STUMPTOWN's Michael Ealy on Embracing the Unknown in the ABC Drama - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

STUMPTOWN’s Michael Ealy on Embracing the Unknown in the ABC Drama

October 9, 2019 by  

Stumptown Michael Ealy

STUMPTOWN – “Rip City Dicks” – In hopes of becoming a certified private investigator, Dex seeks mentorship from veteran PI Artie Banks. Meanwhile, Hoffman grows suspicious of Grey after evidence proves that he has a connection to a victim in his case on “Stumptown,” WEDNESDAY, OCT. 9 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (ABC/Jessica Brooks)

For some actors, knowing as much about their characters—and having it on the page—is key. But for STUMPTOWN’s Michael Ealy, who plays Detective Miles Hoffman on the new ABC drama, he was drawn in by what he didn’t know about his character…and the show as a whole. But what he did know? It was special.

“This group is so unique and filled with real people,” Michael Ealy says. “It’s representative, it’s smart, and it’s fresh.”

The series follows Dex Parios, a vet-turned-private investigator who ends up working with the police to solve cases. Ealy’s Hoffman is Dex’s police contact—and occasional partner in bed. But this isn’t exactly a tortured love story; neither is pining for more.

Ealy dives into the duo’s complicated dynamic, why he took a chance on STUMPTOWN, how his time on ALMOST HUMAN changed his approach to television, and more…

You’re no stranger to television, but it’s been a bit of time since you were on a show at its launch. What was it about this series that made it feel right?
Instantly, the show felt different. I’ve seen a ton of pilots. I must have read four or five this year, because I hadn’t done a pilot season in four years. And this one stood out, because I couldn’t categorize it. And I couldn’t tell you what the next episode was. More importantly, I couldn’t tell you what episode 7 was going to look like, let alone season 2.

The first thing I told Jason [Richman] and David [Bernad], the producers, when I got this was, “Guys, I just need you to know, my character that you want me to play, he’s underwritten. And I know people don’t say that when they want a job. But I’m telling you, I like that. If you’re asking me to come on-board, you clearly want to give me something to do. But at the same time, just know, I find it intriguing that I don’t know where he’s going.”

I can read a pilot and know this [hypothetical] character is going to be alcoholic by season 2. He’s probably got two kids, but it’s not good to one of them. You can see those signs come in, typically, from a show. This one, I was like, “I don’t know.” And because it’s based on a graphic novel and set in a city that hasn’t been over saturated by production, I’m enamored with the potential of where the characters can go. And the stories that we can tell.

STUMPTOWN – “Forget it Dex, It’s Stumptown.” – Dex Parios – a strong, assertive and sharp-witted army veteran with a complicated love life, gambling debt and a brother to take care of – works as a PI in Portland, Oregon. With only herself to rely on, she solves other people’s messes with a blind eye toward her own, finding herself at odds with the police and in the firing line of criminals, on the series premiere of “Stumptown,” WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 25 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (ABC/Mitch Haaseth)

The Dex and Hoffman relationship is interesting, because it’s almost like they’re in a connection triangle with Jake Johnson’s Grey. It isn’t quite a love triangle, but there’s certainly a very different bond she has with Hoffman versus Grey. In your mind, how would you describe what’s going on with Dex and Hoffman?
I’d say the dynamic between Dex and Hoffman is very…it’s kind of like an ass-backwards Bonnie and Clyde. It’s more…they have a certain type relationship. But it’s so unconventional. And they don’t look for what people typically look for on an ABC show, which is to define yourself by your relationship. That’s not what they’re seeking. And I think there’s a ton of people out there who will see, when you see Dex, isn’t it nice? To see someone kind of like you? She doesn’t get it right. And a lot of people in life don’t get it right, because they don’t get it like the movie. And we embrace that. And I think all the characters kind of embrace the reality of life. It’s messy. It’s complicated, and you’re going to make bad decisions.

Do you think he’ll eventually view the decision to bring in Dex to be a bit more legit might end up being one of his decisions?
I think Dex could be a headache for him. So it’s one of those things where I think with Dex, there’s going to be…you know, there’s gonna be some headaches, you know that. But you also know that the advantages are worth it. And I’m not talking about [their personal interactions]…I’m talking about the results that she’s able to get that I can’t get because I got all of this other [procedure restrictions]. It’s also important: she’s going to blend in a lot better than me.

The hardest thing I think would be if and when her life is in jeopardy. That’s where I think you’re going to see Hoffman hesitate. Especially with this past.

Dex is working to get a bit more official, but in many ways, it feels like Hoffman is the character currently most straddling both worlds of the show. How much will that continue?
You know, there’s definitely some things he will keep from his boss. And there’s some things he will share with his boss. He’s going to kind of live in both worlds for a little bit. That can get messy. But I don’t think he’s afraid of that.

As witty and dry as the humor can be, the stakes can get high when people’s lives are in the middle of it. And that’s going to happen.

You mentioned you haven’t done a pilot in four years. You’ve obviously been in movies, plus shows like SECRETS AND LIES and THE FOLLOWING since that time, but was ALMOST HUMAN the last pilot you did? If so, how did that process and that first season experience impact how you approached pilots?
What I didn’t like about ALMOST HUMAN going off the air [was] it was the first time I really felt the magnitude. SLEEPER CELL was one thing; I felt that for years and had just gotten over it. And then ALMOST HUMAN gets knocked off the air, and it felt like PTSD at that point.

There’s something to be said for putting together the hard work to bring a show to life, to go into people’s living rooms every week. And then pull it away from them. I didn’t like it and it left a bad taste in my mouth. So any show that I jumped on after that was something that was already going on. And that was fun. And this was the first time I was actually ready to go back and kind of deal with the repercussions and say, “Look, if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.” But I also felt like—watch this be the one that works. We have nothing but support from ABC. I’ve never been on a show that’s been so highly-supported, so highly touted. And I think for good reason.

STUMPTOWN, Wednesdays, 10/9c, ABC


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