NECESSARY ROUGHNESS Set Interviews With Series Star Scott Cohen and Series Creator Craig Shapiro

Necessary Roughness - Scott Cohen as Nico

A few weeks ago I traveled to Atlanta to visit the set and speak to the actors and creator of USA’s new series, NECESSARY ROUGHNESS. You can check out my article and photos from the set here.

Our first interview of the day was with Scott Cohen, who plays the mysterious and very sexy – as he cheekily (and repeatedly) pointed out to us – Nico on the series.

On his character

When asked about the ultra-cool and mysterious Nico, Scott said that more information will continue to be revealed about the characters as the show goes on and some episodes will be “all about Nico and his past,” remarking that it was sure to be “Very mysterious and very sexy.”

When asked to describe Nico in his own words, Scott said that he considers him a “fixer” and that he “knows everything there is to know about anything and knows much more than what he lets on.”

He also said: “[Nico]’s a good guy I think, but I think that he can do bad things.”

On where he get his inspiration from to play Nico

Asked out what inspires him to get into the mind of his character, Scott said that the “energy” of Nico came from Clive Owen, because he has watched the actor a lot and has watched interviews with him and liked the way he approached his characters. He also mentioned that when he first did the pilot, he drew inspiration from his wife’s family, which he told us is “kind of mafia related” and thought that Nico would be that kind of guy.

On whether there are any “real Nicos” out there

Scott assured us that yes, there are indeed real Nicos out there in the world but usually they are agents that do a heavier type of security for sports stars and other talent. But though these people exist and are there to protect the people in their charge, he was never allowed to meet with them because that would defeat the entire purpose of their existence.

On whether there any boundaries that he thinks Nico won’t cross

When asked about Nico’s boundaries, Scott honestly admitted that he hopes that there aren’t any because he feels that would be more of a challenge to play and a lot more interesting for the audience. He mentioned that in an upcoming episode we will see just how far Nico is willing to go when we get a glimpse into his past and what he has done there.

On his other cast mates

When the subject of his cast mates came up, Scott was quick to praise his fellow actors. He said he felt that “I am part of one of the most balanced cast I’ve ever been a part of in my life.”

Regarding star Callie Thorne (who plays Doctor Dani Santino), he said: “Working opposite Callie is one of the greatest joys I’ve ever had in my life. [She is] the easiest, most talented woman, actor, I should say, I’ve ever worked with.”

In fact, he didn’t stop there and had plenty more praise for the series star, saying: “She is awesome. She’s really, really awesome. She’s a great actress and her ability to be challenging and natural and present is [something].I’ve really never seen before,” adding “she’s incredible. She’s really, really incredible and I’m not saying that because it’s our show. I think she’s a phenomenal actress. It’s really an honor to work with her.”

On the chemistry between Doctor Dani and Nico

Scott and Callie knew each other before shooting the pilot and Scott said that he knew the minute he walked on set and said his first line that the chemistry between their two characters (which is currently still just a friendship) was going to be something great. He also said that working with her is very easy because Callie has a way of making people feel comfortable and she makes him feel like they “make something bigger and better than what was just written on the page.”

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After our interview with Scott, we were taken to tour the sets. Later in the day, we sat down with series creator Craig Shapiro, who took time out from his extremely busy schedule (which we witnessed first-hand as he was interrupted with not one, but two, phone calls during the interview) to answer some questions about the show.

On how Necessary Roughness came about

Craig told us that show is inspired by (rather than based on) a true story and that there is a real Dr. Donna Dannenfelser who was a therapist for the Jets in the 90’s. Craig met with her and after a three hour meeting in a coffee shop he knew that he had to do her story because “she had so many stories that were hilarious and moving.”

He liked the idea of a woman struggling to juggle taking care of her family and taking care of her patients at the same time. Dr. Dona started out seeing just football players but soon began seeing all kinds of athletes as well, which promises a lot of interesting stories for the series.

On what kinds of storylines we can expect on the show and if there are any he would consider off limits

When asked about future storylines, Craig did point out that, this being a USA show, things are a little lighter than maybe shows on networks like FX. He said that while they can do pretty much anything they want to on the show, they will try to keep things from getting too gritty or dark. The show is more about finding people at a point of crisis in their lives and then having Dr. Dani help them through that.

On choosing the star of the series

When creating a show, Craig said that often people will write a script and when picturing a character they will base it on a well-known actor just to get the voice of the character right. Interestingly enough, when they were working on this show, someone suggested that Dr. Dani was a “Callie Thorne type” and because Craig had seen her on Rescue Me and The Wire, he thought that she sounded right.

All along, they wrote the script with a Callie-type actress in mind and realized if she couldn’t do it, who would? Turns out Callie wasn’t available at first and that’s exactly what they found themselves trying to do; find another person who would fit the role. After seeing more than 120 actresses for the Dr. Dani, they lucked out when Callie became available and sent in an audition tape.

On the character of TK and Mehcad Brooks’ portrayal of him

When talking about the character of TK, Craig said that Mehcad blew away his expectations. He remarked that the actor fills the role and brings such humanity to the character, in ways he never imagined, making TK extremely real in his eyes. He told us that Mehcad has “an amazing inner light”, adding: “It’s because he’s not just a good actor, but [a] deep soul.”

He said that when casting Mehcad, they met the actor in a coffee shop and fell in love with him in the first thirty seconds and knew immediately that he was the right guy for the role.

On casting the role of Nico

When it came to casting the role of Nico, Craig said that this was one of those times when having a good casting director is important. Scott Cohen was recommended to him by a casting director and though Craig loved him in roles like Kissing Jessica Stein, he hadn’t seen the actor do anything like what he had in mind for Nico. But the casting director insisted and so they flew Scott out from New York to LA, where he got the roll on the spot.

Be sure to check out Necessary Roughness airing Wednesdays 10/9c on USA Network.

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