Southland: Shaquille O’Neal To Guest Star (Access Exclusive)

Shaquille O’Neal is heading to the small screen!

The former NBA superstar will guest star on TNT’s police drama, “Southland,” Shaq announced on Thursday’s Access Hollywood Live.

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Shaq will play Officer Earl Dayton, a cop who knows Officer John Cooper (played by Michael Cudlitz) from the police academy. The pair will run into each other at the funeral of a notorious gangster, where Shaq’s character will be serving warrants.

“[‘Southland’] is one of my favorite shows, so one day I just got the number and I called them and I was like, ‘This is Detective O’Neal, and I would like to play a police officer [on your show],’” he told Kit Hoover and Billy Bush. “They were like, ‘This is not Shaq!’ I said, ‘This is really me.’”

Part of the reason Shaq is such a fan of the hour-long drama stems from his police connections off-screen — he has previously served as a reserve officer with both the Port of Los Angeles police and the Miami Beach police department.

“I e-mailed them a picture [of me in my police uniform] and I told them I would like to be on the show and I’m shooting next week,” Shaq explained, adding that this was the first time he’d ever contacted a show and asked to guest star. “I’m a police officer in real life and that show really depicts how they do it in life.”

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The episode shoots on Tuesday in Los Angeles and will air on April 3.

Shaq is the second notable name to appear as a guest star on the drama’s fifth season so far – Chad Michael Murray is currently starring in a guest arc as a cop influencing Officer Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie) in a less-than-positive way.

The basketball star’s previous acting credits include big screen roles in “Scary Movie 4,” “Freddy Got Fingered,” “Kazaam” and “Blue Chips.” He also had a cameo on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in 2001.

“Southland,” which returned last week with the premiere of Season 5, airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on TNT.

— Erin O’Sullivan

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