"Memphis Beat" actor DJ Qualls has finally figured out why policemen walk the way they do -- backs straight and arms not touching their sides.
"When I used to see cops walk in this cocky way, like there is some major attitude behind it, I didn't really know why they were that way," says Qualls, 31, who plays a uniformed policeman on the drama (back for a second season beginning at 9 p.m. EDT Tuesday on TNT). "The gun belt is so heavy that it throws off your center of gravity. So you have to adjust the way that you walk.
"I find when I don't have the belt on, I walk a little taller. You know how really muscular guys walk with hands out from their sides? Well, cops do that because they don't want their hands to brush up against their gun or pepper spray."
Playing a policeman is not something fans would expect of Qualls, whose career has mainly consisted of teen comedies such as "Road Trip" and "The New Guy." He broke away with the critically acclaimed "Hustle & Flow," a serious tale of a Memphis, Tenn., pimp trying to break into hip-hop. As he has gotten older, Qualls has taken on meatier characters, though dyed-in-the-wool fans still recollect his zanier film parts fondly.
"When I tell people who have never watched the show that I am playing a cop, they say, 'Well, is he a funny cop?' Well, sometimes," Qualls says. "There are funny things that happen to him, but there's a lot of drama, too.
"It is hard for some people to buy it. It was hard for me to buy it at first."
"Memphis Beat" has cast its star, Jason Lee, in a new light as well. Once known for his NBC sitcom "My Name Is Earl," Lee is now headlining "Memphis Beat" as a detective who sings the blues on the side. Qualls' character, Sutton, often assists in the investigations.
As gangly and uncertain as he may be, Sutton has helped Qualls gain more confidence in real life.
"I don't know if I can say I am the most confident person in real life," says Qualls, who grew up in a small town outside Nashville, Tenn. "I know I feel more confident as a result of doing this role. ... I am so hyper-aware of myself that it changes the way I feel about myself, especially in public. I get really self-conscious because people are looking at me.
"I feel like I am eating spaghetti in a crowded restaurant. There's just not a graceful way to do that. Sometimes it makes me feel like I don't fit into the real world."
Other highlights for the week of June 12-18 (all times EDT; listings subject to change; check local listings):
"The Tony Awards" (8 p.m., CBS). Neil Patrick Harris again hosts the event that recognizes excellence on the Broadway stage. Major nominees include "The Scottsboro Boys" and "The Book of Mormon."
"The Glee Project" (9 p.m., Oxygen). In this new series, contestants compete for a guest-starring role on "Glee."
"Finding Sarah" (9 p.m., OWN). This new reality series follows Sarah Ferguson as she attempts to understand herself and rebuild her life.
"The Protector" (10 p.m., Lifetime). A single mother (Ally Walker) with a demanding job as a Los Angeles homicide detective tries to juggle career and home life in this new show.
"Keeping Up with the Kardashians" (10 p.m., E!). Entering season six of this reality show, we're still trying to figure out why the Kardashians are famous.
"Kickin' It" (8:30 p.m., Disney XD). This new comedy focuses on the misadventures of students at an under-performing martial-arts school.
"Nurse Jackie" (10 p.m., Showtime). Jackie's life seems to be falling apart in the third-season finale.
"G4's Proving Ground" (8 p.m., G4). Ryan Dunn of "Jackass" fame is co-host of this new series that tests whether iconic pop-culture moments could work in real life.
"Pretty Little Liars" (8 p.m., ABC Family). As the new season begins, the lies are catching up with the bombshells, who are beset by stalkers and blackmailers.
"Jon Benjamin Has a Van" (10:30 p.m., Comedy Central). Comic Jon Benjamin takes his van across the United States in this new, fake-newsmagazine series.
"Hot in Cleveland" (10 p.m., TV Land). Elka (Betty White) is on the run, but her friends search for her before matters get worse.
"Toddlers & Tiaras" (10 p.m., TLC). The fourth season walks out and takes a bow with two toddlers from Texas competing in an '80s-theme event.
"Rocco's Dinner Party" (11 p.m., Bravo). Rocco DiSpirito and celebrity guests await a dinner prepared by three highly skilled chefs who feel the pressure.
"Rock the House" (9 p.m., Hallmark Channel). A workaholic dad (Jack Coleman) reunites with his high-school garage band and tries to reconnect with his teenage daughter in the process.