Qualls has been involved in a variety of projects over his time
in the industry. Perhaps you wouldn't expect him to don the
role of a cop, DJ himself will side with you on that one, but
that has been where he has found his home as Memphis Beat
goes underway with its second season. So, when we had the opportunity
to participate in a conference call with DJ, we asked him what
he's taken away from the Memphis Beat project in particular.
"Well, when I first got the script sent to me, I was
like, 'There's no way I can pull this off. There's no way
I can play a cop.' So much so that - and I've spoken about
this before - but so much so that I didn't even - I turned
down the initial audition for this show. I just, sort of,
walked away from it," DJ began.
"I had a crisis of confidence and said, 'No.' And this
show - the producers pursued me. And so I went in and I did
my initial reading and they offered the show to me because
they believed that I could do it. And so what I'm taking away
from this is keep myself open and that I'm only limited by
my own imagination. And we all are. So that's what I'll take
away from this show."
But that's not all he's taking away from it. "And also,
I have great relationships on this show," he continued.
"I get to work with Alfre Woodard, who I've known for
10 years. And Jason, I've also known for about the same amount
of time, Jason Lee. And you know I love the show. It's the
best show I've ever had."
"It's a feeling of a family like I've never known professionally.
When you do a movie, there's you know an end. The show is
open-ended and going for a very long time. And so you let
your guard down in a different way than you do in a film.
People really do become very close to you; I mean, your crew,
also. So I think that I'm going to take away from this experience
just how wonderful it was to have that feeling of belonging."
But the upcoming episode of Memphis Beat, "Flesh
and Blood," has also led both DJ and his character Davey
Sutton to another realization. In the episode, Davey finds
an abandoned baby in the car and has to learn some baby basics
in order to care for the newborn at the station. So we wanted
to know whether the experience with the baby will shape Davey.
"It definitely does. And we - I mean, it changes who
he is as a man. Sutton has some realizations about himself
and about what he wants for his future based on this experience
with the baby. I mean, it actually changed me a little bit.
It changed, sort of, what I - how I feel about myself and
maybe started making me think about, maybe it's the time to
start thinking about you know moving in a different direction
in my life and settling down. So maybe that's something that
I'm going to start looking at soon."
We're not sure that we could love DJ Qualls or Davey Sutton
anymore than we already do! If you want to read what else
DJ had to share with us, be sure to check below!
What keeps challenging you about playing as a police officer
on Memphis Beat?
Well, this year we had - this show has totally changed. We
shifted more to a more serious, I think, procedural kind of
show. We're still trying to keep the quirks that we had last
season but this year we're focused, I think, more on the crime,
a little less on, sort of, the quirk of being in the south.
And also, last year, my character was - he was more, sort
of, finding his footing you know as a brand new cop. And this
year, I'm actually getting to do more cop work.
And I find that more interesting because I don't often get
to play a lot of serious roles. And especially with the next
episode, which is - every year, I get one episode that's a
Sutton episode on my character. So episode 4, you really see
- I find a baby. And it's probably one of the hardest things
I've ever had to do. But it was beautiful. I've seen it and
I'm so excited for the audience to see it.
Why do you think people keep tuning in to watch Memphis
Well, I think that it's - like, I said that we've become
more of a standard procedural this year but also, we have
maintained that character focus kind of show where we really
try to create a show where people just want to tune in an
hour with these people. I think that there's a lot of heart
in our show. And, like, I read the message boards. I don't
know - people say that they don't.
If you don't read your message boards, I think you're stupid
because you want to know what's working and what's not working
about your show. And people just - they really seem to respond
to the heart of it.
Will your character see any romance on the show any time
I do have a little bit of a romantic interest this season.
We have a crime later in the season where somebody is doing
identity theft. And the person from the bank who's brought
on to help us solve the crime and I have a little bit of a
romantic - not relationship. We don't - it's sort of left
open. But it was really sweet to play. The actress, Jennifer
Masala, who plays the lady from the bank, was wonderful and
sweet and cute. And it was really fun.
Now, can you talk about filming the shooting range scenes
with Whitehead and are we going to see more Sutton helping
them out in the future?
Those were really fun to shoot. Those shooting range scenes
were awesome. Yes, this year, you see Sutton and Whitehead
- because last year, Sutton and Whitehead really didn't have
a lot of interaction. Whitehead just sort of you know didn't
like how green he was.
And this year, Sutton really starts to prove himself, so
Whitehead responds to it. The actual shooting of the scenes
were great. We had several days of prep. I don't know why
they were so nervous about me shooting a gun. I'm from the
south; I got a gun when I was 12 years old. But we got to
shoot in an actual police shooting range where all of the
people, all of the New Orleans Police Department trained.
And it took about, maybe 6 hours. I shot probably 150 rounds
during the filming of that.
And I've got to say, for a second - I mean, I'm actually
- personally, I don't really like guns. But it made me think,
like, maybe I could own a gun. But then I walk away from it
going, "You do not need a gun in your house."
Can you tell us about some of the guest stars that are
Oh, man, we've had such great guest stars this year. And
it's another improvement from last season. You know we just
had Thomas Lennon on. He was so amazing. We have Gail O'Grady
comes on the show this year.
We've also had - oh, gosh. Hold on, let me think. We've had
Jordy Masterson, who is Danny Masterson's little brother -
was just on the show. I mean, we've been really blessed with
the quality of actors that come on the show. It's been amazing.
I wanted to ask about the music on this show. It's such
a big part of creating the feeling. I'm wondering if you could
just talk a little bit about how that fits in and your feelings
about the music.
Yes, it definitely is a component. The music is a big component
to this show because Memphis, if you've ever been there, the
city is all music, all the time. You have these people who
have been performing for 30 years on Beal Street in these
barbecue joints and blues clubs. And they're doing it for
the pure love of it; they're not doing it thinking that they're
going to get famous for doing it.
And that's a big difference from what you see in cities like
L.A., where you come here and if you're good at something,
you want to be famous for it. These people just do it for
the love of it. And I think that's been a Memphis tradition
you know from the birth of, like, (Sack) Record and Son.
And because we actually don't do the show in Memphis - we
shoot it in New Orleans - I think that that music is a really
important component to the show to make it have a more authentic
What is your relationship like with Jason? How do you
get along with him? Is he a great guy to work with? Does he
welcome great fun improvisations or a meat and potatoes man?
Well, I think it helps a lot, the fact that this is the
third job I've had with Jason. I did my - I think it was my
second or third movie with Jason, and then I was on "Earl"
for a few episodes, and then, now, this show. So I've known
him a long time. And he was a friend before I did the show,
which makes it - I think it makes chemistry easier.
What I like about working with him most is that he keeps
the mood on the set light. We work very long hours. We shoot
in - I mean, a lot of our show is on location outside in New
Orleans in the summer time and that's brutal. And you're pretty
gnarly. And he always has a smile on his face. And, I mean,
it starts from the top. Like, he's number 1 on the call sheet.
He's you know our hero, essentially, on the show. And so working
with him - and when he's in a good mood, we can't help but
be infected by that.
So he brings a whole lot of excitement and a lot of friendship
and camaraderie to the set?
Right, and levity. And he also is so appreciate of, like,
his stand. It's great to see how excited people get - people
((inaudible)) see him when we're shooting on location. And
a lot of what you don't see is, I mean, the crew is just as
an important part of our show as the cast. I mean it's 200
people who are there to support us and stand out in the heat
And he's great with them. And it makes them want to work
harder for him and us.