CDL Exclusive: Interview with ‘Necessary Roughness’ Star Callie Thorne

CDL Exclusive: Interview with 'Necessary Roughness' Star Callie Thorne

Actress Callie Thorne has made a name for herself appearing in many of television’s most celebrated series. She is perhaps best known for her performance as Sheila Keefe on the critically acclaimed, Emmy-nominated FX drama “Rescue Me,” and now is enjoying accolades starring as Dr. Dani Santino on USA Network’s Necessary Roughness. Thorne is enjoying her run as a therapist for a fictional NY football team and recently took a few minutes to answer questions about the summer season finale of Necessary Roughness, which will air on Wednesday, Aug. 29th at 10p.m.

CDL: Can you tell us a bit about the summer finale of Necessary Roughness?

Callie Thorne: I think that, you know, it’s a perfect lead in to this heightened state of her life and everybody’s life because of T.K. being the main connection between our main characters. And when he struggles, we all struggle.  I think because Dani is in vulnerable state in her own personal life, with, you know, what’s going on with her kids, and (Ray Jay) specifically and the trouble that he is most probably leading himself into.  And as a mother, Dani can’t, as much as she wants to control it, she can’t. And she can’t control her feelings. I mean she made the sacrifice to let Matt go, but that doesn’t mean that she feels, you know, solid with herself. She feels like she did a solid, but it leaves her in this very sort of wondrous question mark.  But I think, as is true in many other people’s lives, it then becomes easier for her to zone in on the work, to zone in on T.K. and not, you know, turn away, not let things go, and, like, even though Matt and Nico at first were not so sure about whether or not there was a real problem with Terrence and a possible addiction, she was not going to let that go, you know, she was continue, whether it was doing it on her own or being able to convince them. And that path that we see them all go on this week is – it’s very all of a sudden life goes into fast forward, and everyone’s in place where you’ve got to make a choice. And whether or not she is trying to help T.K. make the right choice in regards to himself and being honest with himself, it’s hard for her to do that on her own, but it makes it easier to help someone else see the light.  And it also helps to drive others around her and it was fun, you know, even though we were shooting some really heavy stuff, those scenes were really – we were also shooting at a very fast pace because there were a lot of locations and, you know, you’ve got to make your days, and so it was a really crazy, you know, couple of weeks, but an enormous amount of fun because everybody’s separate story lines are so rich that we all were kind of like chomping at the bit, you know. And that was pretty damn cool.

CDL: Do you like that the fans are beginning to be very vocal about who Dani should be with, either Team Matt or Team Nico?

Callie Thorne: I love it, I love it, I love it, because you know, that is – that idea of Matt being this very solid good man, and you know, he’s like a hug, do you know what I mean? He’s like a delicious, romantic hug, and then Nico is the bad boy that you can’t figure out and all you want to do is figure him out, which of course, you know, is just as sexy as, you know the good guy.   I was very excited that the writers leaned a little bit more towards the triangle because I want to know, as Calle, I want to know where, or you know, what she’s going to do and how she’s going to do it. And so if it’s that much more exciting it’s making me as an actress be like, come on guys, give me a little hint, because sometimes you don’t want to know the end result as an actress, and there are times when you’re just a fan yourself.   

I’m split as a fan because it literally happens scene to scene. Like if I’m in a scene with Marc Blucas, I’m like, oh, she’s got to end up with Matt, she has to. And then if I’m doing a scene with Scott Cohen, I’m like, always thinking, oh, no, no, no, she’s got to be with the guy that, you know, she’s got to try and put together like a puzzle.  She is the fixer, and, you know, the idea of this fixer needing help to be fixed herself. And in regards to Matt, it’s, you know,  how we’ve seen that relationship come to such a big wall in regards to the fact that Matt definitely wants kids, and Dani sort of makes this big sacrifice because she doesn’t want kids, and she doesn’t want to feel like she’s stopping Matt from his own dreams.  It’s obvious that they love each other, but now they’re in this weird limbo. And it kind of sets up her feeling vulnerable and – in regards to her relationship with Nico as well, and how they are polar opposites and always have been as men, and in her life and as we’re coming to this summer finale, because she – we see her in her private life, in the most vulnerable in regards to her kids as well, and points that they’re reaching in her life, it’s sort of, every which way she turns, everything feels like a question.  And she can’t answer them. And yet, where we go to in a little bit is that we finally see her reach out for help and (Peter McNichol), who plays the therapist, is genius. And those therapy scenes — I don’t want to give anything away — but, they’re really eye-opening for her, and very surprising. 

But this point now, this strange limbo that can be a little bit paralyzing, leaves her to wonder whether or not she’s making the wrong decision with Matt and possibly finding herself losing the love of her life and then because of the work circumstances, suddenly it – there’s this open possibility with Nico, which then throws her into, you know, mass confusion.  And the one thing that it does do, it keeps her grounded in the work, because that’s the one place that she can go to that she knows answers and she can, you know, use her own questions to help her guide her patients and help them.  But then at the end of the day, she’s still struggling and it – thankfully, you know, that’s what we do on our show, and we don’t tie everything up in a bow. And I think it’s very interesting for the audience to sort of be with her in the present and see that she is a woman, you know, with the relatable problems that everybody can find themselves in.

CDL: How do you feel about Dani’s relationship with T.K.?

Callie Thorne: Sometimes people say that my character is who connects everybody within our world, but more often, I feel like it’s T.K. and, because he holds so much an amazing spot in her heart, I think that, especially when we get to shoot those scenes, Mehcad and I, we also have a very different and separate and special friendship I think that was developed in the pilot. He and I really got on from the get-go and we have the same drive to tell a good story within the show, but we laugh and laugh and laugh. We have such the same sense of humor and he can break me in a scene faster than most people I know. I try to pride myself on no matter what’s going on, I’m not breaking, but, man, Mehcad will come up with the craziest improvs, and it doesn’t matter, like sometimes I’ll just have to walk off camera, I’ll have to walk off set and go compose myself, but because of that chemistry that we have as friends, I think that it comes across on camera.

