Shawn Ryan Tells the Truth About Reinventing Lie to Me

Lie to Me's surprise midseason success last year has been attributed to its compelling leading man (Tim Roth) and its unconventional approach to the cop procedural.

So when Shawn Ryan (The Shield, The Unit) was brought in to co-executive-produce the show (with Samuel Baum, the show's creator) this season, he wanted to maintain those two elements.

"There were a lot of things that worked well about the show last year, primarily Tim Roth," Ryan says. "He's one of the premier actors in the world. The show had a lot of strengths. I have just been trying to refine it, add a little adrenaline, add some deeper character work and dig really deep into who these characters really are."

Ryan's higher-octane imprint has already been felt. In the second-season premiere, master lie detector Cal Lightman (Roth) strangled a client (guest star Erika Christensen) to extract information from one of her alternate personalities. Ryan said he loved the way that scene turned out, but promised he wouldn't take away the show's lighter elements.

"I'd say visceral is a good word for it," Ryan says of the choking scene. "But the show is still going to have humor. It's not a dark universe we're trying to portray, but a visceral, real world. That's something that Tim Roth really embraces. There's a real blue-collar, rough-around-the-edges nature to Tim, in real life and in the way he plays Cal Lightman. And we want to expand upon that this year."

Ryan doesn't think getting inside the head of Lightman & Co. will distract fans who want to tune in for their mystery of the week. "I think there's a way to still remain a procedural while still delving into who your characters are," he says. "Certain kinds of stories allow you to open avenues of who those characters are as it relates to the story. We're choosing stories that allow us to reflect and illustrate who these characters really are. It's a very calculated effort that takes a lot of work to pick the right stories.

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Oct 7, 2009 9:31AM EDT

Tim Roth is an amazing actor and portrays Cal Lightman splendidly. Personally it's the characters that makes me watch 'Lie To Me'. The procedural is more or less a backdrop for allowing the characters to evolve, but the show would probably fail miserably if they cut considerably back on the procedural. It's a thin line, the balance between character-related stories and procedural. Right now, 'Lie To Me' is doing great! I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season:))

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