"Lights Out" on FX rolls into Tuesday with a new episode, "Rainmaker."
This series, that so many of you still have yet to discover, is one of the most acclaimed new scripted dramas of the year.Showrunner Warren Leight and his writers have done a phenomenal job and the performances of Holt McCallany, Pablo Schreiber, Stacy Keach, Bill Irwin, Elizabeth Marvel, Catherine McCormack and the entire guest starring cast have been superb.
If you missed last week's episode, read Minnesota's 103.7 The Loon radio personality Kevin Key's excellent weekly recap here
This coming Tuesday sees actor David Morse as a punch drunk fighter that Lights (McCallany) tries to help.
Last week Holt and Warren spoke to Monsters and Critics with some other TV journalists about this episode, David Morse's performance and the ride so far on FX and the hopes for a season two.
"I guess the first thing that I would say is that we were blessed with a tremendous actor David Morse in that role," says Holt MCCallany about his costar this week. " He really, really created a very special character, heartbreaking and very authentic. If you hang around boxing gyms, unfortunately, it doesn't take long before you meet guys that have taken too many punches and are in that kind of condition. What David was able to capture so beautifully was that there's very often this sort of sweetness about them."
'Lights' Leary is awash in emotion and a sense of obligation in this episode. The rematch is approaching, and he is under pressure from Hal Brennan (Bill Irwin) to take care of a problem...Boxing is not a sport where you get a pension when you retire at the end of your career. So I have all of these things— I suppose, on a certain level I feel a measure of culpability. I feel a tremendous amount of empathy and I also feel a great deal of apprehension because I don't want to end up like him."
Monsters and Critics asked Warren and Holt about working with Billy Brown (Death Row Reynolds) in the series.
"Well finding him was hard because I needed to find somebody who you could legitimately believe has been heavyweight champion of the world for five years and no one’s laid a glove on him. You need somebody in immediate and overt great shape who has physicality and can act," says Warren Leight. "I didn't want a stock villain, each week you get another layer peeled off of this guy. There's a lot going on with Death Row. He's a sophisticated guy with some early issues that are still affected his choices. Billy was a gift and I remember it was an audition tape watching it on the computer scan and I thought, 'Okay we're done.' It was a gift to get a guy like that."
Holt was in agreement. "April, you know how I feel about Billy Brown. There aren't enough superlatives in the English language for me to describe this actor. I think that this is an actor that literally has it all. I mean he's got a great intelligence and humor and depth. He has a tremendous work ethic and he's a joy to be around."
"From day one when I called him up and I said, 'Hey, listen man, it looks like you and me are going to have to dance, so let's get into the gym and start working.' This was a guy that didn't have a boxing background. Obviously, he's a very gifted athlete who's in just like super, phenomenal physical condition, but he committed to the work and to the training with such enthusiasm and with such dedication that I have to say, I fancy myself a hard worker and I've got to tell you I was so impressed with this guy. I just continue to be more impressed with him the longer that I work with him. I really think the sky is the limit for this actor. There's nothing that this guy can't accomplish in this business."
Warren spoke about filming the finale fight scene. "I think it’s worth it to point out most of our fight scenes have been shot in one day. That one we had the luxury of actually two days. So it's amazing what these guys do in that amount of time, 14 hour days and just going at it. It's not the way film scenes are shot in the movies. It's really bloodier. We just don't have the time; they have to hit their mark."
Monsters and Critics is hoping for Season 2. If so, we asked Warren Leight if he would bring guest stars Bas Rutten and Eamonn Walker back in any capacity.
"Yes, I think that by the time we got there we've already figured out his arch, but I have plans for Season 2. I remain optimistic. Part of the reason we're doing this call today is to say we're still punching and there's still four great episodes left," says Warren. "If there's a Season 2, we invite Eamonn back. I haven't told Holt about it but there's a clear role for Eamonn in Season 2. Bas, I'd take any chance I could get. That guy—just to watch him beat the … out of Pablo Schreiber was thrilling."
