‘Shield’ cast offer their reflections

Actors take a look back at long-running series


What legacy does “The Shield” leave?

“I think it will mean something different to every person who watches it, but it’s a morality tale for me. You reap what you’ve sown, and you don’t get a free pass in life. Immoral behavior begets immoral behavior, and, ultimately, that was the downfall of Vic Mackey and obviously myself (Shane).”

Should viewers see Vic as hero or villain?

“I don’t believe the world is black and white. The better question is, ‘Should Vic see himself as a good guy or a villain?’ It’s real easy to root for a bad guy who does good things. Vic is such a complicated guy who has built his life on compartmentalization.”

Favorite scene?

“I can’t say that I have a favorite. I have a favorite storyline, and that is the relationship between Vic and Shane. I think it’s one of most complex relationships on television right now.”

Favorite on-set moment?

“It’s in Tijuana, with the closing down of one lane of the busiest border crossing in the world, and the four strike-team members with a supposed drug dealer in the trunk and U.S. Customs running by us to arrest somebody else in line.”


What legacy does “The Shield” leave?

“I think prior to ‘The Shield’ coming along, basic cable was sort of considered the redheaded stepchild of TV. ‘The Shield’ took necessity and turned it into a virtue. Rather than try to compete with other networks that have lots of money behind them, we turned it into a positive thing — handsome, gritty and realistic. ‘The Shield’ didn’t look like anything we’d seen before.”

Should viewers see Vic as hero or villain?

“I do not think Vic Mackey is admirable. If your daughter is missing, Vic Mackey is the guy you want looking for her. The interesting thing is that he’s exactly the guy you want to know to solve a problem. … He’s a tragic hero.”

Favorite scene?

“I’ll never forget the exhilaration and sense of uncertainty and excitement over what might happen in the scene in the pilot when Mackey tortures the pedophile. … I remember feeling that’s wrong, but if a cop is going to torture somebody, that’s the guy. … I felt bad and disliked myself for liking Mackey. It was a little taste of what was to come, good and bad.”


What legacy does “The Shield” leave?

“That it’s possible to have quality TV not on a broadcast network and not on HBO. When we kicked those doors open, a lot of shows were able to come in behind us and continue that quality.”

Should viewers see Vic as hero or villain?

“A villain along those lines of Richard III or Iago. The villain tells you he’s bad and behaves badly and enjoys it, and that makes for great drama.”

Favorite scene?

“One of my favorites involves me as the captain and I have to do a ride-along. A kid stole a bike and I take it from him. He said, ‘This isn’t right.’ I realize I took it from the wrong kid and I have to return it and the kid makes me eat crow.”

Favorite on-set moment?

“As the end of season one, (the late exec producer-director) Scott Brazil changed the shooting order so that as many of us in the cast could be together for the last shot. We said, ‘Can you believe it? If this catches wind, we’ve done it.’ I never forget that moment because we’ve never been the same since.”


What legacy does “The Shield” leave?

“I think it gave people an alternative to more generic TV. I don’t want to say we are more intelligent, but a more diverse choice.”

Should viewers see Vic as hero or villain?

“I think that’s the greatest thing about the show in that it forces viewers to make up their mind, and I don’t want to make it up for them. If they don’t know what he is, I feel it’s their moral dilemma.”

Favorite scene?

“A woman from the neighborhood came in to complain about violence. It has this incredible double layer where it felt like real police officers and a real dilemma. It was one of the most painful scenes because you felt guilty and helpless that you were not real police and could not do anything. It affected all of us when she came in.”

Favorite on-set moment?

“We always read our scripts together. I had watched Kenny Johnson coming up in a lot of under five-liners. It was a script where he finally got to speak. I hope I don’t sound like the ultimate momma, but I said, ‘Yeah!’ As an actor, you watch them grow, and when they get a chance to shine, it (is) really thrilling.”

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