The TNT action drama Dark Blue, which follows an elite team of undercover detectives, returns for it’s second season on August 4th. In the world of law enforcement, being an undercover cop is among the most dangerous jobs. It’s a huge adrenaline rush while, at the same time, it jeopardizes the lives of anyone who does it.
During an interview to promote the new season, actor Dylan McDermott talked about working for Jerry Bruckheimer, the joy in playing such a challenging role and how glad he is for the addition of Tricia Helfer. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Question: How do you feel going into the second season?
Dylan: I feel good. We looked back on Season 1 and decided what worked and what didn’t work, and 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 2, it’s much more dynamic than it was in Season 1. 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.
How would you describe this show to someone that has never seen it?
Dylan: Dark Blue is ultimately a gritty crime drama, at its core. I don’t think that is ever going to change. It’s an undercover cop show with fascinating characters, especially in this particular season. There is a lot of humor and a lot of care between the characters. I think these characters really care for each other, are worried about each and have each other’s backs. And, I think Dark Blue looks like a movie. Every episode that I’ve seen looks like a little mini-movie. It also has fascinating characters. In Season 2, you’re going to see every character have their shining moment.
What is Jerry Bruckheimer’s involvement, on a day-to-day basis? What is he like to work for?
Dylan: He thought 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, he reads the scripts and he’s completely involved in the show. He is the mega-success that he is because he still really pays attention when he doesn’t really have to. I’m really impressed by his work ethic and that he thought of me for this. I’m forever grateful for that.
What is it about the show that continues to challenge you?
Dylan: Anytime you do this kind of acting, in a police role or undercover role, it’s fascinating. I love that world. I’ve always been fascinated by Baretta and Donny Brasco, and other undercover cops in movies. It’s just always been something that’s interested me. I think this is a show, if we gather an audience this year, that can be on for many years. And, with the addition of Tricia Helfer, 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 television.
At this point, you’ve played both sides of law and order in a TV series, 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 personality more?
Dylan: I don’t know if I could be any of these guys, really. To be a lawyer, it’s such difficult work, taking on cases. And, to be a cop and do the hours they do and deal with the criminal aspect, I’m so happy that I’m an actor, to tell you the truth. I don’t know if I would want to climb inside their shoes for 20 or 30 years and do this type of work. It must be so harrowing. I’m grateful that I’m an actor and I can just step into the shoes, and then get out after awhile.
In your initial research for this role, 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? Is it true that some people recognized you as Bobby Donnell from The Practice?
Dylan: Yeah, they did. Some of them wanted me to represent them, which was strange. Going into South Central Los Angeles or Compton, these are worlds that you don’t normally go into, so I love the type of work, where I can do research and interview people, and get inside people’s 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, I never think that anybody is going to recognize me, and they did. My cover, as a person, was blown, and 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 and pulling over gang-bangers, or going into the projects, or having them show me photos of murder scenes is gold for an actor. It’s horrible for life, but for an actor, 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.
You’ve worked for network television and now you’re on cable. What are the biggest differences for you?
Dylan: It has changed so radically. 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. Network television really relies on story rather than character, and 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. I think Damages had like 600,000 people watching it, and it was a great show. Character is key, and character is king on cable. On network, it’s really more about the franchise and story.
Is there a difference for you, personally? Do you have more time off to do other projects?
Dylan: Well, yeah. On cable, we’re only doing 10 episodes a year, which takes three or four months, at most. On The Practice, we used to do like 22 or 24 episodes, which would take up 10 months of the year. So, it frees me up and I get to do other things now. I like that aspect because, when you’re doing 22 or 24 episodes, it is grueling. You are there for 16 hours a day sometimes, for 10 months of the year, and it really takes a big toll on you.
Can you talk a little bit about your working dynamic with Tricia and what her character will bring to challenge Carter this season?
Dylan: This is 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. I think 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. So, I think that she’s going to challenge him, in ways that I don’t think he was actually prepared for. In Season 1, he was closed down and not willing. In Season 2, we find him in a garden, which is really a metaphor for him attempting to change and grow, and she is a big part of that. She is going to open him. I think that something had died in him long ago, and he had given up on himself somewhere, and she brings all of that back to life.
How much input do you have into this character?
Dylan: In the first season, I trusted the writers to take me on this little journey. And then, luckily, we had the luxury to look back on Season 1 and ask, “Okay, what worked and what didn’t work?,” and 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 go home and talk to someone.
Do you have an ideal storyline that you’d love to see Carter involved in?
Dylan: I think that Season 2 accomplishes a lot of what I dreamt for the character. We’re going to see him go through everything he can possibly go through, and 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, and there’s going to be a cliffhanger in the finale. So, the show finds its voice, in this season. I was really pleased that we just graduated to a whole different level this year.
What drives you to succeed?
Dylan: I don’t know. I suppose that I still love acting. I loved it when I began at 15 years old 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. And, I still feel that same way. There’s an expression that I get to have in acting that I can’t consciously express in my life. It has always defined me and it always will.
DARK BLUE returns to TNT for Season 2 on August 4th