The Fox drama series Deputy follows Bill Hollister (Stephen Dorff), a fifth-generation lawman who suddenly finds himself running the Los Angeles Country Sheriff’s Department when the elected Sheriff dies and a rule that dates back to the Wild West puts him in charge. And while the pursuit of justice is his number one priority, being in this new position teaches him that doing what he feels is right can ruffle more than a few feathers.
While at the Fox portion of the Television Critics Association Press Tour, actor Bex Taylor-Klaus (who plays Deputy Bishop, the fiery and sarcastic driver in charge of Hollister’s security detail) sat down with Collider for this 1-on-1 interview about wanting to play this character so badly, the journey back to the role after not initially getting it, the surprising Hollister-Bishop dynamic, working with executive producer/director David Ayer, collaborating with showrunner Kim Harrison, and the challenge of getting hired for roles that you feel connected to.
Collider: Bishop is an amazing character, but what was she like on paper, when you got this script?
BEX TAYLOR-KLAUS: The original breakdown for Bishop was “compact lesbian supermodel.” So, in my audition, they were like, “What’s your height?,” and I was like, “I’m a compact five-foot-three-and-a-quarter.” Actually, I didn’t get the job, but ended up being brought in after, during the first day of filming, as a recast. That was a hell of an experience. And I noticed that, as soon as the season got picked up and Episode 2 started going around, Bishop’s description changed from “compact lesbian supermodel” to “fiery androgynous bad-ass.” I was like, “Yeah, that’s it. That’s the one.” And that’s always how I played Bishop. I don’t feel like I took a lot of liberties with Bishop because, for me, it was all there, on the page. Everything that Bishop has been through and everything that Bishop wants to be, felt right there in front of me. I didn’t feel like I had to change anything.
It seems like a very rare character to see on TV. Does it feel that way to you?
TAYLOR-KLAUS: Yeah, it’s exhilarating. Bishop is so cool. Bishop is a sassy little shit. The thing is, Bishop may be sassy and snarky, but also efficient and talented and smart, and possibly the smartest person on the whole team. It’s really interesting. I don’t want to spoil anything because you’ve gotta watch it, but we do get to explore Bishop’s life and world, and who Bishop really is, which is great.
A character as old school as Bill Hollister seems like he’d be more judgmental, but he’s very open to who Bishop is. Did you find that surprising?
TAYLOR-KLAUS: Yeah, it was very shocking and very exciting. At first glance, it’s a white dude show. And then, you actually start watching it and you’re like, “Oh, wait, hold on. What am I watching? What’s happening?” I’m really excited about that. I view it as how the world needs to be. I view Hollister as how the world needs to be. He’s a guy who’s set in his ways, but he’s a compassionate guy and he’s got a big heart. He’s gruff and he’s bad-ass, but he’s got a big heart and he uses that big heart, surrounded by an armada. At least he’s fighting for the right things. In some ways, this show is a love letter to the L.A. Sheriff’s Department, and what I like about it is that we’re gonna show the good, the bad, and the ugly. We want to show the truth, and the truth isn’t always the happiest thing. Sometimes it’s inconvenient. And I think that we do a pretty cool job of being as honest as we can.
As an actor, having a project like this come your way, not getting it, and then having it come back, is that a typical thing that happens, in this business, or was that the first time something like this had happened to you?
TAYLOR-KLAUS: This was actually the second time that it’s happened to me. I’m not a typical person. Nothing in my career has been typical. I have this philosophy that, once you’re done with the audition, you’re done, so stop thinking about it. Otherwise, you’re gonna drive yourself sick. If you just forget about it and move on with your life, and then, you get that call saying, “We want you,” then you’re like, “Oh, that’s so exciting,” versus obsessing over it, and then, when you get that call, you don’t really get to enjoy it. So, I let it go. I really liked this one and thought it would be really cool, but I let it go. And then, after the audition, I didn’t hear anything, not even call back. So, when I got that call, my agent basically said, “Do you remember that show Deputy?” And I was like, “Yeah, actually I do. I really liked it.” They said, “David Ayer wants to meet you. Turn the car around.” I was on my way out of Atlanta. I had been there for a family thing, and I was on my way to the airport, when I get that call saying, “David Ayer wants to meet you on set, right now. Where are you? Let me get you the address. Don’t go. Turn the car around.” So, we did, and I changed clothes in the back of the car. My dad drove me and I went to sit in a trailer with David Ayer, where we talked about life. The next morning, I was on set, working on the episode. It was so fast.
