What does Union think about Mike (Will Smith) saying in Bad Boys for Life that he dumped Syd?

By Derek Lawrence
April 30, 2020 at 12:00 PM EDT
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L.A.'s Finest

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It's the year of the Bad Boys — and Bad Girls!

Back in January, Bad Boys for Life, the long-awaited third installment in the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence franchise, finally hit theaters, becoming a smash hit. Now, EW can exclusively reveal the June 8 premiere date and first trailer for season 2 of L.A.'s Finest, which focuses on Gabrielle Union's Bad Boys II character Syd Burnett (sister to Lawrence's Marcus and ex to Smith's Mike) and her LAPD partner Nancy McKenna (Jessica Alba).

Released last year on Spectrum Originals, the first season of the cop drama found Syd and McKenna trying to survive both their partnership and the secrets from their own respective past. In the end, they saved McKenna's stepdaughter (Sophie Reynolds) and Syd took down her shooter (who also happened to be her old boss and lover). It seemed like everything was looking fine — until Joe (Ernie Hudson) discovered the body of Syd's love interest Jen (Sabina Gadecki).

To coincide with the exclusive launch of the season 2 trailer, EW chatted with Alba and Union about learning lessons from season 1, diving into even more secrets, and getting Syd's side to her breakup with Mike, which was referenced in Bad Boys for Life.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: In addition to being the stars of L.A.’s Finest, you’re both producers and very involved in the making of the show. So, coming into a second season, were there any specific goals you had in mind for what that should look like, whether it be a story direction, a certain tone?

GABRIELLE UNION: Luckily, by the time we started plotting the second season, we’d gotten some of the feedback from Spectrum viewers who had watched the show, and just kind of saw what they loved, some areas that we could improve. And we just wanted to kick off season 2 with more: more comedy, more action, juicy mysteries to solve, up the ante on our crimes of the week, and really try to include the whole cast a little more in season 2 and give a little bit more of a backstory for the other characters.

JESSICA ALBA: We always felt in our gut that it was important to develop the other characters. The first season was really an origin story and we had to set the stage and foundation. But then, like Gab said, we got to lean in to what our instincts were. When we were first shooting the first season, we knew people were going to like the more candid back and forth, people like the unexpected, people like action. We wanted to always incorporate all of that, but you just never know, right? But we needed that data point of knowing people wanted more of the comedy, and they’re interested in backstory and having context around the other characters as well. And then being able to do a lot more action this time around was a big one, especially since Bad Boys for Life came out and people got to see again this Jerry Bruckheimer vibe and flavor come to life on the big screen, and how that’s also played out on the small screen.

First seasons are often the toughest, just because you’re trying to figure out exactly what the show is, and, like you said, needing to set up a lot. On the flip side, second seasons are often the best, because you've settled into a groove. This year, do you feel like you got to a point where you hit your stride and were like, “This is exactly the show we want to be making”?

UNION: Absolutely. Because we weren’t bound to keep setting the stage, we could expand on where Syd and McKenna are now and just get right into it without having to service the origin story as much. We weren’t as beholden to that and we could kind of go anywhere. And just really pushing the limits on using all of Los Angeles as our playground. Really making L.A. more of a specific character in the show, and just kind of letting loose. Because we all had that confidence coming out of season 1.

A lot went down in season 1, especially at the end. Picking up in season 2, where do we find Syd and McKenna, and how will those events  affect and change the characters moving forward?

ALBA: We didn’t end season 1 on everything is tied up in a nice neat bow. It left on, you sort of can’t get away from the tragedy of the worlds kind of colliding and people constantly coming for us. So by ending the way it did with the Jen character, and picking it up on the other side, and also ending it with McKenna’s family being compromised and all of that, it was too close for comfort. And we pick up with everything being kind of frayed and disconnected. It just felt like a much more genuine place to start. Like Gab said, often you’re having to set up so much of the story in season 1 that we maybe had to skim over the nuance of a relationship, wherein season 2 we got to really dive into the cracks of the relationship.

Michael Moriatis/Sony Pictures Television/Spectrum Originals

What is that Syd and McKenna relationship looking like? There were obviously a lot of ups and downs, including and plenty of secrets being kept on both sides.

UNION: More secrets. [Laughs] You find out some truths, you find out that people aren’t as transparent, and it kind of propels us into season 2. Even more characters have more secrets, so, as we get into the other character’s backstories, the more secrets are revealed, and it puts a lot of the partnerships and relationships into question. Father-daughter relationships, husband-wife relationships, partner relationships. You see a lot of partner swapping, like partner swingers this season. It’s not always Syd and McKenna for various reasons. You’ll have to watch to see, but you see the different interactions between all of the characters in a way that you definitely didn’t see from season 1. And most of that springs from secrets that we’re trying to keep, thinking you’re trying to protect someone, when you’re really just putting them more in harm's way. A lot of that, and it all comes to different heads throughout the season.

Even more of the mystery behind Jen's death is revealed in the trailer, so how will that impact Syd throughout the season? 

UNION: Who killed Jen is really Syd’s whole arc for the season. Finding out who Jen is, who killed Jen, why they killed Jen. And it really has Syd questioning who she is and why she does what she does and if it’s enough.

ALBA: What’s cool about the way that the Jen story plays out as it relates to Syd is it reveals a lot about her choices and her character and who she is. It’s not just “who did this” and “I need to find out,” but her motivation behind finding out and why it’s so important to her has also so much to do with just where she’s at in her life and the choices that she’s made thus far. I just think it’s really cool and well done what the writers put together and the way Gab plays that, and there’s so much juicy stuff inside of that and what that means. Also, I think allowing us to let certain things breathe and not having to shove so much plot and story down people’s throats, but to allow people to kind of sit and live with the characters.

The trailer also suggests some more bumps along the road for McKenna.

ALBA: With McKenna, you do get to understand a little bit more on her end, see where she comes from and who she is. I mean, you do certainly get a piece of that in the first season, but we explore more of her military background and the PTSD that she’s experienced in that journey. I think it’s interesting to see how your experiences in a time of war can affect who you are, permanently. That was fun to do and fun to play. It just added another layer of depth. And then the marriage that was already kind of fragile and felt rocky, you really get to explore that play out as well.

Gabrielle, did you get a chance to see Bad Boys for Life?

No, I actually didn’t get to. They were kind enough to invite us to the premiere but we were working and weren’t able to make it. But I was sort of keeping track on social media and seeing if anyone missed Syd.

Well, spoiler alert: Syd is mentioned, but it’s when Mike says that he broke up with her. So I wanted to give you the chance right now to share Syd’s side of the story. Because there’s always two sides to any breakup.

Yeah, his, mine, and the truth that lies somewhere out there. I have no idea how it was referenced, but maybe in Bad Boys 4 they’ll have me and Jess on and Syd and Mike can go at it and really get to the bottom of what caused the breakup. I’m going to guess, the way we’ve been playing Syd in L.A.’s Finest, that perhaps her being more sexually fluid might have been intimidating for Mike Lowrey, the ladies man. [Laughs] He’s probably worried that he might not be enough for Syd, who is a lot more sexually eccentric than Mike.

Spectrum Originals

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L.A.'s Finest

Gabrielle Union returns to the world of 'Bad Boys' in the spin-off series which sends her character Syd Burnett to Los Angeles to partner up with Jessica Alba.
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