Southland's Regina King on the Show's Uncertain Future and Stepping Behind the Camera

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SOUTHLANDWill Southland live to protect and serve the Los Angeles streets for another season?

While the critically beloved, but ratings-challenged series has always had a question mark attached to it come renewal time, it seems especially on the bubble this year in light of co-stars Ben McKenzie and Shawn Hatosy booking pilots (albeit in second position).

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“Of course we want it to come back,” says leading lady Regina King, who directs this Wednesday’s episode (TNT, 10/9c). “But there are just certain things that [make us think], ‘Are we?’ No one’s told us that we weren’t, but there are enough things that haven’t happened” – like promotional support — “to question, ‘Are we?’”

With its uncertain fate, does Season 5′s last episode play like a season or a series finale? “It could go either way,” admits King.

Below, the actress talks about the difficulties of helming the fast-paced production, peeling back Lydia’s layers and her growing partnership with Ruben (played by Dorian Missick).

TVLINE | Lydia is pretty separate from most of the other characters. How was it finally coming together and working with Michael Cudlitz, Ben McKenzie, Shawn Hatosy and the rest of the cast as their director?
It was great. They totally embraced me putting on the director’s hat. They were very supportive. Shawn and Michael, they both actually stayed a few hours after they wrapped their scenes to watch me shoot other scenes with other cast members.

TVLINE | What was the most challenging aspect of directing the show?
Being in front of the camera. You just have to trust yourself and trust the crew that you are executing the plan. We move so fast on our show, there’s no time to stop — [It's] not even [that] we don’t have the time. We don’t have the money to stop after I do my take to watch the playback. That just doesn’t work for our schedule. Like I said, you have to be trusting.

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TVLINE | The shooter story in this episode reminded me so much of the incident that happened on Sunset in 2011. Was it inspired by that?
It is a pull-off of that. Definitely. But Zack [Whedon, who penned the episode] had written that in there.

TVLINE | Lydia has a pretty emotional, introspective storyline in this episode, in which she visits a death row inmate, who’s been exchanging letters with her for years. Can you preview what she’s dealing with?
It’s an interesting thing there because you’re left with this question of, has this woman gone on so long without trusting people that the only person that she can trust is a person that she knows is about to die? That says a lot – or a little – about someone. It depends on who the viewer is. I thought it was really, really interesting and fascinating for Zack to write that, as an actor and as a director.

TVLINE | Does the encounter with the death row inmate change her going forward?
I don’t know if it changes her or that it forces her to recognize something about herself.

TVLINE | She’s had no shortage of challenges when it comes to being a single mother. How is that going to test her in the upcoming episodes?
We’re going to see her grow from it. As crazy as it may seem, that’s the honest thing about life. Huge, life-changing events happen in our lives and usually most of us grow from them. We’re going to be able to witness that this season.

TVLINE | Will she reach out for help and let her ex back into her life?
Maybe, maybe. We’ll see. [Laughs] I can’t give too much away.

TVLINE | Ruben’s really been there for her – but he’s also not one to keep his mouth shut.  What conflicts are they going to face within their relationship?
A little more of that. Not a lot more of that. You’re going to get the opportunity to see the respect that she does have for him and how partnerships truly do form. Because they’re a lot like marriages. You are with these people 24/7 almost. You’re with them more than you’re with your actual partner, your wife or husband. You really have to trust each other and part of gaining that trust is being honest about your not-so-good qualities and your good qualities. We get the opportunity to actually see that in Ruben and Lydia. I don’t think we’ve seen that since Sammy and Nate.



Comments (24)

  • Sammy & Nate. Moment of silence, please, for one of the best partnerships seen on TV.

    Comment by Southland – March 13, 2013 06:42 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Agreed…really miss that partnership on this show.

      Comment by Shannon – March 13, 2013 08:26 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Soutland is the most realistic LA police drama that I have ever seem. Being from Southern California & seeing the real side of life close up, this show shows that. No holds barred!
      TNT please don’t cancel such a great show with great actors.
      TV is filled with so many shows that are seriously stupid & based on off the wall unrelatable content. I can’t believe the stupid “reality” shows that get renewed! It’s truly unbelievable that TV execs don’t see this or fail to really understand what is good TV.
      My applause to Southland actors, writers, directors & crew for a great show!!!! Well done!!
      PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE RENEW FOR SEASON 6!!!

      Comment by Monica in SoCal – April 18, 2013 10:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I would hope TNT would be so kind as to give them a sixth and final season, regardless of the current ratings. The cast and crew had the rugged pulled out from under them the first time, and I’d hate to see that happen again.

    Comment by Andrew – March 13, 2013 08:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • ^^^ I meant rug, sorry.

