Walt! In the Name of the Law!
You've completed filming the first ten-episode run -- is there any resolution for your character's "dead at 42" plotline?
Perrineau: We actually don't, because the year isn't over. What happens is that Leo starts to move further and further into his neuroses, so while it started off really funny, it starts to get to a place that's like, "Oh, this isn't funny at all, actually." That resolves a little bit, but not totally -- it's a thing that the character's been worried about since he was 15 years old, when his dad died, so it plays pretty big for him. And his partner is there doing his own thing [Goldberg's character has a brain tumor], and they have to eventually try and figure out how they can help each other. So that's how that's going.
Leo turned 42 one month before the pilot episode. Do you know how far into the year Leo is by the end of the tenth episode?
Perrineau: I don't know exactly, I know it's somewhere around six months, or something like that. Not a full year, that's how I know. At some point I make a reference to people meeting me during my birthday... I'm trying to figure out how to tell you without telling you what the scene is, but I make a reference to my birthday, which is six months away.
You were 45 when you began filming these episodes. Did the writers tell you where they got the age 42?
Perrineau: No, they actually didn't. It's odd -- when I went in to audition for it, the character was originally written at 56 or something like that. But not only did I not think that I could pull off 45, I wasn't even so sure about 42, you know what I mean? I walk into the room, and people go "How old are you?" And I go, "Yeah, I am." And so I just came up with the number "42," and they thought "Oh, that's a good number. Yeah, we buy that." So we went with that. So that was my own, like -- I couldn't make 56 work, no matter how I tried.
I was hoping it was a Douglas Adams reference. You worked with Jeremy Renner on 28 Weeks Later, and now you're both on this show. Was that a happy coincidence, or was there a connection?
Perrineau: There was a connection only in that, when they offered me the job, I was like "Oh, great, great!" And then I got a call that said, "They're thinking about Jeremy Renner for this role." And then 10 seconds later, I had a message from Jeremy, going, "Hey, Harold, what's The Unusuals? What the hell is that?" So I called him up and said "Jeremy! Read it! Take the job! Come to New York! Let's have some fun!" And so, this will either prove a good thing, or he's gonna hate me for it for a reeeeally long time. [Laughs.] So far, it's playing out to be a good thing. We had a great time, and I'm really glad he took the job, because I think he's great.