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Michael Cudlitz On Paul Krendler's Relationship With 'Clarice': 'He Does Not Care For Her, She's Dangerous'

(CBS) - Clarice returns for its second episode tonight at 10:00PM ET/PT, only on CBS and streaming on CBS All Access. Michael Cudlitz stars as Paul Krendler, Clarice Starling's immediate superior with the FBI.

CBS' Matt Weiss spoke to Cudlitz about the process of creating this show and what fans have to look forward to in episode two.

MW: Michael, nice to talk to you today. New episode of Clarice tonight on CBS. I'm interested to know before we get into this week's episode though, how did you first hear about the project and what made you want to get involved?

MC: The script was sent to me, sent to my agents. They just sent it over and said, take a peek. I knew the source material. I was interested to see what they were going to do with it because we've not heard from her. At the time it was 29 years ago and didn't really have a preconceived notion of what it might be.

I was literally blown away by the script. I just thought it was a terrific, terrific script. Wonderful character development. It was a take on a story telling that I had not really seen done before, so I was immediately pulled into it; immediately interested in doing it.

MW: You're playing Paul Krendler on the show. What can you tell us about him?

MC: In the world we're entering in, Paul is Clarice Starlings' immediate boss. He has put together a team for the FBI in the violent criminal apprehension unit. They go to different locations to deal with things as they happen. He's put together his dream team after moving back from the DOJ. He was in the FBI moved to DOJ and thus come back to the FBI after the incidents of the Silence of the Lambs. It impacted his life so much, he really felt like he wanted to make difference sort of boots on the ground situation.

He's got this dream team together then lo and behold he gets Clarice Starling hoisted on him by the Attorney General. Not only part of the team but she's going to be the publicity face of your team. This does not sit well with Paul. Mainly because he has his own team that he's put together. He's really trying to make a difference. Now he has somebody stuck with him that he doesn't want or hasn't chosen.

On top of it in the Silence of the Lambs, they have history where there's friction from when he was with the Department of Justice. He was actually searching for and trying to catch Buffalo Bill in that serial murder situation. She sort of shows him up because she right out of the gate as a rookie solves the crime.

He has a little bit of egg on his face because the new kid did this. Now this person is being shoved down his throat. He's not feeling real comfortable about this situation at all. He does not care for her at all; he thinks she's dangerous. He thinks she was lucky, he thinks it was a one-off because typically in these situations that's what it would be. He does not realize the gift that she has.

MW: There's some tension there between Paul and Clarice but I'm sure there's none between you and Rebecca Breeds. I know making this show it had to be a much different experience working through the pandemic and everything that comes along with that. So last week when the first episode aired, did it feel like a weight off your shoulders that it's finally out there?

MC: As actors we look at it the work is so precious to us and the work is so scarce in a lot of ways. But to get a pilot, to book a pilot, to get a pilot picked up for to go to series and that series go on air; that's so many winning of the lotteries. It's such a unicorn to even be on air. That in itself is always such a huge achievement.

To layer on top of it everything with COVID and all the restrictions and the idea that, when I first got cast, we were headed and then the world shot down two hours before our read through.

MW: Wow.

MC: We all thought we'd be back in two or three weeks sort of mandatory shut down of the industry. Everyone was thinking alright, we'll be back in a couple of weeks. Well, a couple weeks turned into a couple of months. At that point you don't know if the show is going to actually continue even at all.

Then last spring at the upfronts that were all done remotely, we found out that not only was the pilot going to continue to go but the pilot was picked up and also, we were actually picked up directly to series based on the strength of the scripts and the strength of the cast. To see it finally out was one of those things that's usually against all odds. It felt like those odds were doubled or tripled. The fact that we're able to continue doing the show and to do it safely. The care that both CBS and MGM have put into making sure that we are kept in safe as possible has been amazing.

MW: That's wild that it literally got shut down two hours before the script read. Looking forward to tonight now, what will we see from this week's episode?

MC: This week, we really started getting into Starlings' mind and learn a lot more about her history. This is one of our standalone episodes, more of an episodic event. The event resolves itself at the end of the hour but gives us a tremendous amount of information that we need going forward, so far as the psychological development and/or lack of that our characters are going through.

You'll see how our team works, last week was just the basic brief introduction. This week, we delve in a little more. We sort of get to see how each of our team members' tick. How they're going to be reacting to each other. How they move forward in this world together.

MW: Looking forward to it. Michael, thank you so much for the time and all the best with the show!

MC: Thank you!

Tune in for new episodes of Clarice, Thursday nights at 10:00PM ET/PT, only on CBS and streaming on CBS All Access. Check your local listings for more information.

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