Holt added, "I think he wants to be a good guy if he comes back .... 'Can I be a good guy?' He keeps asking me. I said, 'I don't know, Bas. I’ll have to run that up the flag pole.' But both of those guys that you mentioned for different reasons are—they really brought a lot to the parts that they played this season. The reaction to Eamonn Walker's performance was so positive. People just loved that character and our relationship and we work so beautifully together. Bas is an exciting guy. He's an exciting athlete, an exciting actor and whenever he's on film, you've got to watch him. Personally, I would love to work with those guys again."
Holt continued his conversation about "Lights Out" with Monsters and Critics today as we talked about Rainmaker - the episode to come this Tuesday.
Holt says, "In episode eleven of Lights Out - “Rainmaker” - my character “Lights” Leary runs into his old friend Jerry 'The Rainmaker' Raines, a former heavyweight boxing champ now down on his luck and selling memorabilia at a flea market. Jerry and I fought years earlier and Jerry now suffers from pugilistic dementia. David Morse guest stars as 'The Rainmaker' and nails this character from the opening scene. In my research for Lights Out I spent a lot of time talking to boxers who I thought exhibited the outward signs of dementia. Very often fighters who have taken too many punches, and have lost some of their mental capacity as a result, have a certain innocence about them, a gentle sweetness that makes them seem like happy children. This is what David Morse captured so beautifully."
"I feel sorry for Jerry, and offer him a job at my gym. Little do I know my sister Margaret (Elizabeth Marvel) has brought me to the flea market just so I would run into Jerry and see what could be in my future if I continue boxing.
"When 'The Rainmaker' forgets to show up at the gym I decide to go looking for him because there’s a part of me that feels responsible for his condition. I used as a model the sad fight between Larry Holmes and Muhammad Ali, a fight that never should have been sanctioned. Ali came out of retirement to face his old sparring partner Holmes after his skills had completely eroded. Holmes reluctantly punished Ali for eleven rounds before Ali’s trainer Angelo Dundee threw in the towel. Holmes later said 'You never like to fight a guy that helped you, a guy you think of as a legend.' That's how 'Lights' feels about 'The Rainmaker.'
"Every guy makes his own decision to get in the ring but that doesn't mean you won't feel remorse when you’re put in the position of having to hurt someone you really like, that you know has 'stayed too long at the dance.' When I look at Jerry I feel conflicting emotions, part of me respects him, part of me feels badly about his condition and my hand in it, and part of me feels apprehension that this is what may lie ahead for me."
Holt continued, "Another terrific sequence at the beginning of this episode has the Leary's all together celebrating the 4th of July. More than any other time this season it’s an opportunity to see the whole family having fun and just enjoying each others' company, although underneath it things remain very tense between me and my wife Theresa (Catherine McCormack)."
"Complicating things further is a visit from the corrupt councilman I bribed in episode two. He comes to my house to shake me down but I throw him out. The last thing I need is to get caught up in a scandal, but when FBI agents show up I know I've got a serious problem. I go see Brennan (Bill Irwin) and find out that everybody's trying to distance themselves from the councilman."
There is a noticeable shift between Lights and Theresa. Holt says, "The moment has finally come for “Lights” to come clean with Theresa about everything I’ve been hiding from her on all season long, or almost everything. I tell her about bribing the councilman, and breaking the dentist’s arm, and about how Brennan made it all go away. Theresa shows me she's prepared to stand by me no matter what I've done and for the first time in a long time I feel like she and I are really communicating. I’ve wanted to get these things off my chest for months and I'm grateful for her understanding, especially with the big fight only weeks away."
"But when Brennan suggests I take matters into my own hands to ensure the councilman stops talking I'm really in a quandary. I can't afford to be indicted, it could cost me the rematch with 'Death Row.' When the FBI comes back to the gym to slap cuffs on me I go to the one person I can always rely on to give advice under any circumstances, my father 'Pops' Leary (Stacy Keach). He tells me what I already knew - that I don't have a choice but to keep my mouth shut. That means I’ll have to handle the councilman myself, or maybe, just maybe, I can reach out to an old friend, someone I always liked, someone I know I can trust to keep a secret, someone I always thought of as a legend."
Episode #11 airs Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 10:00 PM ET/PT “Rainmaker”