Southland's Michael Cudlitz Previews the 'Satisfying, If Not Aggravating' (Series?) Finale

Southland Season 5 Spoilers FinaleThe cops of Southland sign off this Wednesday (TNT, 10/9c) with an intense season — or is it series? — finale.

If this is the bubble show’s last year on the beat, the police drama is going out big with “42 minutes of crisis,” previews Michael Cudlitz.

Below, TVLine talks to the actor about his Officer Cooper’s recent trauma, how it’ll impact him going forward and why the season ender will satisfy and aggravate viewers.

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TVLINE | Last week’s episode was so harrowing. How physically and emotionally daunting was it to film?
It was very physically draining. The cool thing about it was that [director/executive producer] Chris Chulack shot it in chronological order. Typically, we’ll jump around, but we actually went in order with this, which helps out a lot. It’s intense stuff. Everybody brought their game. The guys who played the meth heads [Tobias Jelinek and Ryan Dorsey] were phenomenal. We could not have done what we did were it not for them. And obviously, Anthony [Ruivivar as Hank Lucero] was incredible, as well. Just a really wonderful experience. As an actor, you dream of those kinds of situations where you can play like that. I’m very, very proud of that episode.

TVLINE | You were in a really awkward position for most of the episode.
It’s good because we got to call back on John’s physical issues that he had. They kept beating him on his back. For the audience, that’s pretty rough because they’re with him. They know exactly what’s going on. But yeah, being dragged around basically in your underwear on carpet… Carpet burns and being shellacked around and bruised up and cut and outside, it’s very physically demanding. And it was awesome.

TVLINE | Did you and Anthony have a heads up that this was how their partnership was going to wrap up?
Southland Season 5 Spoilers FinaleI knew a little bit earlier than him, but we both didn’t know what was really going to happen. Chris has been wanting to do an homage to The Onion Field story for a while. The script has to be right. It really is potentially very, very risky in the sense [that] to do it right is very hard. I found out around Episode 8-ish, maybe the end of [Episode] 7, that it was maybe going to be happening. … Anthony found out, I think, one episode prior. But he knew he was only signed on for one season. As an actor, coming into something like that — a cop show that has already killed one of its lead actors — it can go any way.

TVLINE | When the finale picks up, is Cooper still in the thick of it? Or is there a time jump?
We come back 18 days later. He thinks he’s ready to start going back to work and has his act together. On the surface, everything seems fine. The department still won’t let him carry a weapon and won’t put him on full active duty. So there’s some issues there. Over the course of the episode, you realize whether he is or is not ready to be back on the streets again. Across the board, it’s an intense episode. It’s going to be a very… [Pauses] satisfying, if not aggravating episode.

TVLINE | Uh-oh. Why aggravating?
It’s just there’s a lot to wrap up. It’s very intense because every relationship is at critical mass in the show. [Ben and Sammy’s] partnership is at crisis point. They will have some resolve to that. There’s a lot, a lot of stuff going on. This week is more balanced between the three cars in telling those stories and making it so that everyone feels satisfied for this being a season finale.

TVLINE | Does Cooper have a new partner now?
He’s not put out on the streets. He’s working behind a desk. If you remember, he’s spoken about working behind a desk in Season 2 or 3. It’s probably the worst thing he could ever imagine happening to himself. So he’s not necessarily dealing with that the best he can. But he does know it’s part of the process of getting back. We’ll see how this event will shape who he’s going to be from this point forward.

TVLINE | Does what happened affect his plans to want to start a family with his ex?
It definitely feeds into what’s going on with his family and how he wants to move forward from here in his future relationships. Some choices are his, and some choices are out of his control.

TVLINE | It said a lot that Ben went off to help find Cooper even though they weren’t on the best of terms. Do they get a moment in the finale?
No. [Laughs]

TVLINE | You’re breaking my heart here.
[Gruff voice] Life’s like that sometimes, sweetheart!

TVLINE | If this is the final season, how do you feel about the way Cooper’s arc wraps up?
It’s been a fantastic ride, if this were to be the end. But I’ve said this before: We go through this every year. We’re always on the bubble. We’re always on the verge of cancellation. We actually have been canceled once. So I’m very pleased [with] where Cooper is right now. I look forward to seeing where he goes.

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  1. Really hope Southland survives for another season.

    • Delor Adams says:

      This is the best show ever. It is great acting, story line is out of this world and it makes you believe that this is really happening. We in this house love Cooper. Lets all get together and work to make sure that Southland is not taken off the air!!!

