Actor Raphael Sbarge had an interesting first half of 2014. He commuted back and forth between Vancouver, where he plays psychologist – and former cricket – Archie Hopper in ONCE UPON A TIME, and San Francisco and Los Angeles, where he plays Detective David Volk in TNT’s new series MURDER IN THE FIRST, created by Eric Lodal and the prolific Steven Bochco (NYPD BLUE, L.A. LAW and HILL STREET BLUES are a few of his other inventions).

MURDER IN THE FIRST, which airs Mondays at 10 PM, takes place in San Francisco, where the murder of the assistant of a wealthy, brainy entrepreneur (Tom Felton) winds up involving a lot of precinct detectives. The series films its exteriors on location, with interiors on soundstages inL.A.

Sbarge, originally from New York – he had a guest role in NYPD BLUE for Bochco way back when – is at a party TNT throws for the Television Critics Association. He talks a lot about MURDER and a little about doing TIME.

ASSIGNMENT X: Have you played a cop before?

RAPHAEL SBARGE: On different shows, I have. I’ve never done it in a long form. I’ve done arcs of things, playing an attorney on THE GUARDIAN and I’ve played some bad cops in shows, or a good cop gone bad. But this is going to be exciting, because this [Steven Bochco] is the guy that sort of invented the form, it seems like, or broke the mold and taught us all how to do it.

AX: Is this your first time playing a good cop?

SBARGE: Probably yes, I would say it was.

AX: Did you have to learn anything to play a cop?

SBARGE: Yeah, we sort of went to cop school, we’d go to the firing range and learn how to taser and how to handcuff people and how to take a room. Obviously, we’re detectives, so what you find out pretty quickly is that detectives generally come in after the cops have done all the dirty work, but in this case, we [went] out on a run with some detectives and spent the day with them.

AX: Anything scary happen during your ride-along, like in a high-speed chase?

SBARGE: No, but it was a lot of adrenaline.

AX: How are you balancing shooting MURDER IN THE FIRST and ONCE UPON A TIME?

SBARGE: There’s an opportunity to do a little bit of both. What we don’t know with ONCE UPON A TIME is, there are so many characters on the show, and some of these storylines that they’re working on, I don’t know anything definitive as to where it’s all headed. But it appears that they seem to want to keep bringing us back. So it’s great.

AX: They’re pretty different shows, but can you contrast the casts of MURDER and ONCE? Not that one is better or nicer than the other, but just in perhaps the vibe?

SBARGE: Of course. The first thing is, there are so many different storylines in the show. There are I’d say probably in ONCE UPON A TIME a lot of much younger, very beautiful people, and they’re also amazing actors. And to a person, also really decent people – Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Josh Dallas, Lana [Parrilla] – they’re all really good people, they really care about the work. What you have, obviously, with Steven and what they’re trying to do with this show [MURDER] is something grittier and a gritty detective show. As a result, you’ve got actors like Richard Schiff and Jamie Cromwell and you’ve got Tom Felton and you’ve got Ian Anthony Dale and you’ve got some other very attractive and really wonderful actors, but on par, I would say what Steven’s trying to do is something that’s a bit more real and obviously ONCE UPON A TIME has that more fantastical element to it.

AX: Are you getting to do exteriors for MURDER in San Francisco?

SBARGE: Yeah. He [Bochco] will do what he did with NYPD BLUE – he’ll shoot four or five episodes and we go up there and do exteriors for all those episodes at the same time.San Francisco is one of my favorite cities and it’s such a picturesque city and it’s great to be up there.

AX: Do you have any other projects going on that we should know about?

SBARGE: I’ve been producing a show with Ed Begley, Jr. called ON BEGLEY STREET, which is now currently on a new network called Evox Television, and it’s all about the building of his home, and other than that, I’m out here. I’m excited to see where [MURDER IN THE FIRST] goes.

Related: Exclusive Interview with MURDER IN THE FIRST star Taye Diggs

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