It’s not easy
going undercover after you spent six years in one of the biggest hit
series on television. That blend ability is even tougher when you
have been named one of People magazine’s sexiest men twice in the
McDermott doesn’t care. He’s an actor, and to him it’s all about
blending. He enjoys putting on different outfits and characters and
disappearing into them. So whether you see him as crusading lawyer
Bobby Donnell of The Practice or Secret Service Agent Al
D’Andrea in In the Line of Fire or even as the cute lawyer
next door Bryan Bedford in the remake of Miracle on 34th Street
– McDermott is always bringing surprises to the table.
role fits straight into that – as an undercover cop in the Jerry
Bruckheimer-produced TNT action drama Dark Blue. The series
is coming back for a second season with actress Tricia Helfer (Battlestar
Galactica, Burn Notice) as a new regular and a new outlook on
A couple of
weeks before the second season premiere, McDermott sat down with us
and some other website to discuss the new season and his career.
question is just very basic. How do you feel going into the second
I feel good.
We looked back on season one and decided what worked and what didn't
work. We wanted to make this show lighter and a little bit more
humorous. We brought in Tricia Helfer as the romantic interest for
Carter Shaw and that opened up the show a great deal. Looking at
the show for season two, it's much more dynamic than it was in
season one. Also just selfishly for my character, I think it's so
much more interesting to have and do police work and be in a
relationship at the same time.
I know you've
mentioned the new changes to the show, and I'm wondering what is it
about the show that continues to challenge you in your role as well.
you do acting in a police role or undercover role, to me it's
fascinating. I love that world. I've always been fascinated by
Baretta and Donnie Brasco and other undercover cops in
movies. It's just always been something that's interested me. So I
think this is a show if we gather an audience this year that can be
on for many years. With the addition of Tricia, I think that we have
the whole package now. I just love this character. I love playing
him and I love the cases and the danger that the show brings to
at this point, you've played both sides of law and order in a TV
series – both as a police officer and a lawyer. Which do you think
you'd be better at in real life and which one fits your own
Oh, man. I
don't know if I could play any of these guys really. To be a lawyer,
it is such difficult work and taking on cases. To be a cop, to do
the hours they do and deal with the criminal aspect. I'm so happy
I'm an actor to tell you the truth, because I don't know if I would
want to climb inside their shoes for 20, 30 years and do this type
of work. It must be so harrowing after a while. I'm grateful that
I'm an actor and I can just step into shoes and get out after a
Now I know that in your initial research with this
that you did a lot of drive-alongs with the LAPD. What were some of
the more interesting things that you noticed on those drive-alongs?
And is it true that some people recognized you as Bobby Donnell?
did. Some of them wanted me to represent them, which was strange of
course. Going into south central Los Angeles or Compton, these are
worlds that you don't normally go into, so I love this type of work.
I love where I can do research, and interview people. Get inside
peoples' heads, and look at their behavior and what they don't tell
me. Those things are all fascinating to me. When I get to do that
and have a bird's eye view into different worlds, that's the most
exciting thing for me as an actor. But when you are doing that, I
never think that anybody is going to recognize me. And they did.
That's when my cover as a person is blown. That's not always fun
because I want to be anonymous when I'm doing research. I don't want
anybody to recognize me. I want to be the character. Going into
these worlds is pulling over gangbangers, or going into the
projects, or them showing me photos of murder scenes. All of that
stuff is just gold for an actor. It's horrible for life, but
especially for me when I get to see stuff like that; I get to use it
for my character and dive deeper into this world.
It is tough being
an icon I guess.
don't think so.
you worked for network television and now you're on cable, what are
the biggest differences for you?
Well you know
what? It has changed so radically. I mean network television - I
think with the rise of cable, network is clearly floundering because
the characters on cable are far more fascinating than they are on
network. Network television is trying to figure it out, but network
television really relies on story rather than character and I think
that cable relies on character. I think that's the biggest
difference. You don't have to have a huge number on cable to stay
on. Damages had like 600,000 people watching it and it was a
great show. Character is key and character is king on cable and on
network it's really more about franchise and story.
