The new police drama Deputy, which premieres on Monday, 11 May at 20:00 on Universal TV (DStv 117) brings the spirit of a classic Western and a gritty authenticity to the modern cop drama.
When the Sherrif of Los Angeles County drops dead Deputy Bill Hollister (Stephen Dorff), a career lawman, becomes the acting sheriff. With a reputation for playing by his own rules and defying the system, Bill intends to restore what he believes is a lost sense of honour and duty among his officers.
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Stephen best known for True Detective, tells us more about his new role and what it was like doing a ride-along with a real-life deputy.
Your character is more of a nature guy, but he's now working in the city with all the politics of being a sheriff. So, I was wondering, are you a nature guy or more of a city boy?
Yeah, I mean I think coming off of True Detective which was, so character-driven and so different from network TV, it was hard to jump into this show. But, I did see an opportunity in Bill Hollister that I didn't see in a lot of network and cable TV shows. I liked the fact that David Ayer was directing. I was a fan of End of Watch and Fury and some of the smaller intimate character-driven films he's done. He really brings an authentic look to the streets because he comes to the streets in a lot of ways.
The authenticity was really important, and I thought: "Wow, I have the right director." This is the first time he's stepping into this TV foray; I'm new to this foray. As long as we get good actors around me, my wife, best friend, and the writing is there, then we can push this and make a typical cop show, but have it elevated to a much more modern place that we're all in today.
And as far as me personally, I'm really split between city and nature. I like the beach and being in the middle of nowhere, but I'm from the city. I'm from LA. My parents are from NY. So, I grew up kind of in both. There are really no cities like LA and NY, and they really couldn't be more different. I'm kind of a city boy I think at heart, you know – Stephen. I never was a big horseback rider, but I'm getting better at it.
The western thing has kind of followed me around from True Detective, into the film I did that's coming this summer where I play a street fighter who goes from Alabama, to Bill Hollister, even though Bill is from California, he's a California rancher.
They live out in Santa Clarita and he would much rather be on a horse than in a boardroom with a bunch of suits. That's just who he is. So, it's kind of interesting when I pick where I'm gonna wear the uniform and where I don't because Bill is the kind of guy that doesn't really want to wear the uniform and doesn't feel like he needs to for a bunch of suits who are doing the wrong things for the department, you know he's going to shake it up. Up until election time, and I think then he'll have to put on the uniform and play the game, daddy.
(A CAREER LAWMAN: Sheriff Bill Hollister is about to shake things up in the police department. Photo: Universal TV)
You said initially that you have been hanging out with real deputies. How true to life is his role? Because I'm guessing your character sees a lot more action than a regular sheriff.
I sat on a couple of ride-alongs where we tracked a guy from Burbank all the way to Long Beach. We followed them with second cars on the freeway. He had no idea. We're all unmarked cars. They're all in plain clothes. It was pretty exciting. And it could have gotten hairy, he could have gotten out of the car with a gun and then there would have been in a shoot-out.
Mark Schlagle [Deputy Sheriff of Jefferson County] was trying to protect me that day. And I was in the head honcho's car, a little bit behind. But we were in it, you know, we were on that mission.
I did a couple of other missions with him. When they're home with their families, they're always kind of on a case. They're always on. I mean, it's really interesting.
I have a funny story about the first day I met Mark, which I said I would talk about in interviews.
I had to drive from Malibu to Burbank to meet them at 08:00 at a Starbucks. It's where the team meets. It was a whole operation, put a tracker on his car – and all this stuff.
So, I get there at 08:00 park my car, and wonder, 'Is this cool to park here?' I figure well I'm with sheriffs. I got back at 17:00, and my car had been towed. So, Mark Schlagle, the sheriff from the sheriff's department, had to drive me to like Sunland in the valley to get my car. It was pretty funny.
(Compiled by Leandra Engelbrecht. Source: Universal TV)