Rescue Me Rescue Me

The men of 62 Truck have always got each others' backs in the field, but tension inside the firehouse will he higher than ever during Rescue Me's 22-episode fifth season (premieres Tuesday at 10 pm/ET, FX). Particularly, Tommy (Denis Leary) and Lou (John Scurti) butt heads over — what else? — a woman. Actually, a couple of women, including one of Lou's old flames. We caught up with Scurti to find out if Tommy and Lou's friendship will survive, whether or not we'll hear any more of Lou's poetry and how the show plans to overcome its extra-long hiatus. How excited are you to have the show back on the air?
John Scurti: It seems like the last time we were on the air, polio was rampant. But I have a funny feeling that our fan base has actually gotten bigger because of the extra time. I think we're one of those shows that once you get into it, you kind of want to get a whole season, darken your windows for a weekend and eat it up with a spoon. So I think people have had time to get caught up. We're coming back big, and I know that what we're putting out there, everyone is going to be really happy with. How do you keep the show fresh after four seasons?
Scurti: As an actor, we have a lot more leniency on this show — it's more fluid than anything else I've ever worked on. The script is not a Bible to us; we're able to make suggestions. Up until those cameras are rolling, and sometimes even during the camera roll, things are being updated and eliminated. [Co-creators Peter Tolan and Leary] listen to our suggestions, and things really move in some interesting ways in Season 5. It's new stuff, but there are some old faces that come in. Yes, we've heard one of Lou's old flames is coming back. Can you tell us who?
Scurti: There have been so many. [Laughs] His love life is like riding a roller coaster. But Milena Govich, who plays Candy, the prostitute who took Lou for everything, comes back in a big way. That has to cause some problems at the station, right?
Scurti: For the most part, the guys are OK with it — Tommy is not. He's looking at his best friend putting his hand right back into the fire. And at one point, Tommy and Lou come to what was written in the script as "the most violent fight in Rescue Me history." I think we fall short of that, but he and I have a great big hockey fight where everything in the room ends up on the floor. So, is the Lou-Tommy bromance in trouble?
Scurti: The fight stems from Tommy's refusal to let me be happy with [Candy]. He just won't let it lie. Tommy's the kind of guy who doesn't know that he's put too many straws on the camel's back. There's a couple times, actually, this season where he pushes Lou's buttons. What's one of the others?
Scurti: In the beginning of the season, Tommy and Lou end up locking horns over a woman (Karina Lombard) who appears on the scene, and we get a lot of mileage out of that. I mean, Lou shaves his mustache off for this woman. Sounds like Lou is going to be just as busy as he was with the nympho nun last season.
Scurti: [Laughs] There's a great tradition in television of giving these character actors beautiful wives. It dates back to Fred Flintstone. I'm not sure how it happens, but I've had a good run. So will we see more of Lou the poet this season as he chases after this new lady?
Scurti: Well, she's a French writer named Genevieve. And Lou, of course, thinks, "Well, if she's a writer and I'm a writer...." So with Lou being blind to the fact that he should never pick up a pen again except to sign his paycheck, it gets his juices going. But luckily, you don't have to sit through any of his poetry. The show has already been picked up for a sixth season. What do you think that might hold for Lou?
I would love to find Lou semi-retired and running a geisha house. [Laughs] Seriously, I think there is going to be another 18 episodes, and I have a feeling — unless the stars realign — that that might be it. Where it will go, I don't know, but I would say that it will be as dark and as troubled it can. I think there's going to be some shocking things. I don't think it's going to end with Bob Newhart's wife waking up next to him. Is that darkness set up by dramatic events at the end of this season?
Scurti: There's a fair amount of darkness in Season 5. One of us gets cancer and it's really touch-and-go. There's a lot of soul-searching and facing the inevitable. But there's also some of the funniest stuff I think we've ever shot. One scene might have you weeping on the couch, and the next will have you laughing your balls off.