Gerald McRaney may be in his mid-60s, but he hasn’t slowed down a bit. After terrifying the tarnished souls of HBO’s “Deadwood” as murderous tycoon George Hearst, the “Major Dad” star went on to be a regular on CBS’ “Jericho” and NBC’s short-lived “Undercovers,” and has appeared in USA’s “Fairly Legal,” A&E’s “Longmire,” Netflix’s new “House of Cards” and FX’s “Justified” — where he was last seen on Feb. 12 having a blowtorch almost applied to his butchered leg.
“I don’t think I bled out,” McRaney tells Zap2it over lunch in Sherman Oaks, Calif. “The guy did, in fact, cauterize the wound.”
McRaney also played Capt. Patrick Murphy in several episodes of CBS’ romantic comedy “Mike & Molly,” which has a strange connection to Western drama “Deadwood” (which also starred Timothy Olyphant and Jim Beaver of “Justified”).
“The people who produce ‘Mike & Molly,'” he says, over lunch in Sherman Oaks, Calif., “have a love for ‘Deadwood.’ They’ve tried to hire everybody from ‘Deadwood’ that they can get their hands on to come do a guest thing. Just because they like the show so much, they want people to be on it.”
McRaney currently has a recurring role on TNT’s rough-edged LAPD drama “Southland,” airing Wednesdays. He plays Det. Hicks, a retired police officer who once trained Officer John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz). Now living on a boat in Marina del Rey, Calif., Hicks drinks too much and is a bit of a cautionary tale for the divorced Cooper, who is facing being a gay man alone at midlife.
“It’s a fun show to work on,” says McRaney, “because there are no prima donnas. There’s none of that stuff that goes on. Everybody’s like me, to a certain degree. They don’t care what it looks like on air. What they’re interested in is the process of making it, working together. All the actors are like this. There’s no, ‘Can I get more close-ups? Can I get more lines?’ No.
“The other thing that I like about it is, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a real cop around there. So the reality, it’s there.”
Cooper appears to be considering revisiting having a relationship with a woman.
“We’ll see how that goes,” McRaney says. “There’s a thing that happens with a certain amount of age, too, that sex, of whatever variety you might choose, ceases to be the most important thing in the world.”
However Cooper’s love life turns out, McRaney is definitely feeling the professional bromance.
“One of the most important things about Michael that I discovered is,” he says, “when the transport van pulls up — Michael and I arrived in two different vans — Michael and I both stand there and open the sliding door and help all the ladies out and hold their bags, the makeup ladies and the wardrobe ladies and all that.
“He’s an old-school gentleman. Apart from all the other stuff, that impresses me more than his ability as an actor or whether he’s successful or not successful. He’s a good actor. That impresses me. He’s good at his work; he takes his work seriously; he doesn’t take himself seriously doing it. And he comports himself like a gentleman.”
According to McRaney, just because Cudlitz is courteous to others doesn’t mean he lacks expectations.
“Mind you,” he says, “he won’t put up with anybody being lazy or not giving a decent effort, but he’s as far from a prima donna as you can get.
“He’s a man; he’s a mensch. He believes in what he’s doing. A lot of actors don’t. They’ll go along for the ride, be perfectly content to take the money, but they don’t commit. Michael commits.”