      • Maureen Sullivan says:

        Delor is right! I will join your house and work to get the show back!

      • Jean says:

        I agree… it is a great show and more true to life than most any other Police Show I have seen on TV or the movie for that matter. Love the John Cooper character.. Hope this show comes back for many more seasons!

    • Mark Ullrich says:

      My wife and I watch Southland every week love the show and Cooper. Hope they’ll be back for another season.

  2. missy says:

    i really like southland alot so i wont them 2 bring it back 4sure so please bring it back

  3. Unquestionably, Southland is one of the best shows on TV. And, Michael Cudlitz is one hell of an actor. Last week’s episode had me holding my breathe and on-edge the whole time. Here’s wishing Emmy recognition this fall and a new season in February.

  4. janet a. says:

    Why has Michael been doing the bulk of the press for the show this season. It was also very noticeable last season. Does he constantly write journalists and offer himself for interviews? Are his costars simply quieter and less aggressive when it comes to promoting themselves? No offense to him, but it would be nice to also hear from the others, particularly Shawn and Ben.
    Season 3 was the last time when there was a more balanced mix of the show’s cast doing publicity for the program.

    • ramble says:

      Ben McKenzie was essentially the sole PR person for the show for the first few years, literally globetrotting. Some others joined him for local satellite hook ups from L.A. and Regina has appeared with him in NYC and also in Latin America, but his promotion work started with NBC before Southland ever aired and he’s done the bulk of the U.S. and foreign interviews, whether video, in print or by phone. He’s been filming a pilot for the last few weeks, so I doubt that he’s been available, and where NBC was very active with marketing and promotion and TNT was initially, that really cooled within the last 2 years. I think what you’re seeing is the limited press coverage now and very little money spent by TNT. Then there are certain actors who are very into promoting and look for opportunities and cultivate relationships with bloggers and writers.

      I think it’s telling that Ben hasn’t appeared on any of the main daytime national shows that he always was on regularly in NY or L.A., which he did last spring with Live with Kelly, etc., and Ellen was every year. No Jimmy Kimmel or Craig Ferguson this year, although he did appear on Conan recently from the late night circuit. He’d written a column for the Huffington Post including last year and did weekly blogs for TV Guide before the show went to TNT. There’s no shortage of features until this year, although last year was slower.

    • Dizzle says:

      Regina King, Ben McKenzie and Shawn Hatosy have all booked pilots so will be in the middle of filming.

      • JEst says:

        Even if those pilots are chosen for series, it is with the understanding that they are second position to Southland, meaning that if it is renwewed, their roles in the shows the pilots are for, will be recast.

  5. Ruby says:

    He is in my top 5 favorite actors on TV. His performance is always incredible, even in the most simple of scenes. I have so, so much respect for him.

    • Teeny Bikini says:

      I love this guy. He is number 1 in my book. That includes film. Where ever his career takes him – I hope to be there watching his incredible skill.

    • Sareeta says:

      First time I saw him was in Band of Brothers—awesome performance. I came to Southland late in its run (season 3), but he has been the standout performer.

  6. Belinda Perkins says:

    Michael’s love for his character and SouthLAnd is evident by how hard he has worked acting in and promoting this terrific show. I’ve been along on the ride since day one and I’m a dedicated and vocal SouthLAnd fan. I would like nothing better than to have the show continue for many seasons to come, but if that isn’t to be, the entire crew has something they will forever be proud of and I thank them for it.

    • nptexas says:

      I agree 100%!! Fine acting, great writing, terrific characters (even if I don’t like all of them). I hope for many more seasons. TNT just needs to make the commitment & quit creating so much stress!

  7. DL says:

    Give this man a freakin’ Emmy, please! His stellar performance as John Cooper through these incredible seasons deserves recognition. Southland is easily one of the best shows on TV, and if it’s over, at least it’s gone on a high note.

  8. nannarpite says:

    PLEASE do not cancel Southland!! It’s the best cop show on TV!

  9. Frank says:

    I think journalist choose who they want to interview. Not the other way around.

  10. Jason says:

    Love it.

  11. joe says:

    Super intense had me on the edge of my chair. Great writing and acting by all

  12. I have loved Southland from the beginning. Figures that it is on the chopping block again. Seems as though all the good shows have to go.

  13. reb says:

    Cooper is my favorite character on TV these days. He’s just so human. That’s a testament to both the fine writing and Cudlitz’s fine acting. Can’t wait for the finale!