Even if you hadn’t gotten this role, do you think you would have tuned in to the show anyway?
TAYLOR-KLAUS: Absolutely! At the very least, I would want to see who they got to play Bishop because it’s a fun character. I’m just really glad it worked out. I really am.
What was it like to work with David Ayer on this?
TAYLOR-KLAUS: I love that guy. I absolutely love David Ayer. I think that he’s a mad man and a genius, and he really gets to the heart of people. His rehearsal processes is unlike anything else that I’ve ever experienced. He really opens you up and twists you out, to see what kind of juices you have to play the character with. I’m absolutely in awe of how he approaches things. His method is not always gonna be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is definitely mine. I love his work. I’m a big fan of his work, as a whole, and the way he works. And I think that he did a beautiful job setting the tone for this show. I love the way everything is done steady-cam and shaky, playing with lights and colors, and blowing things out and having lens flares. Fox really gave him freedom to do something unique to television, and he took it and ran with it, and it worked out so beautifully. I’m so proud of the other directors who’ve had to follow his lead. I’m glad that he’s the one who lead us.
One of the things that I love about his work is that he always gets great performances from his actors and seems to be able to pull things out of them that we don’t typically get to see them do.
TAYLOR-KLAUS: He’s so smart. He’s compassionate and he’s a tortured artist. He’s the whole package. I get him, and I get the way his brain works. It feels familiar. Working with him has been an honor. I would love to do it anytime he’s down. He’s talented and he gets beautiful performances out of people ‘cause he knows people. He knows the inner workings – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and he likes to ring you out and see what you’ve got. I respect that. I’m just so glad that he was the man at the helm, on this one.
I also love that this show has a black female showrunner.
TAYLOR-KLAUS: She’s the shit! I love Kim so much. She’s the best. When she became the showrunner, she called me in for meeting was like, “Hey, what do you wanna do? What have you always wanted to do? What do you wanna do with this character?” So, we had this great conversation. I pitched an idea, and she went to Fox, and Fox said, “Yes.” I’m not gonna tell you what the idea was ‘cause you’ve gotta watch the series, but it’s been collaborative. She’s obviously the boss, but she wants our input, she wants to know how we feel, and she wants to know what we think. She’s got this collaborative soul and a deep knowledge of these characters, which I think is so important. It’s been an absolute joy, honor and privilege to work with Kim. I think that having a black queer female showrunner is the coolest thing about this show. If you look at the billboards, you see a white man’s show. But then, you look at the showrunner and you’re like, “Oh, hang on. What are we really about to get?” And you realize, as you go through the episodes, that you get voices of people who feel like they’ve been silenced, and all because Kim works her ass off to make sure that happens. I love that. Representation matters, and who’s gonna feel that more than a queer woman of color?
You talked about how you’re not a typical person. When you audition for roles, does it feel challenging to find roles that you identify with, or is it more challenging to get people to see you in the roles that you’d like to do?
TAYLOR-KLAUS: Definitely the latter. I have so many times where I’m like, “Yo, I could slay the heck out of this role. I know you’re looking for something else. I know you’re looking for a different visual, but let me in, coach. I can knock this out of the park.” It’s not always gonna work out. It’s just not. But I’m hoping that I’m gonna get to the point in my career, where it’s gonna be less of a fight to be taken seriously. Every day, it feels like less of a fight to be taken seriously, and that’s really cool. But definitely, I have these characters, where I’m like, “I can do this! I’m positive I could kick this thing’s ass. But I don’t have long hair and big tits, so you’re probably gonna go a different direction.” What’s really cool is that I’m a non binary person, and I’m playing a lead in a network show on Fox. Holy crap! Is this real?! Someone pinch me, but please don’t ‘cause that’ll hurt.
Deputy airs on Thursday nights on Fox.