Kenny Johnson SAVING GRACE Interview

It took me a while to find the time to start Saving Grace when it first premiered.  Not for any reason other than I simply didn’t have time, but the minute I tuned in, I didn’t stop watching.  I actually find myself unable to stop watching and Monday nights are my favorite TV night because this show is on.  Holly Hunter is raw and bitter and powerful and wonderful in the character of Grace Hanadarko (who is definitely in need of saving).  But the main reason I tune in has a lot to do with Grace’s partner at work and at play, Ham Dewey.  I had the chance to talk Kenny Johnson, who plays Ham, to celebrate the great part 2 of season 2 that this show is having, why he loves his character, and who he wants to work with (the list goes on and on).

TakeFiveGal : My favorite thing about Saving Grace is Ham Dewey!

Kenny Johnson : [Kenny laughs]

I’m always interested to hear what about a character drew someone to playing it, so why did you want to play Ham?

I wanted to play Ham number one because Holly Hunter was on the show.  Number two, anything she was going to take on, I knew that the pilot was going to be good, and the characters would be good.  When I read the character of Ham, it just seemed like he was this good old southern Oklahoma boy, he gets to jump in bed with Holly Hunter’s character, and he’s married to somebody else, and I thought, well, I’ve never done anything like that, so it was going to be fun, man.   I thought it was written pretty great!

You had a very dramatic last season with his brother dying, and Ham kind of going to a really dark place.  Will we see more of that come out this season, or is he in a better place this year?

Well, I think a little time has gone by between when he was really jacked up and asked Grace for some time off and didn’t know how to deal with himself emotionally. I think he struggles with his decision.  He partners up with Butch and those guys seem to butt heads and they don’t really do things the same way, so there’s an interesting chemistry going on there.  Then Christina’s character with Holly, he questions that.  Two females, they’re kind of tiny, are they going to have each other’s backs.  Being in love with Grace, he definitely questions that.  When this whole thing pans out, she definitely does not let him back in the way the same way they were before.  I think it causes more tension than the residue with his brother, so there’s now the residue of the decision that he made with Grace so it’s just not as easy between them, you know?

What are some of your favorite things about your character?

Favorite things about my character.  I think he’s, I like the fact that he’s got a sense of humor, he’s loyal.  I like the fact that he’s paranoid to deal with little birds.  He gets to have a lot of fun with Grace’s character, I think his attraction to Grace is really a fun thing for him.  He’s in love.  Hopelessly and helplessly in love with Grace’s character.  I like the fact that he loves to take down bad guys.  His loyalty also lies within what he does for a job and he does not mind giving his life if it’s going to mean making the place a better place to live.  He’s that kind of guy.

What are some things that we have to look forward to, coming up?

Oh, conflict, conflict, conflict [laughs].  There’s a lot of conflict, a lot of drama that goes on!  There is some kind of crazy sexual endeavor that goes on in an episode.  There are some reoccurring roles on the show start bringing in other characters, where they fall in love with them.  Clay’s dad falls in love with somebody, so she comes in, Kathy Baker, for a couple episodes.  She’s really, really good.  I think there’s a lot of darkness that comes out of Bobby being undercover, and there’s a lot of tension between Butch and Bobby that come in also through the rest of the episodes.  And then Ham and Grace.  Ham and Grace go back together.  It’s good.  They’re in and out.  They’ve always been like brother sister, lovers, best friends, love hate relationship in some ways.  That goes on, so it’s pretty interesting.

I actually came in late to the show, but then ate it all up right away in one sitting.  It’s a show that people can really jump right into. Why is now a good time to start watching?

I think it really hit its stirde with the relationships between people.  The writing’s really good.  The second season, I think has definitely upped itself from the first season.  The character that’s on death row, his whole storyline is a really interesting one.  I think the questions of, I don’t want to say religion, but people’s faith, what they believe in and second chances, and taking responsibility for what you do in life.  I think it jumps right into it now as much as it did in the first season. I think it’s a perfect time.  You had Christina Ricci, Holly is so deep into her character.  Everyone else is doing pretty great stuff, so I think it’s a great time!

Do you get a lot of downtime to watch other shows?

I don’t.  I watched a bit of The Shield.  I watch Trust Me, the new shows that are coming on, like Leverage.  TNT shows.  I watch Damages, Nip/Tuck a little bit.  And just reruns of Seinfeld, man.  I just need to laugh a lot.  My daily dosage is at least two or three episodes of Seinfeld.

Is there anybody that you would love to work with?

Oh, are you kidding me? [laughs]  Meryl Streep, you give Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp.  I could go down the line.  Kate Winslet.  I could name a hundred of them right now!  You know, Daniel Day-Lewis, Anthony Hopkins.

The list goes on!  That’s one of the hardest questions I pose to people because they always say “I could go on forever’!

Yeah!  There are so many good actors there, and so many stories to be told.  Please let me be a part of it, you know? [laughs]

You mentioned the TNT shows that you’re watching.  Doesn’t it seem like TNT has really come into its own and producing the shows that people really want to tune into?

Yeah, I mean, outside of network television, TNT seems to really have programs that people tune into, and they keep coming back to.  They do a great job of pushing their shows, number 1, and then number two, they’re able to realize what the mass audiences are kind of into.  Leverage is doing great numbers; The Closer is doing great numbers.  Our show is doing great numbers.  They have a Jada Pinkett Smith project that’s coming out this summer that sounds really, really good.  They have one with Ray Romano and Scott Bakula, and Andre Braugher, I think is in it.  You get three amazing actors on that show.  I think TNT is doing a really great job, man!

What else do you have coming up besides Saving Grace?

Right now, I have scheduled a movie after this season of Saving Grace which is called The Falling which is to do with the war over in Iraq right now.  It was based on Pulitzer Prize winning letters that they wrote into a book.  The director, Sydney Fury, got the writes to the book and then put it into a film version.  That is the only film that I have coming up after this season.

All New Episodes of Saving Grace Mondays at 10/9c