The first season of NECESSARY ROUGHNESS ended with a literal bang as TK was shot, and the 2nd season has shown the long road for recovery for TK as he has battled substance abuse as a result of that injury. For someone dependent on his physical prowess and the perception of his physical superiority, TK has had a difficult time regaining his self-esteem and self-confidence while recovering emotionally, physically and mentally. For actor Mehcad Brooks, this roller-coaster ride of TK’s recovery has been a phenomenal gift and he has embraced it whole-heartedly. In a recent press conference call, Mehcad shared some insights about where TK’s journey will take him through the remainder of the 2nd season, as well as TK’s relationships to those closest him.
Can you talk about what’s coming up for TK when he returns to the team and what it means for his struggles with sobriety?
MEHCAD: TK coming back to the team is a little difficult at first because the most important thing, I think that somebody who’s battling addiction is it can’t be their job, it has to be their happiness and their sobriety. I’m dealing with that in my family right now, so I know what that’s like firsthand. Like, it’s tough and it’s also kind of tough to get through to people like that, who are looking for excuses to relapse and looking for excuses to shift blame, and so on and so forth. So it’s tough. It’s a tough road to travel for TK when he comes back into something that’s such a high competition level. Not to mention the New York Hawks have hired a star wide-receiver in his absence just in case TK can’t pull the cart up the hill. And this guy’s great. He’s scoring touchdowns left and right, and TK’s like kind of burning inside and wanting to get back to the field but he’s lost a bit of his step. He’s been in rehab. He’s had some time off from the field. He really hasn’t been training the way that these other guys have, so it’s a very difficult transition to get back into it for him. But in Terrence King fashion, he does what he can and I want to say he prevails, but you’ll have to wait and see.
Are we going to see a change in attitude between TK and Matt in the upcoming 5 episodes?
MEHCAD: When we first met TK he had a lot of growth to do, and then as the season’s progresses, so does he as a character. His growth is helped along with characters like Matty D, Nico, Dr. Dani, obviously, and later on coach. But he begins to grow up a little bit and I think that that starts to become very apparent after his realization that he’s an addict and the drug addiction and going to rehab and so on and so forth. So there is a lot of growth that you do see from TK coming up very soon. And as an actor, it’s interesting to play because like when we grow up, we have relapses with responsibility. We have relapses with our past selves, and TK’s no different. So he’s just a little more extreme than most of us. So it’s fun to play as an actor. TK has to move on to different things. It can’t just always be he’s either good at football or bad at football temporarily. So it has to be: where does he go from here? Like he’s a future Hall of Famer. He’s got a lot of things going for him, and he has to start looking at his life beyond his career and what’s in store for the future, and what’s in store for his own happiness. So that becomes a struggle like it is for everybody. But more so for him because of his past and where he is in his present tense.
Why do you think the relationship between Dani and TK is so successful? And, what are we going to be seeing between those two characters over the next few episodes?
MEHCAD: I think it’s a successful relationship because they’re two “fish out of water” and they kind of come into each other’s lives when they both need each other. Dr. Dani’s like a newly single parent and she’s kind of like getting back into the dating world, and she’s trying to figure out love for the second time in her life, and she’s in this new high-powered sort of male-driven world of pro football and pro athletics. And TK is in some ways a very unlikely perfect liaison to all that, just sort of catching her up on what’s going on in the world outside of being a homemaker right. And so he sort of eases her transition into world. Then she also does this for him, like he’s this guy who really needs some guidance in his life and hasn’t been able to listen to anybody and hasn’t had a positive female influence life. So when he finally is confronted with one ,they bump heads and they make friends. They have power struggles and so on and so forth, but I think she’s probably the only person that TK actually loves and respects in a way where he’ll listen to her. So there is that relationship sort of like almost at the buddy-cop relationship. Even though it’s really, really unlikely between the two of us physically, but it bodes the same. So I think it’s a familiar relationship that people understand and they want to see because we’re so different, but we get along. You’re going to see TK sort of struggling with his sobriety, and Dani helping him with that. Dani sort of figuring out her love life and figuring out her professional life, and TK making that more difficult, as he tends to do. Like only TK can do. He’s an acquired taste, but Dani’s thinking that he’s right and she loves him, so it is what it is.
Coming up, someone who gets more time and more focus is Marshall Pittman’s daughter. Can tell us if TK has much of a relationship with her this season? If there’s a lot of interaction between them?
MEHCAD: Yes. They start to build a mutually beneficial relationship. She struggles with addiction, so they kind of bond a little bit over that. But she’s not taking her recovery as seriously as TK is. They do start hanging out a little bit and one thing leads to another and then there’s an opportunity for TK to cross the line, and I’m not going to say that he does, but it’s definitely a good career move for him if he does. But we start to get a little insight into how much that he’s changed based on this relationship.
What kind of research went into the whole addiction and rehab storyline with TK? Did you do any kind of special research for it?
MEHCAD: I have a couple family members who are battling with addiction, one I’m not very close to; the other one I’m actually very close to. So I’ve seen it firsthand and it’s very tough. You don’t have to do that much research when it’s right there in your family to tell you the truth, and it’s been a long road for my family in that regard. I just kind of knew how to portray it accurately and also how to respect what people were actually going through.