Whether it’s, you know, a parental connection that Dani has with him, or whether it is just, it can’t be categorized because it’s – he’s never met a woman like Dani and she’s never met a man like him, and so I think that there is this real sense of trust and there is a real sense of being — well, previous to where we find ourselves now, there has always been a place where they can let, and especially T.K., let his defense down.

CDL:  Will we be seeing her son Rayjay getting into more trouble?

Callie Thorne: Yes. That comes up in a little bit, and you know, because (Rayjay) is sort of – he’s becoming man. And he’s – he finds himself in a situation where he – he’s wanting and needing to make these choices that, as mother, Dani can’t come to grips with. And, again, that’s a place where every mother finds herself at some point, whether it’s for the son or daughter. And I – the way the writers handle that hurdle – it is a parallel in regards to her own life and to some of the patients that come her way.  And I think that whether or not she makes mistakes, whether they’re with her love life or with her children or her own placement in her life, there all seems that – I think and hope will make others contemplate their own choices in life and that there’s- I don’t think that things can ever be right or wrong, it’s just the paths that you take, the forks in your life.  And that’s really where we find the – in the season finale, is it’s about the forks in life, and that there’s no right or wrong, it’s just the way that you handle yourself and following the truth that you find yourself in. And that’s just struggle. That’s hard to do, but it makes everything that much more worth it.

CDL: How do the fans treat you inAtlanta where you film?

Callie Thorne: In Atlanta, we are incredibly well-received as a cast, and, you know, I don’t have a lot of free time, but that free time I do spend, you know, with the boys, whether we’re going to movies or going to dinner, or sometimes, you know, with our crew because we’re such a tight-knit family that even though we’re together for 12, 13, 14 hours a day, they’re also the people that you want to go laugh with after work and dish, and you know, sort of giggle about the good and bad times.  And here, wherever we go, people – it’s really funny, because they may not know our real names, but they – everywhere I go in Atlanta, somebody is yelling out, “Hey, Doc,” which always makes me giggle.  And I love it, you know, for “Rescue Me”, people always yelled out “Crazy Sheila,” right? And here, it’s “Hey, Doc.” And you know, I even went on vacation over the Fourth and I was in Savannah, and, you know, it’s something that really warms my heart, because it just – whether or not people are connecting with the story lines or connecting with a certain character, I love that people are comfortable enough to come up and, you know, talk to me, and ask me questions about who I’m going to end up with.

And all of our fans, no matter how old or young, men or women, everyone just is always really very elated.  I love that people want to ask questions. It isn’t always, like, will you sign this, or you know, can we take a picture, people want to talk.  They’re always like, I’m sorry, you know, I don’t’ mean to bother you and we’re all like, Oh my God, you’re not bothering us. This is a joy, you know, because it’s easy to forget sometimes that the show is airing because we’re in Atlanta.  We’re not in New York or L.A. where you’re doing more press because that’s where the press, you know, a lot of the press is. And so it actually sort of feeds our egos, obviously, but it also sends, us running back to work and wanting to continue telling good stories.

CDL: How much research goes into playing a therapist?

Callie Thorne: I’m very lucky in that because the role is based on a real woman, that, you know, her life story, and how she got this particular point in her life. I have always had her, since we made the pilot, I’ve always had her to turn to in regards to things that,  could get confusing to me, whether it was about a particular issue or disorder, or how you handle yourself within sessions.  

I have had a lot therapy experience in my life myself. I love therapy. I’ve been going to therapy forever, and so I think that because I am so fascinated myself with the idea of always trying to figure yourself out and always trying to be honest with yourself, that you can make, you know, strong choices in your life, then it makes me that much more interested in the other side of it.  I am always learning. I am always – even if it’s just me doing my own research. And I’ve not been able to play a role like that before, and so, you know, but the main point being that I have Dr. Donna to turn to in times of great confusion or question. And for that I am blessed.

CDL: How do you feel that you’ve evolved by playing such strong female characters?

Callie Thorne: I feel very, very lucky to be in this place, you know, especially jumping from “Rescue Me” with a role like (Sheila) into the role of Dani, and you know, they are polar opposites – but one is not easier than the other. Though I have a lot similarities with Dani, how she is at work and how she – the drive that she has to, you know, follow a path for her patients and follow a path for herself, and that she, you know, has guts, or at last will fake it until she makes it.  You know, and I try to live myself that way. The fact that she’s a mother and, you know, also the place where she is in the triangle in her life and, you know, the idea of possibly losing the love of your life, those are things, at least right now, I know nothing about in my real life.  And it makes playing this character one of the richest times of my life because I have to do my homework. I have to sit and think. You know, sometimes with a role or with a scene, it’s something that you can just, you know, say, what would I do in this moment, and you just stay honest and you follow through on, you know, your connection with the other actor.  But there are a lot of moments in “Necessary Roughness” where, you know, I have to take a timeout. I can’t joke in between takes, which, you know, we are all wont to do. I have to sort of separate myself, and whether or not that means listening to particular song or remembering conversations that I’ve had with other women that are in places like that.  It’s why you (unintelligible), it’s why you become an actor. You want to find those places and tell those stories as honestly as you can, but it’s putting yourself through that thought process that will then, hopefully, elevate my real life and how I handle myself in my real life.  I can’t think of another job that would ever let me do that or ever lead me down those paths and I feel very grateful.

Tune in Wednesdays at 10pm to see the summer finale of Necessary Roughness on USA!