Nathan, you are the star of The Rookie which is debuting this month on ABC. You play John Nolan who is the oldest rookie in the LAPD. How does it feel to be the "oldest new cop"?
It's a natural progression to play different types of acting roles. In my earlier years of acting, I started as the young one, someone's son. Then an uncle, then a dad to a baby, then a 14-year old who grew to adulthood. Now I’m the oldest one. I qualify as grandfather age. Does it feel weird? Yes. But I’m still working!
The Rookie is based on a true story. Did you meet with the real cop your character is based upon?
While The Rookie is inspired by a true story, we really aren’t trying to mirror someone’s life with this show. We are simply running with something that has actually happened. However, we do have consultants on our show who help keep the police procedurals and content authentic.
Tell us a little bit more about the history behind The Rookie. How did the series come about and what attracted you the most to the project?
What’s important here is perspective. What attracts one to a show as entertainment isn’t the same as what attracts me as employment. It’s important to me that not only a show be good, but I’m going to be able to enjoy the intense schedule that’s required to make a television series. The prospect of working with Alexi Hawley was the first and most important thing that attracted me to the project. Being able to work for Mark Gordon is an incredible opportunity that any sane actor would jump at. After all that came the script, the cast, and the crew.
One of your most popular roles is that of crime-writer and crime-solver Rick Castle from the fan-favorite series of the same name which remains one of the most widely-aired series around the world. What are the main similarities and differences between the two characters?
John Nolan is reality-based. His feet are firmly on the ground, whereas Castle was always up in the clouds, his every day a fantasy. Both men do have extraordinary hair, though.
What is the role you would like to play or a series/film you would love to star in?
Anything in the Marvel and Star Wars Universes.
You are a definitely a man of changes. Have you thought of some alternative careers if you ever get fed up with acting? What would they be?
When acting dries up, I plan to buy a boat and take people on sunset cruises, scuba dives, and secret spots of rare beauty. That way, just like back on Firefly, everyone would still have to call me Captain.
You are actively involved in arts and culture campaigns. Could you tell us more about these initiatives?
I’m involved with a number of orphanages in developing countries including Sawla Children’s Home which provides the basic needs and a safe place for orphaned children in Ghana. I’m also very passionate about charitywater.org, which helps bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries. It’s been extremely rewarding to raise awareness of these incredible causes and to be able to involve fans who have been very supportive in contributing to the efforts behind these campaigns. Both organizations make getting involved and doing good so easy.
Alexi, who are the other main characters in the series? Are they going to give The Rookie hard time or help him throughout his journey as a LAPD cop?
While our show centers around John Nolan, the oldest rookie in the LAPD, the series surrounds him with a diverse ensemble. Our main cast includes Nolan’s two fellow rookies Jackson West (Titus Makin) and Lucy Chen (Melissa O’Neil), their training officers Talia Bishop (Afton Williamson), Tim Bradford (Eric Winter), and Angela Lopez (Alyssa Diaz), as well as Watch Commander Wade Grey (Richard T. Jones), and Captain Zoe Andersen (Mercedes Mason).
The challenges Nolan faces on the job come in many forms, from the real-life dangers of police work, to the physical demands of becoming a cop in your forties, to a watch commander who believes that Nolan has become a cop for the wrong reasons. Every week, Nolan will face these challenges with determination and a strong sense of humor.
There are lots of cop shows on air. What are The Rookie's main elements that make it fresh and set it aside from similar shows on TV?
Network television is full of investigative shows, but there hasn’t been a big, fun patrol show in a long time. The Rookie stands out because it tells diverse stories about our uniformed cops as they patrol the streets of Los Angeles — going from intense situations to comedic or emotional ones.
What are the cases investigated by the rookies in the series? Will you have separate stories in each episode or is there one main theme throughout the season?
Whereas most investigative shows follow one case, The Rookie tells multiple stories that vary in size, tone and intensity. Every week Nolan and his fellow officers will tackle everything from a routine traffic stop, to a major drug bust. But no matter the story, the heart of the show lives in the impact these cases have on our characters.