How do you think TK’s relationship with the different members of the team should develop based on the changes he is going through?
MEHCAD: TK is a bit of a closed-book in many ways. But there’s a moment when he gets shown an example of bravery by one of his teammates who actually comes out of the closet, and I won’t say who it is. He basically opens up about who he is and the things that he has to work on, and things that he has to fight for in his life as well. So he does open up. He does open up a little bit and he starts to become somewhat of a different person.
Is there anything about TK that wasn’t originally scripted but you felt added to the character?
MEHCAD: Yes. There’s a lot. And the thing about that is whenever there’s a pilot script, the character is fairly bare-bones as to where that character’s going to go. But I was lucky enough and blessed enough to be part of a series where the creators have very little ego. What they do is they hire the actors to do their jobs is sort of finding where this character is going to go and sort of collaborating with their extensive ideas. So TK was written pretty different when I first read it, and then we had a few conversations and a few debates, and it got to the arguing stage, which is good. But we agreed that he’s got to be a lovable sort of asshole. He’s got to be a lovable — a sort of guy that you love but also love to hate in some ways as well. So he kind of wasn’t that., initially. At first, he was just kind of a guy that you sort of hated. So I’m glad that my ideas were listened to that we were there for each other and that we were collaborators rather than just sort of treating the actor as an employee. Sometimes that’s a good thing because the actor does not know what’s good for the character. But a lot of times, it works the other way where the actor can bring things to the character.
Since you play a football player and you have a basketball background, what do you think that brings that background into your character in getting roles?
MEHCAD: It fits into the character pretty obviously in the fact. Basketball and football, both takes a lot of coordination and dedication and practice, and you hate to lose, a competitive nature striving to be better every day. But that’s what sports is about. At least at the non-professional level, a lot of these guys get to a certain level and they get comfortable when they’re getting paid millions of dollars and they just don’t want to get hurt. But when we start as kids, we just want to get better and better and better, and I think TK has that aspect to him — as all the greats do. You look at someone like Kobe Bryant or like someone like Tom Brady or down the line Victor Cruz, if you look at these guys, they have that sort of childlike aspect to them where they just want to be a better player than they were yesterday. As far as that applies to in my personal life and my professional life to me as a person, it’s the same thing. It’s that competitive nature and it’s that refusal to accept a loss over time. That sort of applies that same dedication, that same structure of how to win to a career that’s very hard to obtain. There are millions of people who want a few hundred roles, and that’s difficult. Like I’m from Central Texas and had no sort of background in the arts, and my family is all academia. So it’s like for me coming off the plane in ’99 it was like, “Okay. What do I do?” So the only thing I could do was apply what I had learned in sports and academia and sort of apply myself and I compete against myself. Like compete against the actor I was yesterday. Compete against the person I was yesterday and try to be better than that.
About what’s coming up will TK get straight and behave? Is that going to work out for him or not? Does he obtain what he’s looking for?
MEHCAD: TK always tries to turn over a new leaf, and that’s the thing about him. It’s like you have to love the guy because he’s always trying. But at the same time, there’s a difference between trying and actually believing and doing. And I think he learns a lesson between trying to do something and actually saying, “What? Here are my actual limitations. Here’s the truth. Here’s my reality, and this is what I have to deal with. And I’m going to do it. I’m going to do this.” Basically the same way he made it to professional football. He didn’t try. He had to apply himself. He had to actually get there. . . . We all understand the difference between trying and doing, and so far, TK’s been trying which is why he fails a lot. So he’s going to have to learn a harsh reality between the difference of trying and doing very soon. There’s a difference between being childlike and childish, and being childlike is not taking “no” for an answer and doing, and doing, and doing and getting better at what you do. Being childish is like, “I’m going to try,” and sort of sugar coating that pill for yourself and lying to yourself and saying, “This is why this is not happening.” So he’s got a bit of both. He’s got to learn some lessons. I can tell you this; he does have a very selfless moment coming up in the finale.
What are the biggest life and career lessons you’ve learned on NECESSARY ROUGHNESS?
MEHCAD: The biggest life lesson I learned is probably also the biggest career lesson that I learned, and it’s probably one in the same, is that no matter what it is and no matter what it is you’re doing, and no matter how it is you may feel day-to-day, never take something that you love for granted. And I love this show and I love being on it. But when you’re in the thick of things sometimes and 14-hour days and so on and so forth you can start taking it for granted. We had a little scare where we didn’t know if the show was coming back or not, and that was really hard on me. That was really tough on me, and then I was sitting at home wishing for these 14-hour days. So I think I just really learned even this far into my career, just don’t take it for granted because it could be gone tomorrow.
To see how TK handles the transition back to sobriety and being there for others who may need him now that he has learned to confront his inner-demons and addictions, as well as whether he can actually gain back the trust of those who care about him, be sure to tune in for the return of NECESSARY ROUGHNESS on Wednesday, January 23rd at 10:00 p.m. on USA Network.
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