      Comment by Andrew – March 13, 2013 08:54 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Southland is the best cop show on TV currently (and one of the best ever). It’s so realistic and every episode has me on the edge of my seat. I started watching during season 4 (though I’ve seen a few episodes of season 1 and 3) so I can’t compare Lydia’s character now to how she was in the beginning, but she seems to be going through a lot of emotional turmoil. I’m looking forward to the episode she has directed. Oh, and I hope Southland gets renewed so I can see more Cooper, Sherman, and of course Lydia.

    Comment by Sareeta – March 13, 2013 04:56 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I had 28 years of experience with the LAPD and this show gets my blood moving like I was still on the job. I been there.

      Comment by Big city detective – April 13, 2013 06:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I am a Police Officer as well…It’s extremely realistic…It’s like being in my car in my beat….

        Comment by Todd Sorrell – April 18, 2013 12:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • One of the best cop shows on TV. It bewilders me to no end…as to why shows like “Honey Boo Boo” and “Mud Cats” just to name a couple…continue to get renewed for additional seasons, but shows with very real content…get the axe?????????????

    Comment by Cheryl – March 13, 2013 07:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I love the show. However, it’s the onset of the Apocalypse. “Housewives”, “Kardashians”, people wrestling alligators, people making moonshine, big brother, little sister, medium uncle, etc., etc., etc. get more and more airtime and shows that are more credible and real life than those “reality” shows, which are staged by the way, are being cancelled. There is no justice. My only complaint about the show would be that we only get to see30-45 second snippets of the characters and their off-duty relationships. I wish they were a little more developed. I can’t wait to see if Ben’s girlfriends meet up.

      Comment by Marcus – April 4, 2013 05:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • South land is such a great show that receives very little marketing/exposure. I had to do searches to find out when the new season was starting. If more people were aware of this show, the ratings would skyrocket.

    Comment by Lisa – March 17, 2013 06:02 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Pretty sure losing Southland a second time would rip a hole in the universe somewhere. This is great television and I pray it makes it a few more seasons.

    Comment by Brandi – March 20, 2013 08:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Southland is such a great show every time I watch it I am never disappointed. Love the scenes,love the characters and hope to watch it another season.

    Comment by john nash – March 28, 2013 06:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I really Hope it has a Season 6 because i been a cop for a while now and southland really brings it out from good cops to bad cops to corruption man this show is really the truth as close as you will get to the lives of a police officer

    Comment by DC Cop – April 14, 2013 08:43 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree…I am a Police Officer as well….The interactions that partners face daily are really shown in this show…The good days,,,,and the bad ones…this show is awesome

      Comment by Todd Sorrell – April 18, 2013 12:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’ve had people ask me what I watch on TV these days. I tell them about Southland. They have no idea what I’m talking about? We definitely need to get the word out about this great series. Please avoid those horrible reality shows with celebrity circus divers, Bridezillas, and those other ridiculous, sub-culture shows. Southland keeps it real!

    Comment by manny – April 16, 2013 10:19 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Southland is one of the most amazing shows on tv today. Great actors, great scripts, and gripping plots! 10 episodes a season is not enough, and five seasons is robbery! I want to see this show go on, please bring on season 6! This show tops anything in the movie theaters today!

    Comment by Kimberly Baker – April 17, 2013 08:42 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree…Give them season 6….THEY DESERVE IT>>>>>

      Comment by Todd Sorrell – April 18, 2013 01:00 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I am a police officer myself and some of the scenes are so realstic stories on the show, some seem to be events that I have lived out in real life. It is one of the best cop shows around and I usually don’t like cop shows because they seam far fetched or unrealistic. I truly hope this show continues. If not I thank all of the cast and crew for a job well done.

    Comment by Patrick Mullican – April 18, 2013 04:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • With close to 15 years experience in the field myself I say that SouthLAnd is the most realistic police show ever, hands down. I’ve got my friends and fam hooked. I’ve watched every minute of every episode all 5 seasons. Why is this great show so challenged? The plots, storylines, and acting are award deserving. Cooper plays his role so well it’s like he isn’t even acting

    Comment by P3 – April 20, 2013 05:36 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I have been a Police Officer for 16 years, and this by far is the most realistic portrayal I’ve ever seen. I love that they show the good, the bad and the ugly. Michael Cudlitz deserves an Emmy for his performance during the kidnapping scenes. It is an excellent show and I want it renewed for season six! PLEASE!

    Comment by Female Officer – April 22, 2013 08:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Them show is great, the imperfections of the officers is what makes the show so great

    Comment by RCstrom – April 23, 2013 08:19 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Please save southland I love this show and cannot understand how the simpsons continue and swamp this or biggest whatever get renewed yet Southland is not pulling ratings. Wow really???????? I agree continue the show and really market it and see if ratings bump.

    Comment by Matt Sorge – April 29, 2013 04:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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