×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Listen: Nathan Fillion on His New Show ‘The Rookie,’ Plus Taye Diggs Talks ‘All American’

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.

In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Debra Birnbaum, talks with Nathan Fillion, star of the new ABC drama “The Rookie.”

Listen to this week’s podcast for free below and at Apple Podcasts:

The project marked the first time Fillion ever pitched and sold a show to a network without having a pilot written. He jokingly likens the experience to selling a sandwich.

“If I told you I was gonna make you an amazing sandwich the bread’s gonna be fresh, it’s all your favorites, the tomato’s perfect, the shredded lettuce  you haven’t tasted it yet, but you know it’s gonna be a great sandwich,” he says of his blind confidence that the show would work.

Fillion’s character, John Nolan, is based on a “kernel of truth” — the true story of a cop who changed career paths in the middle of his life, leaving his construction job to become the oldest rookie on the LAPD. And it’s not easy playing a cop.

“Here’s what they don’t tell you,” he says, launching into a description of the police “costume” he wore to play a rookie officer. First of all, the garments are made of wool — not ideal for shooting in the L.A. heat. Plus, he had to wear a belt clipped with “heavy equipment that they’re wearing around their waist,” like a gun and a four-pound walkie talkie. The belt alone gave Fillion “a big purple bruise.”

But the biggest challenge, he says, was playing a police officer in a respectful and accurate way in a time when police face so much criticism in the media.

“Unfortunately, police doing their jobs and doing a good job…it doesn’t make for good news stories,” Fillion says. “When everything goes wrong for us, that’s when we call the police. That’s a heavy burden. You have to want to help.”

In the second half of the podcast, Variety‘s features editor of TV, Danielle Turchiano, talks with Taye Diggs of the CW’s “All American.”

The show is inspired by the real-life story of ex-NFL player Spencer Paysinger. Diggs plays Billy Baker, an ex-football player-turned-coach, who becomes a father figure to a high school football player (based on Paysinger) from South Central, who grapples with his conflicting roots when he is recruited to play for Beverly Hills High School.

Diggs says he is grateful to be able to relate on a personal level to so many elements of the story. Whatever personal experience evades him like having played football, which he never did he’s able to draw from speaking to Paysinger himself.

Diggs also spoke fondly of having the unique privilege of bringing his own personal experiences to the writers’ room.

“A lot of the shows don’t want the actors in the writing room,” he says, expressing how grateful he felt to have his input valued. “We sat for an hour just talking about our own personal situations and similarities to the stories of the characters.”

For Diggs, those similarities come because he is a father in real life as well as on the show.

And he has seen several hot button issues already brought up in the script for future episodes, including class, race, sexuality, identity, police brutality, and locker room culture. “I’m continuing to be impressed and amazed and proud that CW, the writers, the actors, producers, are all leaning into it because I think we need all of this now more than ever,” Diggs says.

New episodes of “Remote Controlled” are available every Friday. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or anywhere you download podcasts. You can find past episodes here and on Apple Podcasts.

More TV

  • Name Of The Rose

    Germany's Tele München Group Sold to Investment Firm KKR

    Global investment firm KKR has acquired Tele München Group, one of Germany’s largest television businesses. The surprise deal was announced Thursday. New York-based global investor KKR has holdings in multiple sectors, including infrastructure, energy and real estate. Tele München Group, or TMG, is active in both production and distribution; its projects include the highly anticipated [...]

  • UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report: Women, Minorities

    Hollywood Diversity Gains in TV but Falls Short in Movies

    Minorities and women have registered gains in several key areas of television but women continue to lag in movies, according to a report issued Thursday by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA. “My basic take is that TV is improving more for minorities and women than film,” said Dr. Darnell [...]

  • 60 Minutes" reporter Lara Logan takes

    Lara Logan Says She's Been 'Targeted' for Her Claims of Liberal Media Bias

    Former CBS News foreign correspondent Lara Logan appeared on “Hannity” Wednesday evening to expand on her recent remarks characterizing the media as “mostly liberal.” “It’s obvious, right, because you get targeted,” she said, explaining her earlier comments that she was committing “professional suicide” by criticizing the media. “It’s the same group of people, they’re already [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    'Empire' Producers Consider Suspending Jussie Smollett (EXCLUSIVE)

    Fox is considering removing Jussie Smollett from production on “Empire.” Sources close to the production told Variety that producers are weighing whether to suspend the actor after he was charged Wednesday in Chicago with filing a false police report. A spokesperson for 20th Century Fox Television, which produces the series, declined to comment. Smollett’s status on [...]

  • Game of Thrones Final Season: Best

    The Best 'Game of Thrones' Merch to Get You Ready for the New Season

    We’re just weeks away from the premiere of the final season of “Game of Thrones,” and whether you’re a die-hard fan, on the hunt for a novelty gift, or a serious collector hoping to nab some memorabilia before the series signs off for good, we’ve found 10 pieces of merch that pay tribute to one [...]

  • Ryan KadroPaleyLive NY: The News Is

    Ryan Kadro Will Join Quibi to Oversee News Programming (EXCLUSIVE)

    Ryan Kadro left CBS News several weeks ago, but he isn’t leaving the news business. Kadro, the former executive producer of “CBS This Morning” is set to join Quibi, the company led by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman that is devoted to short-form  content. Kadro is expected to oversee news programming for the subscription-based service, [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Charged With Filing False Police Report

    “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with filing a false police report, the Chicago police said Wednesday. “Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter. Smollett is due to appear in court for a bond hearing at 1:30 p.m. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content