By Sandra Gonzalez
Updated June 05, 2011 at 09:27 PM EDT
Gene Page/A&E Network

Tonight marks the return of A&E’s answer to summer TV, and after a 13-episode first season, fans can expect more of what they grew to love about The Glades, says the shows Aussie star Matt Passmore, who plays transplant Det. Jim Longworth. “I think the show is nice, light, and escapist. It’s got a fun touch for a very dark subject,” he says. “Especially on a Sunday night when you’re about to head into another big week of work, I think it’s nice to just sit back and watch the way these characters move through the space with a light touch. And a fun touch.”

In a chat with EW, Passmore talks more about what fans can expect from the second season, premiering tonight.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why do you think The Glades is a good fit for summer TV?

I think the audience can relate in the summer. It’s beautiful surroundings, and I think not only in America but a lot of the world, there is a fascination with Florida. It’s got such a glossy exterior and such a dark interior. It’s like, you scratch below the surface, and you start coming up with the muck. So behind every bikini babe is an alligator. There’s not many places in America that you can have that kind of juxtaposition in. You start putting murder stories around that, it makes for a lot of very interesting circumstances.

And on this show, the bikini babe gets eaten by the alligator.

[Laughs] The bikini babe was probably already dead before the alligator got her. Because it’s got to be murder, of course. As they say, If you’re every going to dump a body, the best place to do it is in Florida. Let nature clean it up.

Terrifying.

Yeah, exactly. But that’s what I mean. You’ve got these incredible beaches and pristine sunshine, and then you start thinking about serial killers and swamps and muck, which is literally sitting just off the beach. So it can really flip you on your head, Florida.

What kind of growth are we going to see on the show this season?

I think the pace is amped up a bit; the danger’s become more immediate. I get into a little bit more blokey stuff. Just a little bit more action. It’s not an “action” series, but we get to have a little bit more fun that way. And I can get to blow up my car and get a new car, a better car, which is great. It still definitely maintains the same voice. Jim will definitely still annoy everyone around him, but Florida is seeping into his bones. Then of course, the love story [between Jim and Callie Cargill (Kiele Sanchez)]. There’s someone from Jim’s past who comes in and starts throwing a real spanner in the works, and of course, we’ve got a husband coming out of prison. So yeah, the romantic side definitely is very complex and rocky, and lots of moody looks and awkward moments. (For more on the couple’s upcoming romantic troubles, read this week’s Spoiler Room.)

I expected y’all to play the will-they/won’t-they game for a while. But at the end of the season, Jim and Callie were in a relationship. What were your expectations when you were reading about that romance, and were you happy with the approach?

Yeah. The thing that has always been there from the start, and actually — I think I can say it because Clifton said it in the DVD — when we shot the original pilot, they went there in the first episode. So it was always going to be a much more complex boy meets girl, boy likes girl kind of thing. She’s got a child, and she’s married to a guy in prison. It was never going to be one of these shows where there’s just like this ridiculous sexual tension for four seasons. It’s acknowledged. But I think moreso what happens in this season is as much as it’s acknowledged, there are these huge obstacles. I think that’s a little bit more real life to me. It’s more about the obstacles rather than this tenuous line of tension to try and extend that over a period of time.

Are you a fan of those shows that do that? Bones? Castle?

I’m a bit more of an HBO kind of a watcher, I guess. I’m into your Dexters, and Game of Thrones, and Walking Dead. Usually I’m too busy making television to watch it.

That’s a good problem to have.

Yes. It is, isn’t it? I sound like a bit of a wanker there. My mates back working a bar in LA are going, “You dick.” [Laughs]

So how can we expect to see the character fleshed out this season?

We start finding a bit more about Carlos and start finding more about Manus, and a little bit more backstory about Jim. In the first episode, we bring a great coke dealer type character, a mob boss type character from season 1, he comes back. Francisco Quinn, he comes back. And the guest cast this season have already been just phenomenal. This show’s definitely found its voice, and now it’s just capitalizing on what we already know people enjoy. We know they’ll enjoy it even more the further we go down that road.

Are there things about Jim that surprised you or that people will find interesting?

Yeah. I mean, I was surprised. I didn’t realize how much of a strong moral compass Jim actually had. Certainly from reading the pilot — a kind of laissez-faire homicide detective, who doesn’t really give a crap about people’s feelings, gradually I’m certainly seeing the cracks in the armor and seeing the true heart that he has. When I first started, when I was trying to find him, I was thinking, “Is he just a prick? Is he willing to shrug it all off?” He’s a very flawed human being, but that moral compass and as most homicide detectives do, that inner need for justice. He’s not just womanizing out there, when he could have every right to. I think his moral compass is very strong and dominant in his life. That’s something I didn’t realize when I first started reading the pilot, and it’s been really nice, really sweet to find out about the guy. Even when he’s annoying the crap out of everybody and really stepping on people’s toes and invading their space. It’s nice to see the heart that’s actually in the guy.

Are there any episodes that you’re especially excited for some of the hardcore fans to see?

Yeah. There’s an episode set in a town that was founded by, like, circus freaks and the descendants of circus freaks. It’s a real town, Gibsonton. What I found so fun is that the episode itself is politically incorrect, because [the residents in the episode] are politically incorrect. Like they’re like, “Hey, you know, stop feeling sorry for me. My granddad made a living out of being Monkey Boy. Don’t pity him.” They’re their own people.

Did you cast real circus freaks?

[Laughs] Now that’s really politically incorrect. Now you’ve gone and insulted them. Both Jim and I have a real strong moral compass. I can’t be part of this; you New Yorkers, you don’t care. [Laughs] The makeup people did a good job on a couple of characters, all based on real photos, real people. Actually, for a completely foreign Aussie, all of these things have become enjoyable experiences for me, because it’s all hitting me for the first time. We go into Little Havana, and I’m learning all about the Muddy Alitos, and stuff I’ve always heard about in Scarface, but it’s all hitting me for the first time. I’m finding out about Cuban culture. It’s an absolute joy to work like that because that just brings a bonus to the job.

What’s the most surprising thing you learned about Florida/US?

Well, I was saying today, I’m fascinated with the whole pie thing because a national pastime in Australia is the meat pie. You kind of eat it like a burger. So often, down in Florida, it’s all key lime. Key Lime pie, and I’m used to savory, and here it’s all sweet. It’s cherry pie and apple pie…and it’s everywhere. So that kind of thing, America’s fascination with the pie that doesn’t have meat inside.

We have meat pie-like things here. We call those empanadas.

I guess Australia got that from England. Probably the only good thing they got from England. [Laughs]

So in sum, what can we expect from this season?

It just further progresses Jim’s and the audience’s understanding and feeling the quirkiness of Florida. I mean, that’s the dominant force of the show. It’s the protagonist and the antagonist. It’s the main character in the show is Florida. The show very much continues and goes deeper down that road. There’s parts of Florida that we never hear about, parts of Florida that we never see. We get to see it through Jim’s eyes because he’s experiencing it for the first time. That starts to seep into Jim’s bones, and on the other side, we see a love story that’s got a lot more complexity than we normally see on television — or certainly than we normally see on procedurals.

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