  14. SouthLAnd is one of the best shows on TV. I’ve been watching since Season 1 and it just gets better and better with each new season. Michael Cudlitz deserves an EMMY for his portrayal of John Cooper!

  15. ninamags says:

    Fantastic show. I love all the characters. Even super-annoying Dewey.

    Hopefully the show does get renewed.

    Cooper deserves his happy ending.

  16. Renee says:

    Note to the executives at TNT: Please renew one of the best shows on TV SouthLAnd.The actors and the storytelling is phenomenal!!

  17. ee says:

    I had to lend my voice. This show is underrated by all, even myself. Southland is the best show on television. The cast and the writers are far better than any of us mere mortals deserve

  18. Britta Unfiltered says:

    I hope this show gets renewed.

  19. Terry says:

    One of the best shows on all of TV right now. Hope TNT will bring it back for another season.

  20. Fletcher says:

    Please keep SouthLAnd alive!

  21. phamster says:

    I appreciate these 4 seasons we were provided and would only mildly complain if it were canceled as we were definitely given a gift. However, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE if this series kept going. I think if it does make it a 6th season, I think it would be its last.

  22. Xavier says:

    Southland is probably the best drama on TV in ages. It’s the only show where I watch from start to finish, and actually pay attention to the commercials.

    It is one if the best written shows around, it’s filming all over L.A. is so damn cool, and the plot lines are always a surprise.

    Damn it, TNT, do your execs even bother to watch the show or do you just check the ratings in the morning like most morons in the executive offices of.production companies.

    Please treasure what you have produced. We do!!

  23. Sareeta says:

    Thanks for this interview. Cudlitz has been my favorite actor this TV season; I’m still in shock from last week’s episode. I hope he’s right about there still be hope for a renewal since they seem to always be on the bubble. I really would like at least one more season, if nothing else, to write all the characters a proper exit (especially John Cooper, Ben Sherman, and Sammy). If no renewal, at least we got 5 great seasons. TNT deserves some credit for saving the show the first time around. Southland = best cop show, and perhaps among the best dramas of all time.

    Southland is my only reason to tune in to TNT. I believe it is the only critically acclaimed drama they have in their lineup. Maybe it hasn’t been a ratings powerhouse, but I think part of that is due to poor promotion.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to (and dreading) tonight’s episode. I hope it’s not the last.

  24. Daniel Vaughn says:

    Truly the best Police drama since Hill Street Blues back in the late 80’s early 90’s. TNT has a real hem here and I think they can get so many more seasons out of it. Please keep up the fantastic work and we will be waiting for the following seasons! Stay with us John!!

  25. Keven Oxford says:

    When I started watching series one my wife said…..not another macho cop show” Now four series later she’s a hardcore fan & claims it’s the best show on tv. I tend to agree. It’s realism draws you into the world of the LA cop & the daunting prospect of dying on the street at any moment. Great writing, great acting what more could you want. Another series please, go out with a band not a simper. Let the characters play out so we who watch the show & care about it can feel all is resolved.

  26. Alex Palmer says:

    Just watched the finale. What the **** was that?! The last episode should’ve been the last. I’m disappointed I really am. I’m sorry but too many loose ends to have to wait for another season. If it ends here I’m done watching TNT for that matter.

  27. T. Dolphy says:

    Please, please DO NOT cancel Southland. It is superb!

  28. Sonia M. Davalos says:

    OMG! Please don’t kill off John Cooper, such a great character & well acted by Michael Cudlitz. Noone could play that part the way he does. I love love love Southland, no other police show is as compelling & realistic as this one. Please please bring it back, it can’t go off the air, its a wonderful show & I look forward to watching it every week. I am a police officer & learn a lot from watching it. John Cooper is a great officer & does not back down to anyone! Love you Southland! Look forward to next season & hopefully many more seasons to come!

  29. Julie Kitchen says:

    TNT, I hope you consider that this show is much more than “just TV”. The cast is superb and the writing is the best. Whenever an audience gets so wrapped up into the characters, you know you have something great. This show is the highlight of my TV weeks, and especially Wednesday nights and I really, really don’t even want to think about this show being cancelled. This show is definitely a keeper.

  30. MJ says:

    Best drama on television. Best writing, acting, direction, casting…I watch every commercial, usually because I need a moment to calm down. This is the best ride on television!

