Training Day, the CBS cop show that premieres Thursday, will be pushing the boundaries of network television, according to actress Katrina Law, who plays a detective in the show. The new series, which co-stars Bill Paxton, will delve into questions about excessive police force and whether the ends justify the means.
Newsarama readers will recognize Law as the actress who plays Nyssa al Ghul in Arrow and other CW superhero shows. In Training Day, her role is Detective Rebecca Lee, a tough cop who might be a little too willing to do whatever it takes to stop crime.
Set in the same world as the gritty 2001 Denzel Washington/Ethan Hawke film of the same name, Training Day picks up several years later but has a similar scenario as the award-winning movie. In the show, a decorated cop named Kyle Craig (played by Justin Cornwell) has been assigned as a trainee to Detective Frank Roarke (Paxton). But Kyle's real (yet secret) task is to catch Roarke and friends - including Law's Detective Lee - doing something illegal.
Newsarama talked to Law about her role in the show, what it was like acting opposite a well-known star (and fellow comic book TV show alum) like Bill Paxton, and what makes Training Day different from most other network cop shows.
Newsarama: Will fans of the 2001 vehicle starring Denzel Washington recognize this version of Training Day? It sounds like it explores some of the same themes, although it's not a reboot or anything, is it?
Katrina Law: I know people get a little nervous when they hear that people are doing remakes or they're bringing a movie to television, but the cool thing about this version of Training Day is that it's actually a sequel and it's not a remake.
So yes, we do technically live in the same world, and Denzel Washington's character Alonzo has died, and now we're dealing with the repercussions of the scandal that happened within the Los Angeles Police Department.
And with everything that's going on in the news now, it's such a relevant conversation between what is considered excessive force and what is considered necessary force, and what side you're on.
Nrama: So what side does your character fall on? Can you describe the woman you're playing? She's a detective, right?
Nrama: Yes, my character is a detective in the SIS [Special Investigations Section] division of the LAPD. She works very closely with Frank Roarke, who is played by Bill Paxton.
And she herself is very much questionable as to whether or not she would be considered a good cop or a bad cop. And that kind of follows suit with the movie. Do the ends justify the means?
Nrama: A lot of Newsarama readers know you from Arrow. Is this character at all similar to Nyssa al Ghul?
Law: One of the biggest differences between Nyssa and Rebecca Lee is Nyssa grew up in the League of Assassins, and she had what she considered a great childhood. She knew who she was, she knew what her place in the world was, and she knew eventually that she would become the Demon's Head.
So she went through life knowing what her place was, but then eventually, as things started to happen, she lost one thing after another and realized she had nothing. And she had to reestablish herself and what her life meant to her.
Rebecca Lee is the complete opposite. She had one of the worst childhoods possible. She barely remembers her parents. She was sold into human trafficking at the age of maybe seven or eight and was eventually saved by Frank Roarke. And then she lived in foster homes throughout her entire life.
And eventually, because she did idolize Frank and considers him a hero, she also went in to LAPD and is now fighting for the lives of others and for justice and making sure that nothing like what happened to her ever happens to another person again.
So it's almost the opposite story.
And not to say that Nyssa doesn't have a sense of humor - she's growing one - but I think Rebecca Lee has a very, very dark, twisted sense of humor.
Nrama: I assume that, for people who didn't see the Training Day movie, you've got a whole new story where they can pick up, but it looks like there might be some overlap or maybe Easter eggs for fans of the film. Tom Beringer's coming back for his role from the movie, right?
Law: Yeah, we do have a couple people who make cameos in the movie that are essentially still playing the same characters in the television show.
But with episode one and through the first season, the primary story follows the world of Frank and Kyle and the immediate people in their lives.
Nrama: You mentioned that the subject matter of Training Day is timely right now. Do you get the sense that the writers have to tread lightly as they deal with these controversial issues, or do they dive right in as part of the drama?
Law: You know what? I think Training Day is just going full out and diving in. Nobody's excluded. Nobody's safe in this show. It just really - it'll be interesting to see what the fan response is and see who thinks our hero team was justified in doing what they were doing.
And if they don't agree with our hero team, what would they have done instead?
I think it's going to spark a lot of conversations. And like I said, it'll be interesting to see what on what side of the line people fall - and if they flip-flop every week or if they're consistently along for the ride with our heroes.
Nrama: What was it like working with Bill Paxton?
Law: So, when I found out Bill Paxton was going to be the lead of our show, I had a little nerd, freak-out moment because…. it's Bill Paxton! And… game over, man! It's just super cool.
And then I met him in person, and every nice thing that I've ever thought about him turned out to be true. He is a great set leader. He's a great person to have working with the crew every morning. He comes in with a smile and he says good morning to everyone. He's just as nice to the crew as the cast, and to the catering staff as he is to the directors and the production team.
So he's wonderful.
Working with Bill is really fun, because he works very much the same way that I do. So it's very much delving into backstory and maybe some memories that our characters may have had together.
And it's been an interesting discovery process, because the more we find out about each other's characters, the more we actually learn about our own characters. So there will be times when we'll be like, "Oh, you know what? In the last episode, I said this, and now we're doing that, so maybe this meant that for years, we used to do this together."
It's been a really fun process creating backstory together with him and developing a relationship and trying to make it come across that we have actually spent the past 20 years of our lives together.
Nrama: There have been a lot of cop shows on television. How would you describe Training Day? Is it like the movie? And if so, how?
Law: I think the number one thing that will make you feel like you're living in the movie world of Training Day is they use the same color palette. So the texture of the sky and the city will feel the same as the movie.
So it's gritty, and it's got that beautiful orange shade when the sun is setting in L.A. And it shows the haze that kind of sits over our city all the time.
And I think for a CBS show, I think CBS has been daring on this one, because it does go a lot darker and grittier than what you normally see from CBS and from network television.
So I'm excited for people to get a little bit of the cable world bleeding into network television. And hopefully they enjoy it.