With unwavering fans across the globe, TNT’s Major Crimes has amassed a cult-like following since it’s predecessor The Closer‘s final episode in August 2012. Over the course of 5 seasons, Major Crimes continued to dive into the narratives of its beloved characters, while expanding upon their worlds. We spoke to veteran stars Raymond Cruz (aka Detective Julio Sanchez) and Philip P. Keane (aka Buzz Watson) about their experiences working on the show, ahead of the two-episode series finale in January. Read our interview below, and catch up on Season Six of Major Crimes before the series finale on January 16th at 9/8c on TNT.   

When you look back at all the incredible episodes of Major Crimes, what are you most proud of?

Raymond Cruz: That we made it so far!

Philip P. Keane: Exactly! Combined between both shows we’re now over 200 episodes. And yes, every week someone dies, but it’s always a new way of telling the story. It’s not always so much about figuring out who did it, often times it’s why. And we’ve explored various themes throughout the years. This season we’re exploring faith and all of its incarnations.

How do you see current affairs being woven into this final season?

RC: Well we’re definitely touching on the way the justice system deals with crime today. Often people have to think about what sort of deal can be made because it’s so expensive to take people to trial. So you end up making a deal in some way just to try to incarcerate them.

PK: I think the general public is not aware of the dangers and the pitfalls that police officers deal with these days.

RC: Everything is recorded today!

PK: Exactly. Which is great because that means witnesses, suspects, as well as the police are in some ways better protected—there’s now a record of everything. And this is something that my character has been doing for a long time, actually recording crime scenes and interviews. We don’t like to use the word “interrogation” because of the negative connotations. I think a lot of the difficulties that officers are facing nowadays are reflected in our stories.

RC: We’re definitely touching on a lot of the issues that have to do with multimedia. Everybody has a camera, everybody has a phone. So you really have to make sure that you come correct!

Why do you think the show has been so successful?

PK: I think the fan base has been a huge part of the show’s success! Raymond also probably has stalkers, that’s why! But in all seriousness, we’re very active on social media platforms, and we love interacting directly with the fans. There’s a rabid group of fans in South America—young ladies that get together and watch the show—and they’ve become friends with fans from different countries as a result! They’ve connected with fans in Slovenia, France, Germany, all over the world. And we do interact with them too, so I think that’s a big part.

I also think that this is a show that does not glorify violence. Especially against women or children. We treat it very delicately. And this is a show that, the entire family can sit down and watch. And often times we hear that! So, the show carves out some time when families can come together. I think that’s a big part of the success.

How do you get back into character after time away from the set? Do you indulge in a certain ritual, or does it come down to something like costuming?

RC: I like to drive around impersonating a police officer. I never put it down!

PK: Ha! Well Raymond works not just on the show, but he’s done so many other things. So I guess it’s probably a more involved process for him since he has to transition between all those different characters that are so distinct. Whereas me, I’ve been very fortunate to play the same character for the last 13 years! But it’s also a double-edged sword because I’m working on 23 episodes a year. For me, the clothes really do help me find who Buzz is because his style is not similar to mine.

RC: I think having a beautiful set really helps me get into character. You get to set and the environment is there and it brings you back to the character.

PK: It’s also about creating a safe environment. The producers are very keen on that, and everybody here is given an opportunity to bring their A-game. Everyone on set is also very supportive. Raymond and I have been friends since pretty much the beginning, the first year of the show. He was my best man at my wedding. So, there have been some long-term friendships that have developed over the years, and I think that comes through on the screen. You can see the camaraderie—you can see the love and the support that we give each other.