EXCLUSIVE: Laz Alonso's Career Goes 'Southland'

It was recently confirmed that Laz Alonso would be replacing Kevin Alejandro on TNT’s Southland and reprising his role as Detective Gil Puente in the season 3 finale episode entitled, "Graduation Day" slated to air Tuesday, March 8 at 10 p.m. A few days before the news was announced, we caught up with Laz and asked him about the show.

Southland was going to bring me on as a regular,” said Laz, who was in talks with producers about a possible return to the show, but didn’t know anything definite at the time.

“I don’t know how much I’m allowed to talk about what they wanted to do with me,” he added, “but it was going to involve me on a number of different levels — both having my own narcotics unit task force, as well as possibly being involved romantically on the show as well.”

We love the idea of Laz heading up his own narcotics unit. As for being “involved romantically,” our guess is that the show will pair Laz’s character up with Detective Lydia Adams (Regina King's a lucky lady).

Alonso previously appeared in three episodes of the show's second season, as Gil, a former partner of Nate's (Kevin Alejandro) who helped Nate and Sammy (Shawn Hatosy) work undercover on a gang case. When Alonso reprises his role in the March finale, it will be revealed that Gil Puente is Sammy's new partner, replacing Nate Morretta, who was killed with a metal pipe to the head in a recent episode. Gil and Sammy had a hard time getting along in season 2, so it will be interesting to see how their relationship develops.

“I love Southland—it’s one of my favorite TV shows A) to watch and B) to work on,” said Alonso. “If something were to happen with [his new A & E series] Breakout Kings, I would go right back to Southland with my eyes closed.”

Laz says he’s also a big fan of the character, Gil Puente. “I love playing Gil Puente. I grew up around Gil Puentes all of the time— a very loud, gregarious, sometimes obnoxious Cuban man who really has a heart of Gold and will cry at the drop of the hat because he’s so passionate about everything he does,” he says.

One of the things that Laz loved the most about working on the show was portraying the bond between Nate Moretta and Gil Puente. “The beauty of that relationship that I loved, is that it shows that all Latinos aren’t the same. They are two completely different types of Latinos: Nate is more reserved, calm and collected — someone who’s very methodical and thoughtful in how he expresses himself," explains Alonso. "And then there’s Gil, who’s obviously a more boisterous and fiery Latino — yet they definitely speak the same language on a number of different levels.”