In CBS' recently premiered Love Monkey (Tuesdays at 10 pm/ET), Ed alum Tom Cavanagh is flanked by a trio of buds, including Jason Priestley's dad-to-be, Mike, and Christopher Wiehl's onetime baseball stud, Jake. Rounding out the close-knit quartet is Shooter, played by Larenz Tate, with whom TVGuide.com went one-on-one in this Q&A.
TVGuide.com: Some have likened Love Monkey to Sex and the City, but with guys and music. In that scheme of things, who is Shooter Samantha?
Larenz Tate: Yeah, that's what everyone is saying. Our show clearly stands on its own, but if I had to compare, he'd be the Kim Cattrall character, because he has a lot of ladies and he has all the answers he's been there and he's done it when it comes to relationships. He's a straight shooter, no pun intended. He has enough experience to have wisdom about women and how people should handle themselves.
TVGuide.com: What else can you tell us about him? Occupation, romantic status, real first name?
Tate: His real first name we have not defined; "Shooter" is a childhood name that was given to him by his dad, and he kept it. His occupation is that he runs a real-estate company with his father, but it's not just your average real-estate company it's a multimillion-dollar huge corporation. These guys are trying to take down Donald Trump. They're really serious about what they're doing.
TVGuide.com: And yet, he still makes time for pickup games of basketball with his buddies!
Tate: He has the time, and let me tell you why: Shooter really doesn't have the same love for the business that his father does. It's the family business and it's what he's been raised to do, but it's not his own identity, his own calling. These guys played by Tom, Chris and Jason are guys that my character connects with, and he can be himself with them and not feel as if he needs to prove something. When these guys play ball, that is used as a platform to express themselves as opposed to four guys just going to a bar to talk about women and problems.
TVGuide.com: Here's something I'm confused about after watching the pilot: Do the other guys know that Jake is gay? The dialogue in the basketball courtyard, after Jake rebuffs that girl, was very vague.
Tate: Yeah, they know. It comes up, but we don't really make much of it. It's just one of those things that he is dealing with; he's not really open about it.
TVGuide.com: What's the mood on the set? Lots of testosterone-filled tomfoolery?
Tate: It's a joy to work with the people there. This is not one of those shows with an intense set, clearly because of the subject matter the comedy, the drama and the music all make for a relaxed set. We all respect one another and we're happy to be in New York working on a show where the writing is smart and witty and we have some leeway to be creative. It feels good to come to work and have some creative liberty, if you will, every now and again, as opposed to "Hit your mark, do these lines and stick with it." We try to have a little bit of fun. We understand what we're trying to do we're a mid-season show, and we all want to put the best work out there so we can come back for a second season.
TVGuide.com: Tom's character is facing this dilemma of whether or not to pursue romance with his female best friend. Have you ever braved that tricky transition?
Tate: Yeah, I've dated a couple of women who were good friends of mine, and it didn't work for me in the long run, only because I became more of a friend in the relationship. The woman was looking for more of the "boyfriend" aspect of it, and I was still the guy talking about the "hot chick across the street." When you're dating your friend, they don't really want to be your friend, they want to be your girl. It can get complicated. I have learned from those experiences, and the next time I have a girlfriend, it's going to be a girlfriend.
TVGuide.com: You're enjoying a nice January here: Love Monkey is on the air, Crash is getting all kinds of kudos....
Tate: It's been good, man, to be able to do television and film. For a long time, I wasn't sure if I wanted to do television, because the films were picking up for me. But I realized a few years ago that as long as it's good writing and a strong character and a great cast, it feels good. I'm very fortunate to be part of a very strong cast like Crash in the movie world, and then to be a part of an upbeat, fun and strong cast in Love Monkey. I couldn't have asked for a better situation.
TVGuide.com: In addition to Crash, you played Quincy Jones in Ray. Do you feel honored to have been part of two such critically acclaimed and, incidentally, African-American-centric films.
Tate: Absolutely. Ray Charles' story would never have been made had it not been for [writer-director] Taylor Hackford fighting to get the movie made for so long. And then to have Jamie Foxx come along and just completely blow everyone away with his performance? To be a part of that was really good, and it was an honor to play Quincy, who could very well have his own story told on the big screen. When they called to say, "We're looking for someone to play Quincy in 'a strong cameo,' would you be interested?" I talked to Jamie Foxx about it and then said, "Yeah!" Quincy actually wanted me to play him as well.
TVGuide.com: I was going to ask if Quincy Jones had any advice to share.
Tate: Of course. I knew Quincy before I got hired, and then I spent some time with him at his house talking about his relationship with Ray. I still keep in contact with Quincy he's still doing it, he has a great spirit.
TVGuide.com: You have another film in the can, called Waist Deep....
Tate: That will be out in April sometime. It's like an urban Bonnie and Clyde. Tyrese Gibson and I play cousins, and when his kid is kidnapped, we meet a girl and have to [round up the ransom] within 24 hours to get his kid back. So we're running around all of Los Angeles and South Central on a sort of robbing spree to get this kid out of the wrong hands. It's really exciting.
TVGuide.com: Before we go, tell me about the Tate Brothers Foundation.
Tate: About five years ago, my bothers and I wanted to create a foundation through which we could do something back in our hometown, Chicago. We tried to find a cause that doesn't get a lot of attention, and that was sickle-cell anemia, and then formed a not-for-profit organization where we bring in celebrities over Labor Day weekend to bowl and have a skating party with kids dealing with the disease. We do as much as we can to try to raise awareness and money for those who are less fortunate. The kids who are dealing with this illness are so happy to see people who care and acknowledge them and are pulling for them, and that makes us feel really good.
TVGuide.com: Are you the oldest brother? The youngest?
Tate: I'm the youngest. There's Larron, Lahmard and I'm the baby.
TVGuide.com: Did you get a lot of teasing and whoopin's from them growing up?
Tate: Yeah, man. They would pick on me a lot, mainly when we played basketball, because I couldn't shoot as well as those guys. After I got older, obviously, things changed. But those guys always challenged me, and that made me the person I am today. I'm always up for a challenge.