Benjamin Bratt

The star of the A&E series and the real-life inspiration for the show talk about the show's new season

With basic cable networks getting into the swing of original programming, like AMC and its dual powerhouse shows of Breaking Bad and Mad Men, the A&E Network figured it was time to get back into the original programming business. Last year, A&E debuted The Cleaner, the network's first original series in over six years. This powerful series, which stars Benjamin Bratt, struck a chord with viewers and AMC brought the series back for a second season, which just kicked off on Tuesday, July 23 at 10 PM on A&E. One of the reasons the show was brought back was the frank manner in which the series approaches substance abuse.

"I have never seen a one-hour fictional drama that at its central focus, the exploration of a second chance when you're facing a substance abuse problem," said series star Benjamin Bratt on a recent conference call promoting the series. "I mean, the shows that remain popular on television today are procedurals that are either cop dramas or medical shows. And so it, to me, it just felt like the right fit where you have a show that has a little bit of that structural element there where it's procedural, you know, in terms of its skeletal structure."

The series is based off the real-life exploits of Warren Boyd, who not only serves as the basis of the show but serves as a co-executive producer on the show as well. When it comes to Boyd's actual life events, he said the series follows rather closely.

"Well the mechanics of the show are very close to my real life, which sets me back about 13 to 14 years ago," Boyd said on the conference call. "And that's where I was - what you see on the show is where I was about that long ago and in the process and everything that you see. So it's pretty close and there's a lot of influence in the writers room and with Benjamin. So we keep things as authentic as we possibly can and Ben's really good at doing that."

This year the series also features a spate of notable guest stars like Whoopi Goldberg and Gary Cole and Bratt gave us some insight into what we can expect from those two this year.

"We're lucky to have her back as a recurring character as her schedule will allow," Bratt said. "She will appear in three episodes this year so that's good news for us. Gary Cole did a remarkable job in the premiere episode playing a nationally recognizable newscaster who is strung out on speed and in desperate need of help."

Bratt also added that we might see Cole in quite an unusual manner on the show this season.

"He happens to be married to a woman who's suffering from terminal cancer and he's spinning out of control. His performance required him to run naked across the beach as well as being, you know, tied down and sedated forcibly and he did it all with a smile and a lot of bravery in his performance. I think people are going to be surprised."

While Bratt couldn't spill at length about what to expect in this new season, he did offer some tidbits on where the first season ended and where this new season picks up.

"At the end of the first season, William Banks was kicked out of the house by his wife because he was spending more time on the job and not doing the things that a good husband should do," said Bratt. "And so at the opening of Season 2, he's sleeping in a dilapidated back room of the shop where he holds the lease in that auto building - that motorcycle building. Over the course of the second season, they will still relate as they need to because they're co-parenting. Then my son takes a job at the shop during his summer vacation and hopefully by the end of the season, you will have a much clearer answer to your question so stay tuned."

You can watch Benjamin Bratt star in The Cleaner on Tuesday nights at 10 PM ET on the A&E Network.

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