There are certain shows that people never want to end. One of those TV series was “The Closer” that was on TNT. Thankfully for fans of that show there was a spinoff series called “Major Crimes” that included most of the cast from “The Closer.”
One of those actors that made the transition is Phillip P. Keene. He plays the role of Buzz Watson. I was able to chat with Phillip about “Major Crimes,” his growth as an actor, and how the cast and crew transitioned from one show to the other.
Art Eddy: Recently you wrapped up Season 2 of “Major Crimes.” Were you happy with way this season progressed?
Phillip Keene: Very much so. I loved the way the season progressed. There was a lot of forward movement with all the characters. There were a lot of personal stories with all the cast members, especially with Buzz. For me that was really satisfying. To get to explain a little of his back story and the relationship of his family made it much more personal for the viewers.
AE: How did you think story arc for your character has evolved between the two seasons?
PK: Well it has evolved much more for Buzz since he is their go to guy within the squad. Before he was an observer in my opinion. He wasn’t giving a lot of insight. Now they really do rely on him to take footage of the crime scene. He is now a character that you can get into.
AE: When can we expect to see Season 3 back up on TNT?
PK: Well as usual there will be a lot of dead people. (Both laugh.) Each year we center the show around on a theme. Last year it was about identity. For this year I really don’t know because I just got the first script. I can’t really say one thing or another about the show. I did a quick look through the lines, but that is about it.
I do feel that Season 3 will be fabulous. If it is similar to the past two seasons the audience will enjoy this season.
AE: The show is a spinoff from the very popular show “The Closer.” Was there any pressure for you and the rest of the cast to live up to that show?
PK: I would say there were high expectations in regards to the show for the cast, the writers, and everyone else involved in the show. I know that the network was behind it since they ordered the show. The audience loved it and we have been getting really great numbers for the show.
We did most of our shows during last summer. The good news is that the audience continues to show up. It is great material. I love the writers that we have. They allow us to have input, which is really nice.
AE: It must have been a great feeling to work with a familiar cast since most of the actors from “The Closer” are on “Major Crimes.”
PK: It is. We are like a family. Being able to crossover from one show to the other we were able to retain 90 percent of the crew, which is really remarkable. I think that a lot of these guys and girls could get work somewhere else like working on a network show. They could make more money working for the big network stations. Still since it is such a great show and people all get along everyone wants to come back.
AE: I want to touch on something you just said about the difference of pay from network to cable shows. I feel that the cable shows are better than network shows. Do you agree?
PK: I think that the shows on the cable stations are very different than the ones on network TV. Cable shows don’t have the same restrictions. I know that there are standards and practices on both sides, but the shows I love to watch are on cable. The creative process is not that much interfered with on cable shows. So I do agree with you.
AE: Do you put any of your traits in your character Buzz Watson?
PK: I tried to keep as much of my personal traits out of the character of Buzz. I do not know how well I succeeded. My sister says it is hard to watch me because Buzz seems to act just like me. I tell her that I don’t know how to most of the stuff Buzz does on the show. I think Buzz is a much nicer person than I am too. So there you go. (Both laugh.)
AE: What have you learned about acting from being on these two great series?
PK: It has been amazing for me. When I first started I only had two small credits prior to working on “The Closer.” So it was a baptism by fire so to speak. I didn’t know where to find my light. I didn’t know how to speak and modulate my voice for a show. Or you don’t stare at the lens. You can’t really do that sort of thing. The only training I had was when I was in theater.
Even when I was auditioning there were things that I didn’t really master. Everyone on the show is really supportive. In the beginning of the series they knew I was green, but they wanted to see what I could do. One of the biggest mistakes that I did was that I didn’t ask any questions. I didn’t want to look stupid, which made me look stupid since I didn’t ask questions to get things right. That is the one thing I want to pass onto people. Just ask, ask, and ask. Some people won’t tell you, but others will. Everyone for me has been great. Plus it becomes easier over time.
AE: I have read that you like to renovate older homes. To me it seems like fixing up a home is a full time project on its own. How many houses have you worked on since starring on both shows?
PK: I bought a house in 1996 that was built in 1927. You can imagine that over the decades all the wrongs that were committed to this house. Layers of wallpaper over other wallpaper. Floor to floor carpeting over other carpeting. It was a disaster.
Yet I know that there would be work needed on this house. Through trial and error I have learned how to do lighting. How to fix things and change things around. It has been a long process. I am still working on it right now. It has been amazing. I help out friends with things around their homes too.