Is there is a
difference for you personally? Like do they give you more time off
to do other projects?
Well, yeah. On
cable, we're only doing ten episodes a year. On The Practice,
we used to do like 22, 24 episodes, which would take up ten months
of the year where doing ten episodes is like three, four months at
the most. So I get to do other things and it frees me up. I like
that aspect because when you're doing 22, 24 episodes, it is
grueling. You are there for sixteen hours a day sometimes for ten
months of the year. It really you know takes a big toll on you.
What is Jerry
Bruckheimer's involvement in the day-to-day aspect? Do you have any
experiences working with him that you could describe?
of me initially for the role, so I thank him dearly for that. I had
known Jerry over the years and it was his idea to bring me in for
the show. Jerry is obviously a very busy man and he's got 1,000
projects going at once. I'm always surprised how interested he is.
He watches the dailies and he reads the scripts and he's completely
involved in the show. That's why he is the mega success that he is
because he really pays attention still when he doesn't really have
to. I'm really impressed by his work ethic and that he really
thought of me for this. I'm forever grateful for that.
would like to hear your take on
How would you describe it to someone that has never seen it?
is a gritty crime drama ultimately at its core. I don't think that's
ever going to change. It's an undercover cop show with fascinating
characters and - especially in this particular season, there is a
lot of humor and a lot of care between the characters. These
characters really care for each other and are worried about each and
have each other's backs. I think Dark Blue looks like a
movie. Every episode that I've seen looks like a little mini movie,
and again I go back to character. It has fascinating characters. In
season two, you're going to see every character have their shining
Could you talk a
little bit about your working dynamic with Tricia and what her
character will bring to challenge Carter this season?
exactly what I thought this show should have - a love interest for
Carter. It's just much more dynamic to have him in a relationship.
Tricia is a beautiful woman, and she's really talented. She can
stand toe to toe with Carter, which is not an easy thing because he
is brooding at times. He is difficult and you need someone who can
come in and go toe to toe with him. I think that she's
challenge him in ways that I don't think he was actually prepared
for. In season one, he was sort of closed down and not willing. We
find him in season two in a garden,
is really a metaphor for him that he is attempting to change, and he
is attempting grow,
is a big part of that.
She is going
to open him up in ways. Something had died in him long ago and he
had given up on himself somewhere, and she brings all of that back
You've been talking about how important the
characters are. I was wondering how much
input you have with the writers about Carter as a character. Also,
do you have an ideal storyline that you'd love to see Carter
Well yeah. In
the first season, I trusted the writers to take me on this little
journey. Then luckily we had the luxury to look back on season one
and say, “Well okay, what worked and what didn't work?” I sat down
with them and told them what I thought. Certainly the number one
thing was to have a love interest because you forgive a character a
lot more when he can you know go home and talk to someone. In terms
of a storyline, season two accomplishes a lot of what I dreamt for
the character. We're going to see him go through everything he can
possibly go through. He's going to be a character within a character
at times. He's going to be undercover in really dangerous
situations. He's going to fall in love. There's going to be a
cliffhanger at the end in the finale, so everything I thought that
the show should be - it finds its voice in this season. I was really
pleased that the show just graduated to a whole different level this
year. I was more pleased by that than anything else.
you to succeed, and literally what kind of car do you drive?
What drives me
to succeed? I don't know. I suppose that I still love it. I still
love acting. I loved it when I began when I was fifteen years old
with HB Studios in New York. When I first walked on that stage,
there was something about it that I felt like I needed to do. I
always felt like I needed to act. Not that I wanted to act, but I
needed to. I feel that same way. There's an expression that I get to
have in acting that I don't normally have in my life - that I can't
consciously express in my life. So I use that somewhere. It has
always defined me and it always will. In terms of cars that I drive,
I have a 1988 911 – a classic - black.
That's hung in
Yeah, I love
that car. It's still the car I drive all the time.
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