The first season of NECESSARY ROUGHNESS took us into the world of Dr. Dani Santino as she became a therapist to a large variety of sports figures and other big business high-rollers. While Dr. Dani’s world seemed initially be about her varied love interests and elite clientele, including T.K., a football star in need of a therapeutic babysitter, the surprise member rounding out their intertwined lives was Nico, the Atlanta Hawk team’s “fixer.” Scott Cohen’s quiet, mysterious Nico became a fixture as well as a fixer in Dr. Dani’s world, and their blossoming friendship was unexpected and rewarding. During a recent set visit, star Scott Cohen shared what kinds of personal and professional entanglements Nico faces in the second season, as well as his insight into a character that everyone is dying to know more about.
In the second season premiere Nico gets a nice surprise. What can you tease about that avenue for Nico?
SCOTT: What can I tease about it? I think basically just that it gets more complicated. I mean, Nico finds himself between a rock and a hard place, and what is questioned is his loyalty and who he’s working for? Marshall Pittman really kind of controls his life, whether that’s true or not, and who he wants to be loyal to. Whether he wants to be loyal to the team or to Pittman. But you discover a history with them that is a lot more complicated than you kind of thought in the beginning. So it’s not just about the wife. There’s other things that are involved and there’s competition and weird things with the daughter, and stuff like that.
So we’ll maybe get to know more about Nico?
SCOTT: A little bit. He remains a mystery.
Is everything over between Gabrielle and Nico and if so, will there be an appearance of a love interest for Nico?
SCOTT: That’s really a question for the writers. But it’s not over-over, and I hear that there is love to come.
And it’s not with Dr. Dani?
SCOTT: [Laughs] I know, I know. Well, I didn’t want to say anything because I want them to continue on and fight for what’s right. I wish I could give them to you. But I can’t.
Would you like to see Nico together with Dr. Dani?
SCOTT: With Dr. Dani? Yes and no. I mean I think it’d be a really interesting dynamic. I want it to happen, but if it’s ever going to happen to be much later, ‘cause I want it to be teased for years to come.
So it’ll get really awkward at work?
SCOTT: Yeah, well it already has. It’s like kind of weird. I mean it’s like the tension between him and Matt, and him and T.K. He knows what’s going on, so it’s like he’s very protective of Dr. Dani, so it just kind of stays interesting and keeps us going for a while.
Is there anything that Nico doesn’t know?
SCOTT: [Laughs] There’s nothing Nico doesn’t know.
Is directing where you see yourself going?
SCOTT: Yeah, loved to. It’s very fun.
Would you want to direct an episode of NECESSARY ROUGHNESS?
SCOTT: I would love to. Yeah, love to.
Does directing give you a different window into the acting side of things?
SCOTT: It does. It completely gives you a different point of view. It’s a much more relaxed point of view. First of all, and it takes away the pressure. When you’re an actor, you’re always under pressure just about you and your character, and you don’t see the big picture. So you’re just kind of focused in. You’re very myopic. Reading the script for this episode, knowing that I was going to do this, it kind of allowed me to see everybody and just be aware of everybody’s situation and have a very kind of equal balanced view of it. As opposed to, “Wait, I should have that line? Wait I should be in that scene?” Like that. Which is usually what an actor does. It’s like, “How come I’m not in that scene? How come I’m not doing that?” and “I could’ve done that better.”
What kind of preparation did you go for the role of Nico? Did you actually talk to any Navy Seals?
SCOTT: Yeah, I talked to two Navy Seals that I’m connected to actually, via Facebook interestingly enough. Not so in depth. I got some information from them, but I talked more to NFL security people who exist and who are very present in players’ lives. So I talked to them and I kind of got a sense of what their backgrounds might be and who they are and where they come from and things like that. And that’s basically what I did. For Nico, from the very beginning what was interesting to me — ‘cause I think I’ve always played characters, I mean not always, but I think I’ve always played characters that are a lot more talkative, a lot more energetic, a lot more involved. What attracted to me to [Nico] in the beginning was how quietly energetic he was. He was so quiet, but so intense and that to me was always interesting. To be able to play that, which I actually think at least for me, it is so difficult to actually just shut up and trust that your power is in your silence or in your eyes or whatever it may be . . . Basically what interested me in terms of in trying to play Nico was trusting and really kind of understanding his presence was more than enough. And I hope they continue that because it’s really fun to do. It’s really fun to kind of put the fear of God in people.
So after the end of the second season premiere, how closely do you have to keep an eye on T.K.?
SCOTT: Very, very, very, very close.
Is that for the duration of the season?
SCOTT: Yes. Even now. I think it’s actually going to get more so. This last episode that we do is very interesting because it’s about becoming irrelevant and it’s about people and loyalty-switches in that episode. You see more of T.K. needing another body to kind of be near and Nico becomes that person.
What kind of input do you have into creating and shaping the character?
SCOTT: A lot. Not his story arcs. They’ll take a phone call and I’ll pitch an idea very easily. But it might not happen, they might say, “Oh that’s really interesting.” But they’re very open to ideas. They’re very open to interpretations of a scene. Not that things will be used, necessarily, but definitely like I can go and say, “Oh I read this article and this looks like a really interesting thing for Nico, the background or what’s going to happen,” or “I thought about this,” and they would totally hear it and try to put it into the fray.
What kind of stories would you want to see for Nico?
SCOTT: [Laughs] Traveling to foreign countries, tropical islands. That’s an interesting question. I mean I would love to see a little bit more of his background as time goes on. I mean, I think it’s too early to know people that were in his life, but I really would enjoy that. Especially if they kind of came back into his life. That would kind of interest me. I like the whole idea of him having a daughter. Last season was very interesting to me. So that’s somewhere to be had and that would be really interesting ‘cause I love the idea of a man his age — does he have a family? Does he not have a family? Did he have a family? Did he not have a family? That’s interesting to me.
