The Cleaner, Benjamin Bratt

Are special guest stars always a shark jump? The Cleaner's Benjamin Bratt says no way — especially when they include Whoopi Goldberg, Mia Kirschner, Gary Cole, and Joe Don Baker, some of the actors appearing on his A&E drama this season.

"Far too early for that," Bratt said, laughing off the question. "I think what it means in our case is that the writing is top-notch, and like all good actors understand, you can't really be good if the writing's not good to start with."

Helping make Bratt's case is the demanding acting on his show: No one gets to stop in for a ratings-grabbing cameo. Cole, best known for a brilliant comic turn as Office Space's Lumbergh, handled an intense dramatic role in Tuesday's Season 2 premiere.

"Gary Cole did a remarkable job in the premiere episode, playing a nationally recognizable newscaster who is strung out on speed and in desperate need of help," Bratt said. "He happens to be married to a woman who's suffering from terminal cancer, and he's spinning out of control. His performance required him to run naked across a beach as well as be tied down and sedated forcibly, and he did it all with a smile and with a lot of bravery in his performance. I think people are going to be surprised."

Whoopi Goldberg, meanwhile, will appear in three episodes. She lightens the show's sometimes grim tone "just because she's a funny lady," Bratt said. "But we never lost sight of the fact that she's an amazing dramatic actress."

Are you excited for The Cleaner's return?