I recently had the opportunity to speak with Mary McDonnell of Major Crimes in anticipation of tomorrow's Season 2 premiere of the TNT drama.
And while our time was short, the actress offered some fascinating insights into various characters and how she successfully transitioned from one hit (The Closer) to another. Read on for excerpts from our exclusive Q&A...
I found Major Crimes Season 1 captivating. I look forward it more on a weekly basis than I did it's predecessor. Congratulations on your success and Season 2.
Mary McDonnell: I'm very very happy that you have successfully transitioned into the new show. The plan was always to create a transition with integrity. We knew, James Duff Knew, I knew, we couldn't really make a false move in there or we would lose a beloved fan group and we never wanted to...you don't move forward into a new form without completely respecting the old and making sure that you maintain the story that was so iconic. All of those elements are so freaking interesting when you're in the middle of it trying to figure out a moment to moment behavior of who a character is, inside that kind of container it becomes absolutely fascinating.
It was a really wonderful challenge to be as specific as that, so when it worked and people loved the new show, as well as held the predecessor as precious, we are beyond thrilled, do you know what I'm saying? It's really exciting. Of course, the numbers speak for themselves and that part speaks for itself and I am just so thrilled and I think the fans are going to be so excited for the new season because with the confidence now of having morphed into a new form, this particular group, this particular major crimes division that operates differently now can dive back back into some very serious crimes. With all of these new politics influencing the way they can solve a crime or not and some the dynamics among us have changed and are still growing and changing, so it feels very fresh, and I'm excited about that.
Is there going to be a time jump from the end of season one to the beginning of season 2?
MM: No, nothing to speak of. Nothing that is italicized. Certainly not the next moment, but certainly not years later. We're still in an overview, there is still a through-line bending us backwards.
I understand there is a new DDA who will ruffle some feathers, especially with regard to your relationship with Rusty. How is she going to affect that?
MM: And the many aunts and uncles! Which is so beautiful, isn't it? That's part of what I loved about how we ended the season with Rusty. The ending was the beginning of a new life for a child. To allow these cops to be at work together, touching upon their familial emotional heartstrings with this child is a really wonderful element to inject into a murder crimes division. The murder room has a new element to it and it's beautiful and we have this kid. So that's fabulous.
The new element that you brought up with the DA is also very exciting and it presents Sharon Raydor with philosophical dilemmas always because here is a young woman, a very ambitious DA coming in to help out with a case that has to be dealt with. It's why Rusty is with Sharon to begin with - he's a material witness in the murder case with Philip Stroh. So this young DA comes in and on the one hand Sharon Raydor as a woman, who promotes young women in the world and their ambitions and as the foster mother of Rusty who wants the material witness part of his life to be over with, and as the cop who wants the Philip Stroh case to finally be dealt with and the person you became very supportive of on the other show, Brenda Leigh Johnson, on the other show. So there are all these areas that are coming together for her, and yet this person and her style becomes a bit of a dilemma, so it's really interesting. Sharon's always someone who is battling right decisions. On the on hand this is the right choice, on the other hand this is the right choice, how does she find the most powerful way through the right choices and pick the very rightest?
Essentially what is the most right for the moment.
MM: Yes. And that's risky, that's risky. It's more sophisticated than right versus wrong.
I thought it was interesting that Provenza, who at first thought the idea of making deals was horrific, was falling into line with Sharon. Is that going to continue this season?
MM: I think that these situations are requiring all of them to grow beyond their comfort zone - as cops, as coworkers, as parents, as citizens. Provenza is a perfect example of that because he's being asked at a certain point in his career to grow beyond the way he sees himself and he's an amazing cop. What I love it that we all get pushed and pulled and tugged through this new form and if you, as a human being I think, you can be rendered to a new form I think, as so many people do in a country that's in a recession do who are trying to survive, if you can let yourself be reformed, your talent can somehow get even greater and deeper. That's kind of how I'm seeing Provenza. That's how Raydor is watching him because he's a great cop. Period. He has earned a position that greater understands. So that conflict isn't what it once was, but there's always going to be that 'how do really powerful people work together' rather than surrendering to each other.
What one thing you think the viewers should look forward to this season?
MM: I'm very, very excited about this new story line bringing Tom Berenger in as Sharon Raydor's ex husband. I'm so looking forward to that because it was sooo much fun!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.