Interview with D.J. Qualls of "Memphis Beat" on TNT - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite
 

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By Suzanne

D.J. Qualls

Interview with D.J. Qualls of "Memphis Beat" on TNT 6/29/11.

I love this show, and Qualls plays such a great, quirky but likable character. He was very nice on this call. I enjoyed it, and I so look forward to seeing him grow on the show.

TURNER ENTERTAINMENT
Moderator: Chrissie Eckhardt
June 29, 2011 3:00 pm CT

Operator: Good day and welcome to the Turner Entertainment Hosted D.J. Qualls conference call. Todayís conference is being recorded.

At this time, Iíd like to turn the program over to Chrissie Eckhardt. Please go ahead.

Chrissie Eckhardt: Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining the D.J. Qualls Memphis Beat conference call. Memphis Beat is currently airing new episodes on Tuesdays at 9:00 pm Eastern on TNT.

The conference call is now open for questions. Please press star 1 to ask a question. Thank you.

Operator: And again, please press star 1 on your phone if youíd like to ask a question. Our first comes from the side of Jamie Steinberg from Starry Constellation Magazine. Please go ahead.

Jamie Steinberg: Hi, D.J. Itís a pleasure to speak with you again.

D.J. Qualls: Hello.

Jamie Steinberg: Iím wondering, what keeps challenging you about playing as a police officer on Memphis Beat?

D.J. Qualls: Well, this year we had Ė this show has totally changed. We shifted more to a more serious, I think, procedural kind of show.

Jamie Steinberg: Yes.

D.J. Qualls: Weíre still trying to keep the quirks that we had last season but this year weíre 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 Ė he was more, sort of, finding his footing you know as a brand new cop. And this year, Iím actually getting to do more cop work.

And I find that more interesting because I donít often get to play a lot of serious roles. And especially with the next episode, which is Ė every year, I get one episode thatís a Sutton episode on my character.

Jamie Steinberg: Yes.

D.J. Qualls: So episode 4, which is next week, you really see Ė I find a baby. And itís probably one of the hardest things Iíve ever had to do. But it was beautiful. Iíve seen it and Iím so excited for the audience to see it.

Jamie Steinberg: Why do you think people keep tuning in to watch Memphis Beat?

D.J. Qualls: Well, I think that itís Ė like, I said that weíve 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 thereís a lot of heart in our show. And, like, I read the message boards. I donít know Ė people say that they donít.

If you donít read your message boards, I think youíre stupid because you want to know whatís working and whatís not working about your show. And people just Ė they really seem to respond to the heart of it.

Jamie Steinberg: Right. Thank you so much.

D.J. Qualls: Thank you.

Operator: And once again, itís star and 1 on your telephone to ask a question today. And please try to limit your questions to one question and one follow up.

Our next comes from the side of Suzanne Lanoue from the T.V. Megasite. Please go ahead.

Suzanne Lanoue: Hi. I was wondering if your character would see any romance on the show any time soon.

D.J. Qualls: I do have a little bit of a romantic interest this season.

Suzanne Lanoue: Oh, good.

D.J. Qualls: We have a crime later in the season where somebody is doing identity theft. And the person from the bank whoís brought on to help us solve the crime and I have a little bit of a romantic Ė not ((inaudible)). We donít Ė itís 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.

Suzanne Lanoue: Well, thank you. I look forward to seeing it.

D.J. Qualls: Cool.

Operator: And once again, please press star and 1 on your phone if youíd like to ask a question. Next, weíll go to the side of Allison Ebner from Pop Culture Madness.com. Please go ahead.

Allison Ebner: Hi, D.J. Thanks for talking with us.

D.J. Qualls: Hey.

Allison Ebner: Hey. So how do you think this upcoming episode will shape Sutton for the future of this show? You know will this experience with the baby stick with him?

D.J. Qualls: It definitely does. And we Ė 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 Ė how I feel about myself and maybe started making me think about, maybe itís the time to start thinking about you know moving in a different direction in my life and settling down.

So maybe thatís something that Iím going to start looking at soon.

Allison Ebner: Awesome. So youíve been involved in a lot of different projects. What would you say youíve learned and taken away from Sutton and Memphis Beat, in particular?

D.J. Qualls: Well, when I first got the script sent to me, I was like, ďThereís no way I can pull this off. Thereís no way I can play a cop.Ē So much so that Ė and Iíve spoken about this before Ė but so much so that I didnít even Ė I turned down the initial audition for this show. I just, sort of, walked away from it.

I had a crisis of confidence and said, ďNo.Ē And this show Ė 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 Iím taking away from this is keep myself open and that Iím only limited by my own imagination. And we all are. So thatís what Iíll take away from this show.

And also, I have great relationships on this show. I get to work with Alfre Woodard, who Iíve known for 10 years. And Jason, Iíve also known for about the same amount of time, Jason Lee. And you know I love the show. Itís the best show Iíve ever had.

Itís a feeling of a family like Iíve never known professionally. When you do a movie, thereís 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 Iím going to take away from this experience just how wonderful it was to have that feeling of belonging.

Allison Ebner: Great, thank you.

