Shemar Moore has more similarities to S.W.A.T.‘s Lieut. Hondo than people may think.
Longtime Emmy award winning actor best known for his role as Malcolm Winters on Young and the Restless (1994-2005) and as Derek Morgan on CBS’ Criminal Minds (2005-2016) will be making a return to television. This time around Moore will be the lead playing the infamous Lieutenant Daniel ‘Hondo’ Harrelson. On a panel after a private screening of S.W.A.T.’s pilot Moore revealed he’s finally doing what’s in his heart, he said at 2017 National Association of Black Journalists Convention.
“For 24 years I’ve made the most of what’s available to me. Now I’m doing what’s in my heart and whats moved me,” Moore said. “I call this a dream job [but] what I’m not supposed to tell Hollywood, [and] Thank God and I deserve that they’re paying me but my spirit was like ‘I’d do this shit for free.’
“I believe in the potential.”
Being a black lead on a television show with a black executive producer in Aaron Rahsaan Thomas who aims to tell diverse stories is what intrigued Moore, he said. While FOX has been ordering more diverse shows with black male leads Morris Chestnut’s Rosewood was canceled last spring after two seasons and both 24: Legacy staring Corey Hawkins and Shots Fired starring Sanaa Lathan were canceled after one season. With S.W.A.T., Thomas is confident they will show networks why diversity in storytelling is a must.
“Hollywood hasn’t necessarily had the best track record with sustained attention to diverse storytelling but the idea right now is to be so successful, so good, that its really no alternative but to hear these stories,” Thomas said.
For Moore, he’s playing a character he could somewhat relate to. Born in east Oakland, California Moore understands the perspective of those living in the hood from family members of his that’s remained there that he often visits. As someone who wants to see an end to racial injustice performed by police he sees that with his character Hondo.
In the story Hondo is from from south Los Angeles and after growing frustrated with injustices between the police his father inspired him to become a detective to create a solution.
“He didn’t become a cop to sellout, he became a cop because he believed he could change the perception of how blue and the justice system was looking at home,” he said. “So there’s similarities that I feel that I have that I can bring to the table in my life…I can relate to what Hondo is doing.”
While his mother didn’t like how dark Criminals Minds was Moore was surprised of her reaction when he said he’d be playing Hondo in S.W.A.T.
“I said ‘mom, I have a big ol’ gun now.’ She’s like ‘yeah, but you using that for good,'” Moore said.
Bringing a black hero on television has motivated Moore as he’s been active in the gun range, gained 12 pounds weightlifting and undergoing training with L.A.P.D. S.W.A.T., San Francisco S.W.A.T. and SEAL Team Six. Listening to stories from officers in those fields have helped him as well.
“They’ve been in the trenches. They done killed some people, they’ve seen some people die all for the sake of protecting us. They done lost their brothers and sisters. They are physical specimens so the stuff I’m doing in the gym is not to be cute, it’s to give it integrity,” Moore said. “As much as we want to entertain you, we want the men and women in blue who are training us to look at that…we owe them some respect.”
This very same passion and dedication from Moore is why Thomas knew Moore was a perfect casting.
“At the end of the day you know he’s going to bring it,” Thomas said. “That dedication and that passion are two combinations you don’t get with everyone. With him, you get [it] in abundance.”
With the show having permission to shoot anywhere in Los Angeles the plan is to take advantage of that to tell many stories reflecting on the cities diversity, Thomas said. In addition, this show provides a different experience that viewers are accustomed to watching in a cop or mystery murder show.
“Instead of a case per week we look at it as an adventure per week,” he said.
Plots will focus on tracking down people rather than starting with a murder and figuring out along with the cast who did what.
“We’re going to give you your steak and your potatoes and then we’ll give you your greens…that’s the DNA of the show,” Thomas said. “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 its going to open your mind.”
The realness of this show will be unparalleled to other action shows on networks, according to Moore. He’s also hoping this show can be a catalyst to cease racial injustice.
“Hopefully, we can prevent more people from getting hurt by creating a compassion and humanity and a little more of an exhale to create a little more unity with S.W.A.T.,” Moore said.
Normally playing a ladies man, Moore assures fans will see a different side of him in this show.
“From action to cut I’m a bad man,” Moore said.
As a show, he’s confident the entire cast and crew will pull off making S.W.A.T. a buzz worthy show.
“Not only is S.W.A.T. going to be a hit…its on white ass CBS,” Moore said. “We are going to change the CBS game, the network game.”
S.W.A.T. premieres 10pm EST Thursday, November 2.
By Gino Terrell