Who says you can’t start over at 40? That’s the question audiences will have to decide for themselves once TV’s newest cop drama, The Rookie hits the small screen.
The Rookie is the much-anticipated new series starring Nathan Fillion, premiering October 16 on ABC and CTV, following the end of his long-running tenure on Castle. He stars as John Nolan, a 40-year-old divorcee who makes a serious life change by becoming a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. The story follows Nolan as he learns what it takes to be a cop on the streets of LA.
The TV Junkies spoke with co-stars Richard T. Jones and Eric Winter, who play Sergeant Wade Grey and Officer Tim Bradford, respectively, at CTV’s Upfront presentation in spring to learn more about the series. The actors shared their thoughts on their new characters, what went into preparing for the series, and how the ensemble is an important part of what makes the show work.
The Series is a True Ensemble
While much of the press and lead-up to the series had revolved around its star, Fillion, Jones and Winter say it’s far from a one-man show. “The show is a really good ensemble, a true ensemble,” says Winter. “All of the characters involved have great backstories that you see very clearly in the pilot.”
Fillion’s character is joined by two other rookies, played by Melissa O’Neil (Dark Matter) and Titus Makin Jr. (The Path), who are just as tested by their superiors. In the show’s first hour we quickly learn about their reasons for joining the force. “It’s a rare opportunity, especially in television, to get a script that is basically a procedural cop show, but has characters fleshed out the way this particular show does,” says Jones.
Of course, the series is still full of classic Fillion charm, according to Winter. “You get a lot of Nathan’s brilliance, of what he does so well,” he says. “He’s got a great onscreen presence.”
We Quickly Get to Know the Characters
As much as we get to know the rookies at the LAPD, we also get a glimpse into the stories of their superior officers. Eric Winter describes his character as “the biggest jerk” in the LAPD. “[I play] a very hard-ass militant, you know, a strict training officer,” says Winter. “You’ll see I have a backstory that’s kind of shaped who I am and why I’m so passionate about what I do.”
Jones says his character is responsible for each person who comes and goes from the precinct, which makes him very protective of the officers he’s charged with. “I really enjoyed the peaks and the valleys of my character and my backstory that [creator] Alexi [Hawley] really drew out,” he says. “We’ll see that throughout the series.”
They’re Tough on the Rookies for a Reason
For Jones’ character, at least, that protectiveness is what drives his tough exterior toward the older rookie, and create a major challenge for him. “When Nolan comes in I’m hesitant to accept him because I think he might be a liability to the team,” he says. “I’m very determined to make him quit unless this is really what he’s supposed to do.”
Winter’s character, on the other hand, takes on the responsibility of antagonizing the other two rookies, particularly O’Neil’s Lucy. “I take my job very serious,” he says. “[I] feel it is my job to get my rookie to quit and want to give up to make sure they’re really cut out for the streets.
Cast Members Received Real LAPD training
To make the series look as realistic as possible the actors went through training with LAPD officers, learning the ins and outs of how the LAPD draw their weapons or clear a room in a dangerous situation. “I thought it was very interesting just to go through the dynamics of what they do daily,” says Jones.
It turns out that police protocols are far more precise than the actors imagined. “What’s funny is the real life LAPD see a lot of these cops shows and they say, ‘oh, that’s nonsense. That’s not how we do it,'” adds Winter. “We didn’t know that every police department has different protocol just in regards to pulling a gun and how they do it, the structure to it.”
It’s As Much about the Characters as it is about the Cases
While The Rookie fits under the umbrella of police procedural, Winter says it’s more akin to fellow ABC series Grey’s Anatomy when it comes to getting to know the characters. “You’re not just watching the case of the week, as is the situation with most procedurals,” he says. “This is really about these officers and their journeys. How they got where they are, where they’re going. What they do after hours and while on the clock.”
“It has action, has humor, it has drama,” adds Jones. “It’s one of those shows that is fully rounded.”
Are you looking forward to watching The Rookie? Share your thoughts on the new series in the comments below.
The Rookie premieres Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC and CTV.
Associate Editor Kelly Townsend always had strong opinions on TV growing up, so it was only natural to evolve from couch musings to online journalism. She can't ever choose a favorite series, so please don't ask. Her writing has also appeared on IndieWire and Tribute.ca. You can find her on Twitter at @kellybtownsend.