Nathan Fillion is John Nolan in THE ROOKIE - Season 2 | ©2020 ABC/Andrew Eccles)

Nathan Fillion is John Nolan in THE ROOKIE – Season 2 | ©2020 ABC/Andrew Eccles)

THE ROOKIE returns for the second half of its second season on ABC on Sunday, February 23. Nathan Fillion’s title character, John Nolan, is currently the oldest rookie in the Los Angeles Police Department. When the show comes back from its midseason cliffhanger, Nolan is caught up with the rest of his colleagues in the search for kidnapped fellow rookie Lucy Chen (Melissa O’Neil). Nolan is also contending with a new training officer, former undercover operative Nyla Harper (Mekia Cox).

Fillion previously starred for eight seasons as the crime-solving lead on ABC’s CASTLE and is still beloved for playing Malcolm Reynolds in the science-fiction series FIREFLY and its feature film sequel SERENITY. Additionally, Fillion starred in director James Gunn’s first feature, SLITHER.

ASSIGNMENT X: THE ROOKIE creator Alexi Hawley said you’ve made some good casting suggestions for the show, such as Enver Gjokaj, who plays your training officer’s ex-husband, and of course Alan Tudyk …

NATHAN FILLION: I would love to take credit for anything going on on THE ROOKIE. We’ve been so very, very fortunate, and Alexi knows exactly what he’s doing. He is crafting a clever show, and he’s building it from the ground up with excellent actors. And I reap the benefits of that.

AX: Was Alan Tudyk as the crime scene cleaner your suggestion?

FILLION: I didn’t even have to suggest Alan Tudyk. We were dying to get him on CASTLE when Alexi and I were back on CASTLE, and it just didn’t work out. So this was us making good on that attempt so many years ago, and finally getting him to come in and do stuff with us on THE ROOKIE. And I think it worked out so well. I’m so happy with his stuff.

AX: Where do you want to see Nolan go within the police department? Because Nolan could be the oldest rookie training officer, the oldest rookie detective, and they can keep the title THE ROOKIE. How long do you think his training period as a police officer is going to last?

FILLION: I’m not overly concerned about the title. The title is the concept. He’s starting over. He’s the new guy, he’s fresh. His whole life is a redo. Where I’d like to see it go? I would like to see successes, but I would like to see it through challenge. I would like to see the victories mean something, because they don’t come easy. I would like to see him make something of himself, I would like to see something taken away. I want to see him suffer, and I want to see him persevere through that.

AX: Nolan was a building contractor before he was a cop, and now we’re seeing him renovating the house he just bought, tearing out walls and putting up new ones. Have you had to learn anything about carpentry for those scenes?

FILLION: I’ve learned better spackling techniques. But thank God, they don’t have me doing any real heavy lifting. Especially measurements. I can’t do the measurement stuff. That’s all math. I have math anxiety. We have a stunt mathematician come in and do that.

AX: Do you feel like the change in Nolan’s training officer character has given you more opportunity to do different kinds of things, because of the new training officer’s undercover history that’s spilling into her current work?

FILLION: Certainly. Whenever you introduce a new character, that character has their own wants and desires, and their own agenda, and their own personality. So there’s going to be a different dynamic whenever you bring in a new person, and in the same way you don’t know how someone treats a waiter until you go to a restaurant with them, you don’t know how they’re going to be in a situation until you can find them in that situation.

Melissa O'Neil, Mekia Cox, Nathan Fillion and Eric Winter in THE ROOKIE - Season 2 | ©2020 ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Melissa O’Neil, Mekia Cox, Nathan Fillion and Eric Winter in THE ROOKIE – Season 2 | ©2020 ABC/Kelsey McNeal

AX: You’ve had the opportunity, with training officer Nyla, to play Nolan going undercover. You don’t often if ever get cast as scumbags, so was it difficult for you to play Nolan going undercover as a scumbag? Were you concerned about being a convincing scumbag, or were you just playing Nolan being concerned about being a convincing scumbag?

FILLION: Yeah. [laughs] I didn’t want to take it too deep. We’re kind of going to INCEPTION-level here. But no. It was just Nolan trying to not be as polished as he knows he is.

AX: How is it playing the father of a son old enough to get engaged?

FILLION: I started in this business [playing] someone’s son. Then an uncle. Then in this business, I was married. Then I had a baby. Then I had a fourteen-year-old girl [on CASTLE], I watched her grow up into adulthood, and now I am of the age where my TV kids can get married. It is a natural progression, and my only question is, who pays for that wedding? Because it’s on a cop’s salary.

Nathan Fillion is John Nolan in THE ROOKIE - Season 2 | ©2020 ABC/Andrew Eccles)

Nathan Fillion is John Nolan in THE ROOKIE – Season 2 | ©2020 ABC/Andrew Eccles)

AX: Maybe Nolan ca get his rich friend, the character played by Currie Graham, to foot the bill …

FILLION: There you go.

AX: What’s been the most fun thing you’ve gotten to do as Nolan, and what’s been the most difficult/scary thing?

FILLION: The most fun things I get to do are the scenes where there’s a lot of us around. The more the merrier on my show. I find it very satisfying watching my cast work, and I love watching them work together. It truly entertains me, and I marvel at their talent. The scariest thing for me – always fight scenes, fight scenes and stunts. You don’t want to get hurt, and you don’t want to hurt somebody. And everybody works together to try to keep everybody safe, and that’s actually a real concern for me, a real-life concern. Safety.

AX: But they throw the stunt people in at some point …

FILLION: Sometimes. Sometimes it’s me, sometimes I bruise a rib, then I feel it for a month-and-a-half. Safety. You don’t want anybody to get hurt.

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

FILLION: I’m going to be in the sequel to SUICIDE SQUAD [directed by James Gunn], in case anybody forgot. Boom.

AX: Playing …?

FILLION: I’m not at liberty to say.

AX: Fair enough. And what would you most like people to know about the rest of THE ROOKIE Season 2?

FILLION: Well, we’re on a midseason cliffhanger. When we come back, we’re going to see what happens. We left it off in a very intense place for Lucy Chen. We’ll see how things shake out for her. I love that our show is easy to watch, but at the same time, it’s a dangerous job. We have to dip into the intensity every once in a while. I’m looking forward to seeing more of that.

This interview was conducted at ABC’s party for the Winter 2020 Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour.

Related: THE ROOKIE: Richard T. Jones talks about Season 1 – Exclusive Interview

Related: THE ROOKIE:  Star Nathan Fillion gives the scoop on Season 1 of his new cop drama – Exclusive Interview

Related: THE ROOKIE:  Creator Alexi Hawley chats about Season 1 of his new Nathan Fillion series

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Article: THE ROOKIE: Nathan Fillion chats Season 2


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