D.J. Qualls: Thank you.

Operator: And again, it is star and 1 on your telephone to ask a question. Next, weíll go to the side of Alena Lamore from Lena Lamore.com. Please go ahead.

Alena Lamore: Hey, D.J. Itís a pleasure to speak with you. 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?

D.J. Qualls: Those were really fun to shoot. Those shooting range scenes were awesome. Yes, this year, you see Sutton and Whitehead Ė because last year, Sutton and White Head really didnít have a lot of interaction. Whitehead just sort of you know didnít 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 donít know why they were so nervous about me shooting a gun. Iím 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 Iíve got to say, for a second Ė I mean, Iím actually Ė personally, I donít really like guns. But it made me think, like, maybe I could own a gun. But then I walk away from it going, ďYou do not need a gun in your house.Ē

Alena Lamore: Can you tell us about some of the guest stars that are coming up?

D.J. Qualls: Oh, man, weíve had such great guest stars this year. And itís another improvement from last season. You know we just had Thomas Lennon on. He was so amazing. We have Gail OíGrady comes on the show this year.

Weíve also had Ė oh, gosh. Hold on, let me think. Weíve had Jordy Masterson, who is Danny Mastersonís little brother Ė was just on the show. I mean, weíve been really blessed with the quality of actors that come on the show. Itís been amazing.

Alena Lamore: Thank you.

Operator: And once again, please press star and 1 if youíd like to ask a question. Next, weíll go to the set of (Cynthia Boris) from (Gellar).com. Please go ahead.

Cynthia Boris: Hi, D.J.

D.J. Qualls: Hi.

Cynthia Boris: I have to say, last night when Jason had the line about, ďI have an app for thatĒ before he breaks the window, I almost fell out of my chair laughing. It was so funny.

D.J. Qualls: Thank you. It made me laugh, too.

Cynthia Boris: That was a great line. I wanted to ask about the music on this show. Itís such a big part of creating the feeling. Iím wondering if you could just talk a little bit about you know about how that fits in and your feelings about the music.

D.J. Qualls: Yes, it definitely is a component. The music is a big component to this show because Memphis, if youíve 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 theyíre doing it for the pure love of it; theyíre not doing it thinking that theyíre going to get famous for doing it.

And thatís a big difference from what you see in cities like L.A., where you come here and if youíre good at something, you want to be famous for it. These people just do it for the love of it. And I think thatís been a Memphis tradition you know from the birth of, like, (Sack) Record and Son.

And because we actually donít do the show in Memphis Ė we shoot it in New Orleans Ė I think that that music is a really important component to the show to make it have a more authentic feel.

Cynthia Boris: Well, thatís great. I really enjoy it every week and I look forward to seeing what youíve got coming up. Thanks.

D.J. Qualls: ((Inaudible)).

Operator: And again, itís star and 1 if youíd like to ask a question. Next, weíll go to the set of Earl Dittman from Wireless Digital Journal. Please go ahead.

Earl Dittman: Hey, D.J. How are you doing?

D.J. Qualls: Iím good, how are you?

Earl Dittman: Doing great, doing great. I have to ask, 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?

D.J. Qualls: Well, I think it helps a lot, the fact that this is the third job Iíve had with Jason. I did my Ė I think it was my second or third movie with Jason, and then I was on ďEarlĒ for a few episodes, and then, now, this show. So Iíve known him a long time. And he was a friend before I did the show, which makes it Ė 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 Ė I mean, a lot of our show is on location outside in New Orleans in the summer time and thatís brutal.

Earl Dittman: Yes, thatís very Ė Iím in Houston, so thatís very brutal.

D.J. Qualls: And youíre pretty gnarly. And he always has a smile on his face. And, I mean, it starts from the top. Like, heís number 1 on the call sheet. Heís you know our hero, essentially, on the show. And so working with him Ė and when heís in a good mood, we canít help but be infected by that.

Earl Dittman: Yes. So he brings a whole lot of excitement and a lot of friendship and camaraderie to the set?

D.J. Qualls: Right, and levity. And he also is so appreciate of, like, his stand. Itís great to see how excited people get Ė people ((inaudible)) see him when weíre shooting on location. And a lot of what you donít see is, I mean, the crew is just as an important part of our show as the cast. I mean itís 200 people who are there to support us and stand out in the heat for us.

And heís great with them. And it makes them want to work harder for him and us.

Earl Dittman: Thatís great. Well, thank you so much and keep on putting out a great show.

D.J. Qualls: Thank you so much.

Earl Dittman: Thank you so much. Bye-bye.

Operator: And one last time, please press star and 1 on your telephone if youíd like to ask a question. It looks like thereís no further questions in queue. Iíll give one last opportunity; star and 1 to ask a question. Iíll pause for just a few more seconds.

All right, it looks like we have no further questions from the phone lines.

Chrissie Eckhardt: Thank you, everyone, for joining todayís call. As a reminder, Memphis Beat airs on Tuesdays at 9:00 pm Eastern on TNT. And a transcript of this call will be available within 24 hours.

Thank you so much, D.J., for joining us and for your time. And thank you, everyone, for participating. Have a great day.

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