Josh Duhamel and Dean Winters had never met before starting work on the new police dramedy Battle Creek.
“I was actually driving onto the lot in Manhattan Beach for a fitting,” says Winters, the actor known for his roles on Oz, 30 Rock and the Allstate Insurance commercials, “and I wasn’t looking where I was going and literally, true story, almost ran Josh over. That was our first encounter.”
Their jarring introduction could have been useful as they created their characters, a Battle Creek, Michigan cop and FBI agent who butt heads on police procedure and everything else, but they decided not to be too method in their approach to the work.
“To me that is a sign of insecurity in people who don’t know what they are doing,” says Winters.
Instead the pair relied on-the-job research to get under the skins of their characters.
Duhamel spent time with Battle Creek cops, doing ride alongs with their undercover officers, drug enforcement team and gang unit. “There is some real stuff happening in that town,” he says. “Nobody would ever suspect because it sits right in between Detroit and Chicago but they get a lot of riff raff fleeing either city and hiding out there. They get a lot of crime you wouldn’t expect in what seems to be a very all-American town.”
Winters says “the best part of the ride alongs is actually listening to the cops talk. They have their own language, their own rhythms in the way they talk to one each other. It’s really fascinating. I don’t think anyone has ever really captured it to be honest with you.
“It truly is a whole different world. I really do the relationship Josh and I have is pretty close, especially when we’re driving down the street in the Suburban. A lot of those conversations are priceless. I think [Canadian series creator and writer] David Shore has a real ear for that.”
On screen the pair investigate a series of wild cases—“The crimes we are investigating on the show you won’t see anywhere else,” says Duhamel.—like an illegal maple syrup ring and the murder of a cereal company mascot. “We have to take it seriously as police officers,” says Duhamel, “but it is kind of funny.”
With thirteen episodes in the can Battle Creek Duhamel and Winters have had time to get to know one another since their first meeting and have become close.
“I just really like him and wanted to be his friend,” laughs Duhamel.
“I just want to stand near him.” Winters says of his handsome co-star. “He makes you look good.”