ABC crime drama 'The Rookie' airs on October 16, and while Nathan Fillion’s return to television was much anticipated as the good-cop, we catch up with his on-screen nemesis, Richard T Jones, who, however, cannot give us any dirt on the 'Castle' star.
"I wish I had dirt for you. But I don't. He is fabulous," says Richard T Jones, who plays Sergeant Wade Grey, a Los Angeles Police Department watch commander, who rivals 40-year-old rookie John Nolan, played by Fillion.
The series, based on a true story, follows Nolan, who moves from his comfortable small-town life to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of being a police officer for the LAPD, as he navigates through the dangers, humor and unpredictable world of a "young" cop.
In an exclusive with Meaww, Jones talks about the on-screen challenges of playing the strict sergeant, when in fact he is a humorous entertainer off the screen. Well, his greatest challenge was to be mad at Fillion because he is the "nicest."
Tell us about Sergeant Wade Grey and your personal opinion about him.
The character is a watch commander, who has a group of young men training under him. He is like the drill sergeant overseeing an army, sending them out and giving instructions for the day. He is a man who is very devoted to his group and is very passionate about them. But when it comes to John Nolan, Grey is taken aback because he is an older rookie who comes with a lot of experience. Coming with the mindset that you know it all, can put people in danger, just because they think they know things. I am not a fan of men over a certain age come into the force (laughs). I see Nolan as a threat so I try to weed him out. He is a loose card and wild card for me and in this particular business, people lives are in danger, if you won't follow orders. If you think you know too much people can die. So I'd rather not take that risk. He is a high risk for me.
In your long career since 1993, you've played a lot of detective and cop roles. How is this different from the roles you've played in the past?
This particular role is very different. Although there are similarities, I am trying to play him with a different type of strength. He is more of a caring father as he fathers these young officers. He might have the same job in the same city, but you find qualities that are different in this particular character where he is a little more caring. Although it does not look that way.
Do you personally relate to the character of Sergeant Wade Grey or are you a completely different person than him?
In reality, I am completely different. If you're with me on the set I am the biggest clown. I love to have fun and I truly believe we have the privileged job of entertaining people and we cannot do that if we don't entertain ourselves while working. I ensure we do not take ourselves too seriously although we are trying to get a job done (laughs).
How is your off-screen chemistry with Nathan Fillion?
He is fabulous. I wish I had dirt for you. He is so gracious, caring and giving. Maybe because he was born in Canada (laughs). He is a nice by default. He is very down to earth and humble. You can't work with a nicer guy. I am so fortunate to have this role with him.
.@richjonesactor speaks on his role as Sergeant Grey, the old school cop in #TheRookie! pic.twitter.com/ZdWbKk1tvs— The Rookie (@therookie) September 11, 2018
What was the most challenging part of playing Sergeant Wade Grey?
The hardest thing to do is be mad at Nathan's character because he is actually a good cop. What I love about my character is, as I go down this road, I am starting to acknowledge that little more. I think he is out of place but I cannot deny how good a job he is doing. If he was in his 20s I would be praising him. But he is in his 40s, so I am skeptical about him. The hardest thing to do is always trying to find something negative about Nathan's character. So that's the challenge for me and for the writers. It's not a challenge in a bad way but in how can we make this better kind of way. I love that, so it's a fun process to make things better.
Sergeant roles such as that of Robert Barnes and Gunnery are among the iconic Sergeant roles played till date. Do you think Sergeant Wade Grey will find a place among them?
Hopefully. I hope people gravitate to my character and see me. This particular piece has a lot of humanity in it; there's humor and we try to make it really conversational the way cops really are. Hopefully, it will be new and refreshing to a procedural cop drama. You will see them interact the way cops really do, so it's not always tough, tough, tough, not always dramatic, dramatic, dramatic, but there are these moments with comedic touches because that is what life is.
So do you enjoy filming?
I do. I happened to be so blessed to work with a fabulous group of people. We are so not taking ourselves seriously so we are so fortunate to put together a group of people that really love spending time together. When you're doing a show, a drama, you become a family, spending time together. They become your second family, so it's so important you get a group of people that can get along and have fun together. We plan dates together,go for movies and barbecues. We watch the show with delight because it's so different than who we really are. Everybody is different from who they play.
Is it true that 'The Rookie is based on a true story?
It is. In fact, the officer was there, he still works, but every once in a while he comes to the set. No, Sergeant Grey isn't based on a true story but every watch commander I have met are really hard. All cops I have met are hard but watch commanders are harder. I am hard on Nolan, but not on any other rookie. Other watch commanders were hard on everybody and they are all in 20s at that time. I want to be authentic and entertaining as possible, so its great.
Anything else you would like to highlight?
'The Rookie' is a procedural drama with a heart. It's going to be one of those shows you're gonna have to tune in each week. I wish it could be a binge watch because it's gonna be hard to wait, but it's going to be exciting with what we are doing with television right now. I can't believe we are doing it. We are doing a lot of action and drama. I did not think it was going to be this much action but it is, I think the audience is going to have a fun ride so I am excited for them and us.