Michael Raymond-James settles into a spot not far from an outdoor heater on the patio of the Langham Huntington Hotel. He and co-star Larenz Tate are making the interview rounds to talk about their new NBC series, “Game of Silence.”
Before we start chatting about the drama that looks at a group of friends dealing with a deep, dark secret from their past, I get to tell Raymond-James how much I enjoyed his work on “Once Upon a Time.”
“Thank you. I really enjoyed that role,” he says. “It was a real departure for me.”
He played Neal Cassidy, the son of Mr. Gold and the former love of Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison). His time on the show ended when Neal lost his life.
It’s been easier for Raymond-James to deal with losing the role (at least for now, since no one on “Once Upon a Time” is ever really dead dead) because of his new series.
“Game of Silence” looks at how one event can change a person’s life. Raymond-James says that we all have these kind of moments with some being bigger than others. The Detroit native jokes that there are many times in his past where he probably should have died, but he’s kept going and now has a long resume that includes appearances on “True Blood,” “Terriers” and “ER.”
He’s certain that these kind of life-changing moments are why viewers will be able to understand what the characters in the series are facing.
“It’s not so much the act but what you are left with,” Raymond-James says. “Everything boiled down to its nut is just raw. We have all felt that thing. We all have experienced trauma in various ways.”
The other element of “Game of Silence” he expects viewers will relate to is the close bonds of friendship the group has that is more like family.
“These sort of friendships have seeped into the DNA of who they are. They can’t take away their past. They can’t take away that trauma that happened. That’s a bond that will forever hold them together,” Raymond-James says. “They have no box to sort of put that in and move forward without the survival instincts of collective group. We each bring something to the table in terms of how we handle it, how we deal with it. And together as a group, it sort of makes a whole.”
“Game of Silence” airs 10 p.m. Thursdays on NBC (Channel 24.1, KSEE).
Hollywood has too many stories about young actors who spiral out of control and eventually suffer a fatal crash. It looked like Jodie Sweetin was headed for such a fatal end after her time playing Stephanie Tanner on “Full House” ended in 1995.
Soon after the ABC comedy ended, Sweetin started drinking and as she revealed in her memoir, “unSweetined,” that escalated to the use of ecstasy, crack and methamphetamine.
She avoided the kind of crash that ended the lives of so many young actors and is now starring on the Netflix series “Fuller House” and was picked as one of the contestants on this edition of “Dancing With the Stars.”
Sweetin found it easy to return to the character who gave her so much fame.
“I think that even when we were young on the show the characters were in some ways a reflection of who we actually were, and so, coming back to this, the writers really took into consideration the kind of the women that we have become,” Sweetin says. “We met with the writers and really were able to share stories about our parenting and our lives and what’s going on with us, and they really were wonderful at incorporating that into these characters. It was like stepping back into somebody that was really familiar. And then, there was some fun getting to kind of fill in the blanks of what’s happened to these characters over the past 20 years.”
Happily for her, the fill-in material for the TV show doesn’t include the kind of darkness she faced in the real world.
The “Full House” cast stayed in touch over the years but being reunited on a TV set was like a big homecoming for Sweetin. Everything seemed very natural from the first moment.
“It was the same jokes and the same sort of things that we kind of shared collectively as a group. It’s like when you get back together with a group of friends that you maybe haven’t seen for a really long time or haven’t been with that intensely, you just pick up right where you left off,” Sweetin says. “My kids were there for the first week, and I have a picture of me and my two daughters sitting on the couch in the set. And that was a moment that I never in a million years though that I would be able to have.
“I cried after I took that picture. I thought, ‘Wow I walked away from this when I was 13 years old, and I thought, “That’s it. Goodbye.” And hello again. What a beautiful moment.”
Back to work: John C. McGinley has been cast as the lead in their new IFC comedy-horror series, “Stan Against Evil.” McGinley, best known for the comedy “Scrubs,” will play disgruntled former police sheriff Stanley Miller. Eight episodes will air in the fall.
Save the date: The 2016 “Thursday Night Football” schedule on CBS will start Sept. 15 with the New York Jets playing the Buffalo Bills.