Are we going to see anymore of Nico’s vulnerable side?
SCOTT: Vulnerable? Yeah, you see a bunch in the first four episode. Him dealing with Pittman. It gets nasty. It really gets nasty and Evan Handler, who is superb plays what you believe is a evil human being. I mean, he doesn’t end up being an evil human being, but Nico has to kind of keep him at bay and he’s having trouble doing it.
It is the life and death stakes, or more just emotional?
SCOTT: I think it’s more emotional. I think it’s “life and death” in terms of the money that’s involved and the team, and how many lives are at stake. It’s more like that.
What’s the weapon in Nico’s arsenal that he is going really employ this season since he’s got a lot of different tools to control things.
SCOTT: Nico’s main power is his information. It is his knowledge and he’s capable of using it at lightening speeds. So I think that’s his greatest weapon. If you’re talking about like guns and knives and things like that? Is that what you’re talking about?
More along the lines of tools of the trade.
SCOTT: Negotiation, manipulation, and threat.
And a willingness to carry through?
SCOTT: Absolutely. No question. Which he does.
He can acquire information, but does he utilize it?
SCOTT: You will see in this season, he utilizes quite a lot of the things that we just did not mention. But his threats get carried out.
Is there any limit that he will not cross?
SCOTT: No, I don’t think so. I mean, I think that if he’s confronted with it, he has to make a decision. But I think that if somebody that he needs to protect is in trouble then he’s willing to go the distance. He’s willing to take a bullet for somebody. That’s his mentality.
But he’ll never lies.
SCOTT: Never, ever.
Isn’t lying the act of omission? He controls information, he doesn’t revel it.
SCOTT: Yeah, I think that’s pretty accurate.
And he holds and manipulates information that way.
SCOTT: Yep. That’s very accurate.
So in that sense that he’s not lying.
SCOTT: He doesn’t lie about things about himself. So if you ask him a question about him, he’ll be honest with you. He doesn’t need to. There’s nothing he needs to hide. Nothing. But in terms of a negotiation or in terms of a manipulation, or in terms of just trying to get somebody to do what he needs them to do, he will manipulate information in order to get what he wants. But I don’t think that’s in the context of lying. Not lying is more about him. He has nothing to hide. He has no regrets. He’s very satisfied and content with who he is, which might be his flaw – in that he has a lot he’s just content and he’s happy where he is. Like nothing will affect him that much. But things do affect him that much. That’s what we see in this season I think.
Do you feel that the writers are writing more towards you?
SCOTT: I think so. I mean I think they were surprised in the beginning of last season of how Nico just kind of panned out. I mean, today was a great example actually. This kid that was hired to a little kid that is the football player’s child, and he was just so fantastic. So the writer immediately thought, “I’ve got to put him in another scene.” Simply to resolve an issue that wasn’t explored in the beginning of the episode, but now has to be explored in the episode. Because you’re glued to the TV watching him. So if you’re the audience as you’re shooting it, and if you’re interested, then the audience is probably going to be interested. So I think that’s what kind of happened last season with Nico.
Does the show model Nico after you in any aspect?
SCOTT: I definitely think that they are not modeling it after me, by any stretch of the imagination. But instead they are trying to infuse everything that they’ve created last season with mystery and him knowing everything that’s underground, keeps it above ground or things like that. He lives underground basically and they are utilizing that. I think that’s definitely happening, while trying to keep it a mystery at the same time. I think they’ve really attempting to keep the mystery of Nico alive, so that the knowledge of him, you only learn tiny, tiny pieces of it.
You mentioned that Nico is going to have a closer relationship with T.K.. Could you expand on that? How is Nico involved with T.K. and the shooter?
SCOTT: T.K. needs to be protected, and Nico’s the only one that can do it. That’s basically what it is. So Nico becomes T.K.’s go-to-guy. Not in T.K.’s mind, but Nico kind of puts himself in that position. He is kind of like a father-figure in certain ways. Nico’s not his father, but T.K. needs an older presence in his life, and Nico kind of represents that to him, and Nico allows T.K. himself to be used that way.
Does the mystery to the character make him difficult to play because you don’t have a backstory?
SCOTT: Absolutely. Yeah, I mean I have it my mind, of what I do, and I would assume they would tell me if it’s wrong ‘cause it comes out how I play it.
As far as Nico and Matt, they both seem like “alpha dogs” and Matt and Nico are vying for the alpha dog position. Will we see that tension develop?
SCOTT: Yeah, it reaches a head in the second episode. It’s very tense between the two of them. Mainly because of T.K., not because of Dr. Dani. But I think Dr. Dani’s playing a major role in it. It’s funny you say that because I don’t really see it like we’re vying for position like for “alpha dog” position, but I guess that’s what it is really. It’s definitely very present. Very present.
What do you think Nico’s motivation is in what he does? Is he trying to help people?
SCOTT: I think he’s just doing his job. I think it’s really plain and simple for him. If this job ended today, then he’d be okay. . . I think he just does his job. I think it’s just that his job is so intense, what he does involves so many people and involves such high level personality that, you do what you have to do to get the job done. That’s simply what has to be done. He’s very loyal to that.
With Nico juggling a lot of conflicting responsibilities and a tug-of-war for his heart and loyalties, the second season premiere of NECESSARY ROUGHNESS is not to be missed. Be sure to tune in on Wednesday, June 6th at 10PM on USA Network to see what else is revealed about Nico’s mysterious world.