Award-winning actor, model and philanthropist Shemar Moore talks to STACK about his first lead role playing Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson in the latest S.W.A.T. reboot.
Inspired by the 1970s TV series and the 2003 feature film starring Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell, CBS’s S.W.A.T. series remains faithful to its predecessors while carving out its own identity.
“S.W.A.T.is like watching a movie every week on television,” says star Shemar Moore of the reboot. “It’s like The Fast and the Furious, it’s like [the] Bourne [franchise], and it’s like the movie S.W.A.T., except we don’t want to repeat the movie.
“We’re going to give you the signatures, which is the theme song, [S.W.A.T. vehicle] Black Betty, and the cool action, but we don’t just want to be a cool show. We want to be real and we want to make the S.W.A.T. members who are training us – our tactical advisers who have dealt with real life and death, who have seen the dark side and somehow still fight for the light side, who risk their lives every day to leave their families and go help complete strangers – find justice proud.”
Best known to audiences for his role as Derek Morgan for 11 seasons on the hit crime series Criminal Minds, Moore stepped up and beefed up to play “Hondo”.
“I joke that Hondo is Derek Morgan on steroids,” says Moore. “Physically I gained 12-15 pounds to have the certain presence that I felt Hondo needed, because I definitely wanted to have a different presence than I did on Criminal Minds, but also the mindset of S.W.A.T.
“I have had to step up my intensity, emotional range and leadership capabilities because I am the lead of the show and also the leader of the S.W.A.T. team, so there’s a lot more responsibility and a lot more pressure involved as an actor and as a character. But I’m having a lot of fun rising to the challenge, and the action is so thrilling and the stunts so fun to do that we are like big kids playing cops and robbers.”
Amid the action-packed scenes and larger-than-life stunts, S.W.A.T.tackles hard-hitting topical issues of police brutality, racial profiling and domestic terrorism.
“S.W.A.T. is a good-time, interesting, exciting show, but with a poignant message that pertains to real life issues,” explains Moore.
“A TV show can’t fix the problems that are going on in the United States and around the world, but it can create a different mindset if people really want a chance at faith, hope, and a belief of a better, safer, united place, all the while having a good time.
“What is very important to me, and that’s going to continue to evolve, is the humanity, the emotion in the story and the character development. Even though [the characters] come off as super cops, once you really get to understand them and see underneath the armour and the human side of us, we all have kryptonite. It is a fun show, but there is a human story and a human message that I hope people will gravitate to and will resonate with people.”
Season two promises more thrilling, edge-of-your-seat drama,with Moore announcing day one of filming via an Instagram post shot on a helipad atop the highest building in LA.
“It’s really cool,” says Moore of the renewal. “It’s hard enough to get a show off the ground, but to get the fan base and to get the studios behind you and really believing in the potential of the show – I’m really proud of all of us.
“We’re a hit show because we have good writing, we have good producers, and we have a very hungry, excited cast. Everybody really enjoys coming to work, and while the hours can be long and gruelling at times, we know we’re making something unique, original and hot that’s kind of different and new for network television.”