but it’s nice to come to work and have fun.
Do you like the action aspect?
Yes. We’re doing a lot of foot chases and fight scenes, car chases, shoot outs. You know, most detectives rarely if ever discharge their weapons, but it’s TV.
Did you have to have weapons training?
No, I’ve done enough shows to know how to handle the weapons.
Have you stepped up your gym workouts?
Yeah, if you’re going to be in people’s living rooms you better get in the gym. I’ve done it before. When I’m 50 I won’t be taking my shirt off so now’s the time.
You’re shooting in New Orleans. How do you like it?
It’s great. It’s much bigger than I thought it was. It’s my second time there — the first time was for the Essence Music Festival and I just went from the Convention Center to the hotel so I really didn’t see anything. There’s a lot of money being invested in the city. They’re building, and in about 10 years it will be a whole new city.
It’s famous for its food. Have you indulged?
Well, it’s a good thing I’m allergic to shellfish. But the beignets, all the fried food is wonderful. Keeps me in the gym.
Do you have anything else lined up?
I did an independent film called Unconditional that should be coming out in the fall. I play a community hero who is suffering from a rare kidney disease and it goes into all kinds of dark places. I like going back and forth between the lighter and heavier stuff. It has an element of the drama I’m known for. When I did Takers, I really enjoyed the action and it made me want to do more of it, which led me to Underworld, which I did after I did the Common Law pilot. Then I got the offer to do Think Like a Man, and though I’d never really wanted to do a romantic-comedy, I thought to myself that it might be great. I’m trying to diversify, and so far so good.
Common Law premieres on USA May 11 at 10 P.M.
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(Photo: Fernando Leon/Getty Images)