The Dallas Examiner
A dynamic reboot of the action-drama show S.W.A.T. will air next month as Criminal Minds star Shemar Moore combines his star power with executive producer Aaron Rahsaan Thomas’ creative talent.
The CBS show, which has its roots in the popular 1970s series and a 2003 big-budget film, is being marketed as “a realistic and sensitive look at the brave men and women who form the administrative and tactical elements of the L.A.P.D. Metro S.W.A.T. Team.”
During a media conference to promote the series, both Moore and Thomas announced the show will be mostly about fun and excitement, but certainly will delve into the real-life ethics that involve police and civilian interactions, all while being presented with an ethnically diverse cast.
“We all know what’s going on,” the producer said. “We all know what’s been going on since forever, and certainly where I was growing up. I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. I grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood. I grew up in a neighborhood that had a really complicated view towards police officers.
“The story I tell is, there was a 12-year-old kid that was to the right of our house who was literally shot and killed by police officers. On the other hand, a couple of doors down the opposite way was a guy who was a police officer who lived in our neighborhood, so we literally grew up with a love/hate relationship towards the police. So ever since I was a kid I always had an idea that it would be really interesting to have a character who understood both sides of the Black Lives Matter/Blue Lives Matter debate. It’s just a matter of putting the pieces together to really bring that story in a best way to an audience.”
Thomas used the original show as an example to describe the premise as taking a property an audience thinks it knows and “turning it on its head by using modern, topical issues.”
Especially significant to both producer and star is that CBS will air the show. The network has long been considered by many as having the lowest number of racially diverse major performers.
“CBS has been very good to me my whole career,” offered Moore, who plays Los Angeles S.W.A.T. commander Lieutenant Dan “Hondo” Harrelson, as he praised the network for his time on Criminal Minds and The Young and The Restless.
“I built a fan base, I built my resume, I built my chops on that network and that network has surrounded me with people that said, ‘Hey, we don’t want to let you go because you’ve been so good to us. We’ve got an opportunity for you,’” he said.
After meeting the producers and further learning about the show’s method and intent in the storytelling, Moore and the production team came to an agreement that would make the actor the first ever Black leading-character action star for the network.
“We are going to raise the bar. We want to change the landscape of what you see on network television. We want to create diversity; we want to create conversation – not just diversity because a Black man is the lead,” Moore expressed. “Not just diversity because you see different colors on the screen, but diversity of the kind of stories that we all – Black, White, green and yellow – (are) all capable of telling together.”
The performer also shared some of his personal life when it came to how important playing Hondo is to him.
“I’m from East Oakland,” he confessed. “Some of my family’s dead, some of my family’s in jail, some of my family made it out of the ‘hood, some of my family – I still go back to where I come from.”
Moore continued to express that Hondo was raised in the same situation, saw injustice in the form of law enforcement within his environment and got out of the ‘hood as well, exactly what the actor experienced. He remarked that Hondo, like many activists in reality, wanted to return to the neighborhood to fix the problems and change perceptions – perceptions that not only the police had about Oakland residents, but also the perceptions the residents had about law enforcement.
“So there are similarities that I feel that I have that I feel I can bring to the table in my life, my life experience as Shemar, that I related to where Hondo’s coming from. And then, it’s just a really good time,” he said of the main point of the show.
Part of preparing for his role meant training with members of the L.A. S.W.A.T. team; running, shooting, rappelling and so on, which the actor said he loved. Thomas commented further on the importance of such immersive preparation for the show.
“We also have a premise that allows us to go into various different neighborhoods throughout the city of Los Angeles, and we see the city as a character unto itself,” the producer said as he described this method of storytelling as a way of presenting the city as “a microcosm of the entire world.”
Moore considered his character a bit more and remarked that, regrettably, actors such as Morris Chestnut, Dennis Haysbert and LL Cool J were no longer playing lead roles on series television, saying he hopes that his new role will be a rebirth for larger, more frequent casting of minorities.
“This is a huge opportunity for me. This is a huge responsibility for me,” Moore affirmed. “I want to represent myself and I want to represent all of you in the right way. I want to continue to open the door so that there’re more faces of color in the forefront. There’re more stories of color and diversity in the forefront.
“I’m being very serious right now, but when you see S.W.A.T., our first priority is to thrill the you-know-what out of you. It’s a good time. When you watch S.W.A.T. you’re going to have a good time, but it’s going to be laced with something that you can identify with, and it’s going to open your mind.”
S.W.A.T. is set to premiere Nov. 2 at 9 p.m. Central Time.