TSC Interviews: "Lights Out" star Holt McCallany
Holt McCallany has starred in countless films and television shows, most famously, “Tyson,” “Fight Club,” “Men of Honor,” and “CSI: Miami.”
Yet if you asked McCallany a year ago, he'd tell you there's one role that's missing from his filmography—professional boxer.
McCallany is an avid boxing and mixed martial arts fan, who always longed for the opportunity to play a boxer on-screen and in real life. He would eventually get his wish.
Fox's cable network FX signed McCallany on to do “Lights Out” in 2010 and since it's 2011 series debut, is now one of the hottest shows on TV. McCallany plays his dream role as a struggling boxer named Patrick “Lights” Leary, who is battling mental anguish and heavy debts, while trying to support his family.
In some ways, “Lights Out” is more realistic than your typical boxing show or film, showcasing the brutal reality many real-life boxers have dealt with when their careers and payoffs decline.
Holt McCallany spoke to The Sports Courier about his love for boxing and MMA, the state of combat sports, fight scenes with MMA legend Bas Rutten, and how “Lights Out” came to fruition.
How did the concept of “Lights Out” come about and when were you approached to do the show?
Back in the '90s, I did a movie for HBO called “Tyson,” based on boxer Mike Tyson's life. I played legendary boxing trainer Teddy Atlas. Teddy and I ended up becoming very close friends. He always talked about wanting to do a fictional show based on his real life. It was about an ex-boxer becoming a trainer and his relationships with boxers and his family and navigating the corrupt waters of boxing.
At various times, we had a couple of really talented guys approach us about the project. I remember someone said that the story sounded very familiar to another one floating around Hollywood. I spoke to my agent about it and he happened to have the script for a show called “Lights Out.”
It was similar to the idea Teddy and I had but about a boxer who is past his prime and how he deals with his demons. I knew after reading five or six pages of the script that I had something very special in my hands. We did a pilot and luckily got picked up as a series in 2011.
Did you have any background in combat sports before doing the show?
Yeah, I loved boxing growing up and still do. I've been boxing since I was a kid. My brother was a Golden Gloves Champion. I have always been interested in boxing and martial arts. I also got into Karate in my teen years. I continued boxing most of my adult life. Like I said, I played Teddy Atlas in the “Tyson” movie.
Then I had the lead on another TV show, where we had some “Matrix” style fight sequences, so I brought on one of the greatest MMA fighters of all-time to help me out--my good friend Bas Rutten. Bas is one of the greatest MMA fighters of his generation. I trained with Bas for several years.