  31. r.lawry says:

    one more season to wrap up the show would be great! ending southland with a finale like the one on another fav show, flashpoint, having everything working out for everyone is sooo good a sloppy wrap up with everyone being in a good plac.

  32. jackie2830 says:

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this show…’s the REAL DEAL. You feel like you’re right next to them on the streets. The writing, acting, stories………EVERYTHING is superb. However, we have to admit, that last episode was REALLY gut wrenching!

  33. this is not the “greatest show ever”. It is a good cop show which, based on the finale, has run out of gas.

  34. Emelie says:

    Southland is by far the best show on TV. The writing is amazing and the acting couldn’t be better. I really hope the show continues and gets some Emmy love.

  35. SazzyDee says:

    Bring John Cooper back from the dead please.. come now don’t take him of the air. This is the by far the best show I’ve watched since the show “24”. Love it!

  36. SazzyDee says:

    Bring John Cooper back from the dead please.. come now don’t take him of the air. This is by far the best show I’ve watched since the show “24”. Love it!

  37. comment by: samjoy says:

    Love the show, love the cast, mostly Cooper. Please allow this man to have a little happiness in his life! And please bring this show back. It is so hard to find a decent show these days.

  38. Gizzy says:

    Just starting watching this show this season. Could not believe what I had been missing. The last 2 episodes left me at the edge of my seat, never see the ending coming.. and that is a true testiment to the writers. Last nights finale was incredible. Others have noted MC should be recognized with an Emmy.. I ditto that ! Job well done.. and I hope this show continues.

  39. Michelle Shew says:

    I love Southland one of the best cop shows on tv. Season finale was very aggravating hoping John is back next season. There are too many lose ends for it not to renew.

  40. Ginny Scott says:

    A terrific show! All writing and acting is superior. My favorites are Cooper and Lydia. Anthony Ruivivar was remarkable as well. Please continue SouthLAnd!

  41. Mo says:

    Southland is the best program on the air. John Cooper must survive. Please. Those crack head actors were frightening, yet spot on. Great acting all around. Pay them what they want and bring Southland back. Soon, please.

  42. Wendy Puffle says:

    I wasn’t familiar with Michael Cudlitz’s work until “Southland.” He is definitely one of the most talented actors on TV today. Should they ever decide to turn any more of Michael Connelly’s novels into movies, he would be perfect as Harry Bosch. It would also mean a promotion to detective.

  43. Gaila M says:

    I have been hooked on this show from the beginning. Like most everyone else here, I do think it needs at least one more season to wrap up, would love to get more seasons out of it. but at least one more. Is there a petition we can sign and send to TNT? And one more thing, we also need John Cooper back! ; )

  44. Gaila M says:

    And forgot to mention, Regina King, Shawn Hatosy and Ben Mackenzie, great actress and actors too, so much crap on TV today and they want to cancel one of the best, I don’t get it! Please, please, please, bring it back!

  45. Linda West says:

    just watched the last two epiodes last night and can’t get them out of my mind. i’ve been a fan since day 1 and think this is the best season yet. The best acting and writing on TV! how Michael Cudlitz has been overlooked for an Emmy is beyond me. i LOVE these characters and hope to see them back next year.

  46. charlotte says:

    The best show on TV. Mostly ignored by the mainstream, of course. Some of the best acting and directing around. I hope it lasts a long time, but, I, definitely, need one more year for some closure. Listening TNT?

  47. Barbara says:

    The best show on t.v. ..My husband and I watched from Day 1..we love Cooper.please ..please bring it back again..have to know what happens
    To he dead or alive??!!!

  48. Francesca says:

    The last two episodes were riveting! The writing and acting are amazing. I love the characters and their struggles while the backdrop is law enforcement. There are several standouts such as Cudlitz, Mckenzie and King and the guest stars such as Gerald McRaney. I’ve watched the show from the start and it has consistently been great acting and writing. Why do we have to beg to keep this show on television??? There is so much junk on while this is a quality show. It is fresh and intriguing and the development of the characters keeps you wanting more. PLEASE keep this show.

  49. Kathy says:

    I am truly disappointed that Southland may not be returning. It is the best, truest, down to earth cop show. I love the way it would weave from the personal lives of the cops to the action. Great, realistic personalities and the way the filming was done was so realistic. Please, if anyone can renew this show I think you’d be doing the public a great justice as it gives us a real taste of the stress, bravery, and terror of being a cop. PLEASE RENEW THIS SERIES!!!