He succumbed to rabies in “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in “For Colored Girls.” He was an undercover federal agent in “Sleeper Cell” and a top-notch attorney in “The Good Wife.” Now, Michael Ealy returns to the spotlight in the action comedy “Common Law,” premiering Friday, May 11 at 10 p.m. on USA Network.
“It’s like ‘Bad Boys,’ ‘Lethal Weapon’ — that kind of thing, except we’ve got so many issues between us that our captain makes us go to couple’s counseling,” said Ealy, while in Philadelphia with Steve Harvey to promote the hit feature film, “Think Like a Man,” which led the box office for two consecutive weeks.
Ealy stars as Detective Travis Marks in “Common Law,” which, according to the network, is about two cops with a problem - each other. Despite their differences, Travis and his partner Wes Mitchell (Warren Kole) are incredible detectives with a seven-year track record as the best detectives in the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division. When their constant bickering begins to disrupt their partnership, their captain forces them into couples’ therapy to save their “work marriage.”
“Tough-as-nails” therapist Dr. Ryan (Sonya Walger) is brought in to help them understand and resolve their conflicts, and confront their demons in order to enhance their ability to work together solving crimes.
Ealy, whose low, smoky voice belies his smallish stature and gentle persona, first captivated movie-goers as “Pretty” Ricky Nash in Ice Cube’s highly successful “Barbershop” series. However, he has since built his career on more dramatic roles, such as Beau Willie, the troubled war veteran in Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls.”
“When I first got in the business, it was very important for me to be taken seriously,” Ealy explained when I spoke to him recently at the posh Ritz Carlton. “I didn’t want my looks or anything like that to kind of overshadow the talent. I worked my ass off, and people don’t see — they just see the finished product. They don’t know how many nights I spent on the train working on my lines coming home from a waiter’s shift to get ready for this play I’m only doing on the weekends. People don’t know about that.
“But my thing was, ‘Show ‘em the talent.’ I needed to be taken seriously, so I went for the most difficult, challenging roles that I could find. I didn’t want any fluff. I didn’t want a romantic comedy. I didn’t want to do anything like that. All I wanted to do was the most cerebral stuff that I could find. ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’ was a dream come true for me. I never thought that they would let me play Tea Cake. Then, when ‘For Colored Girls’ came, it was a tough one, because the angle was, this is a man who is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
Now with a solid backlog of dramatic performances, Ealy can relax, enjoy the success of “Think Like a Man,” and have bit of fun in “Common Law.” Any yes, ladies. His eyes really are sky blue.