The Stars of Battle Creek Address the Elephant in the Room

February 26, 2015

The first post-Breaking Bad related project for its creator Vince Gilligan is bound to have some hype. While Better Call Saul sails along on AMC, there’s another Vince Gilligan project debuting this weekend, and for fans of his signature blend of humor and action, it’s not to be missed.

Battle Creek premieres March 1 on CBS, and stars Josh Duhamel and Dean Winters as a mismatched partners in Battle Creek, Michigan. Duhamel, who plays FBI Agent Milt Chamberlain, couldn’t resist sneaking to the real life town to get a feel for the city his character was descending upon. The weekend before he shooting began he snuck to Battle Creek, MI, to get a feel for the town.

“It’s really a beautiful town,” Duhamel said. “They have fallen on hard times, but it’s a really hearty group of people that live there, a really tough group. We just want to make them proud.”

Besides portraying a town in flux, Dean Winters (Detective Russ Agnew) couldn’t resist the script’s spin on the conventional cop drama.

“It felt like a fresh take on the buddy cop genre,” Winters said. “You have these two characters who are together who have a lot of respect for each other, but they’re not buddies to say the least. It was a very fresh take on the cop genre and that was my initial reason for taking the show. I felt like Vince put his stamp on the pilot, but [co-creator] David Shore really came in and wove this beautiful tale.”

For Shore, it was important to distance this show from other police procedurals.

“In the writers’ room, if we came up with a story that would be a great Law & Order episode, we just wouldn’t do it,” Shore said.

And Shore should know. He’s been a writer/producer for House M.D., Family Law—and Law & Order. Combine that with Vince Gilligan’s dark comedic tone and you can imagine the results. While the cast joked that they were having breakfast with Vince daily, his presence wasn’t a fixture on the set, but the cast and crew relied on him as a guiding force, calling him a “grandfather from afar.”

“He set the tone with the original script, and David really took it from there,” Duhamel said. “I think they have the same sort of understanding of this show and what it could be.”

“He was there when I needed him,” Shore said, mentioning that Vince often stepped in during network conversations and to ensure he felt empowered to make the project they believed in.

But a good script can only do so much—in a show like this the lead actors need to have a perfect report. Thankfully, the would-be-buddy cops got off to a great start.

“The chemistry between Josh and I was there from the jump,” Winters said. “I almost ran him over in my car.”

Apparently driving onto the set the first day Winters nearly plowed down Duhamel. Thankfully, no one was hurt—and the incident did nothing to stymie their chemistry.

Don’t miss the Battle Creek series premiere Sunday, March 1 at 10/9c on CBS.

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