Jay Harrington – S.W.A.T.
By: Jamie Steinberg
Q) What are the recent projects that you are working on?
A) It’s been “S.W.A.T.” all day every day since last March or so. It’s been pretty crazy and I’m having the time of my life. I’m working really hard.
Q) How was your character David ‘Deacon’ Kay originally described to you?
A) The first little line of it was “team player, gets passed over, but does what is right for his teammates.” That’s essentially true, but I got a chance to meet with the writers before we started the series – right after the pilot. We talked about how he gets married, has three kids and religion is part of his life. He’s a Catholic and he’s faith driven, which gets him through some of the stuff he deals with. It was important to establish a family life. So often you see these characters on TV who go home and have trouble, but we wanted to create an environment where it is his happy place. So, we cast a great actress (Bre Blair) and have shot a bunch of episodes at the house with the kids. It’s been great.
Q) What was it about the character or series that made you want to be a part of it?
A) It’s a great character. He falls in line with all the other guys. These guys train and work hard and put themselves in dangerous positions, but there is a humanity to them as well. The strong silent type – at first doesn’t say much and that was kind of exciting. In fact, I had a scene a few episodes where I had a whole mouthful of words and I thought, “Jesus, it’s been a while since I had this much to say.” [laughs]
Q) How familiar were you with what a S.W.A.T. team does before joining the show?
A) Very little. As most people are, I’m familiar with what it is. It’s something that started fifty years ago, actually. Of course, I remember from when I was young the theme song to the show. I think it kind of broke into the radio and was a popular song, but I didn’t watch it or see the movie. Strangely enough, I actually auditioned for the movie back in 2003, but it’s nothing really to do with either of them. The name, the song and the character names are the same yet this is a whole new take on the idea of what these people do on a day to day basis. We’ve had the opportunity to meet with real LAPD and SWAT members and train with them. It’s really kind of fascinating what they do. In this day in age of things going on, what is exciting is to be able to give them a voice. It’s not been done before to this extent.
Q) With such great costars, you’ve had to have had some great behind the scenes moments. What stand out in your mind?
A) We have a blast! It’s serious stuff so that is sometime where you find the humor and alleviate some of the stress of what we’re doing and the physicality and emotions. One specific time I kind of had some fun with my coverage. We already had the takes we needed, but we were going again. In the scene I have a cell phone and I kind of hold it up to show that I’m waiting on a text. That day Shemar [Moore] brought in a whole case of Baby Girl iPhone covers with a picture of him shirtless. So, in that specific take I said my line all serious and held up the phone and point to him. [laughs] So, we try to keep it light since it is a lot of hours. But we’ve really formed a tight family atmosphere with the crew and the cast. We’re in the trenches together so it’s what you’ve got to do.
Q) What do you think it is about the show that has made it a fast fan favorite?
A) How much time, prep and training these specific officers do. They really don’t go into situations ever. Everything they are involving themselves in or being put into place is at a level ten. They are not just cowboys going in and figuring it out as they go. Everything is very tactical. It’s muscle memory. I was holding a banana today in line at the coffee shop and holding it with my trigger finger as if it were a gun. But they work extremely hard and their oath is to keep people safe that are put in harms way. It’s really amazing when you meet them in person. It’s kind of like meeting an athlete or someone you look up to from the outside. It’s kind of the way I felt when I met them.
Q) Is there anything else you want to be sure fans know about the series “S.W.A.T.?”
A) There is a lot of action. It moves. If you are a fan of television crime series as I am, what sets this apart is often times with these shows in the first few minutes you find out something bad has happened and then spend the hour finding out who done it. Ninety-five percent of our cases, the few minutes we know who did it and then spend the hour trying to figure out how to get them. It moves, but there is also a humanity to it. People who have stuck with it so far see their personal lives and how it effects each character – how they take it home and with their friends. I think that’s what people are drawn to. It’s the heart. When it’s exciting and fun, I do want to see what makes that person tick.