Cops and Actors

So far this year, I’ve worked on two productions (one TV series and one feature film) which involve people playing cops (detectives, in particular). One thing I’ve noticed on both projects (and in general) is that when actors plays cops they usually take one of two approaches:

1) 60-70% of actors will, well, act. They will play the part, for better or worse.

2) The remaining 40-30% of actors will dredge up some ridiculous “cop” pantomime, based loosely upon what they’ve seen (or remembered) from such seminal TV shows as Streets of San Francisco and films like Serpico. You can identify these actors by their insistence on swaggering up and down hallways, chewing up the scenery, and making any weaknesses in the dialogue that much worse with their ham-fisted delivery, as if they were channelling some sort of Bad Cop Actor deity.

It’s hilarious.

Quite often, there are two cops in any given TV show or film – partners, of course – and chances are, each of them will don one of the two examples listed above. Predictably, as follows the format of scripts these days, the “good cop” will be an actor trying to play a cop. The “bad cop” will be the person constantly slamming binders closed, and yelling things like: “Look, pal – we’re running out of time! There’s a killer still out there!“.

Okay, at least I find it amusing…


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