Southland's Ben McKenzie on His Love for C. Thomas Howell
All week I've been trying to come up with a subject for this blog post. It's not that I don't have plenty to choose from as "The Runner" features a new partner for Lydia, the murder of a college athlete, and a trip to desert for John and Ben. Rather, I think I've been a bit overly serious in some prior posts and I want to have fun on this one. So, without further ado, a little love letter to one of my favorite actors, who also happens to work on "Southland." C. Thomas Howell. I love C. Thomas Howell.
I'm sure you have seen him in any number of movies over the years (The Outsiders, Red Dawn, The Hitcher, Side Out, Soul Man, etc.). He's been working consistently for decades, ever since he booked a role on E.T. at the tender age of fifteen. Now he plays alcoholic burnout Billy Dewey, an LAPD officer so reckless and impulsive that he always seems to leave a trail of destruction in his wake. From befriending Tom Sizemore (sorry actor "Timmy Davis") to going on a bender-induced joyride that nearly kills both him and his partner, it's always exciting when Officer Dewey is on screen. His character has been somewhat controversial for fans of the show because he seems to possess almost every quality a cop should not have. Is his character a bit over the top? Yes. Would he have been kicked out of the force a long time ago for such poor behavior? Most likely. The way Tommy plays him, however, I can't help but love the guy. He's like a kid who's had too much caffeine, creating crisis after crisis to fulfill the desperate thrill-seeker inside. Or maybe his behavior is just an elaborate subconscious cry for help; if he can just do something bad enough, he will get himself kicked off the force and be forced to confront his demons.
I understand that some fans of the show (and some real-life cops) object to having a clearly unfit cop in the line of duty, but to me he's the spark plug for a lot great conflict between his fellow officers. And it is a TV show, after all. We are not real cops, nor could we ever be (well maybe Michael Cudlitz, but that's beside the point). I love Tommy and what he does with the role. His passion for the show is infectious, and his manic energy helps drive every scene in which he appears. Watch this week's episode and you will see a terrific actor giving a great performance.