On Fox Monday nights following “24: Legacy” is the new police drama filled with everything high tech with “APB.”
The series tells the story of the Chicago Police Department and crime, shootings, corruption and under funding. Gideon Reeves played by Justin Kirk decides to help with technology and to help the police force rethink dealing with crime.
Wanting to make the 13th District the best, he enlists the help of Detective Theresa Murphy played by Natalie Martinez. She sees the potential of the technology Gideon wants to bring. Adding to the team is Officer Nicholas Brandt played by Taylor Handley and Tasha Goss played by Tamberla Perry.
It is a very skeptical Captain Ned Conrad who is willing to do anything to help the community that is being hit hardest by crime. The role of the Captain is played by none other than the amazingly talented Ernie Hudson.
Hudson, a graduate from Yale School of Drama, began his career in the 1970s dividing his time between film and television. Most of us came to know more of his work after his smash role in the 1984 film “Ghostbusters” and were thrilled at his return for a cameo in the 2016 retelling of “Ghostbusters.”
Hudson is keeping busy recently with his appearances on the Netflix series “Grace and Frankie,” the Epix series “Graves” with Nick Nolte and the high anticipated return of “Twin Peaks.” Now adding “APB” to his list of good work I had the opportunity to speak with him about the show and how his character evolved.
Jeri Jacquin: Thank you for talking to me today, I am actually more excited than you know.
Ernie Hudson: Why thank you.
JJ: It must be said that in our home we are huge “Ghostbusters” fans and, of course, we use lines from the characters in everyday conversation. The line we take from Zeddmore is “that’s a big Twinkie.”
EH: That’s so funny and it is so great that after all these years people have made that film so iconic. I hear things like that all the time and it really does mean a lot to me to know so thank you.
JJ: You are in a new series called “APB” on Fox playing the role of Captain Ned Conrad; tell me about this television project?
EH: When I got the script I thought it was such a different take on this genre for television. I was really intrigued by the stories and what part Conrad had to play. The way technology is brought into police work is something needed and I think everyone should have made available to them. I think the technology is something that is very much needed in law enforcement and can really help greatly. I’ve watched this show come together in such an amazing way.
JJ: It’s interesting because it’s rare to hear someone say we need more technology, I’m so use to hearing that we need less.
EH: Well, we need less when I’m having dinner with someone and they pull out their cell phone! I think technology can cut to the truth of things ultimately. It’s a double edge sword like every advancement; it can be either really good or really bad. Of course technology in the hands of the wrong people can be bad. I think it can make things simpler and I love on the show that we use the app that people feel they can connect immediately. I think the things that technology can do can make us more honest and it can be something for the better.
JJ: So you have this very interesting cast to work with and I see Captain Conrad as a bit of a father figure to the young officers. Does it feel a bit like that for your character?
EH: Yes, it really does because I have kids as well and I see how kids are into their toys and gadgets and it is part of their world. At the same time you want the young officers to know that someone is there for them. Also, there is a reason my character brings this old way of doing things because there is a protocol and it’s important that it’s understood. I also recognize that they have a different approach but it has to be set up because the Captain is preparing to turn things over to the group. They need to be aware of certain things before he does that, especially Gideon who has some issues. My character can’t let them use run amuck and do what ever they want without realizing that there are consequences. I think that’s how I see it anyway.
JJ: I see how you are trying to guide them with the technology, everyone has their own issue. I love when you rein them in and give them a shot of realism when they get too far.
EH: Good, I’m hoping the fans will see that as well and it can be seen in future episodes as well. I think we can’t write off the young people because they are coming through. We want to be able to share with them, connect with them and get as well as give respect. We want to make sure everyone is in a good place before they kick us out of the way.
JJ: How do you see your character moving forward?
EH: What was important to me, especially as the setting is in Chicago, we know they have issues that no one can understand. I don’t think there is any way to understand what is going on there. My character still lives in the community that is served by the police department. So in addition to him wanting to be a good law enforcement officer he also recognizes in a very real way some of the issues that are not working in his neighborhood. He also has the double edged sword in that he works for the police but also has children that have to live in this world. There is a reason why he wants it to work and a reason why he wants to be open to technology. For me as an African-American actor is the humanity of who he is as a human being. We only have a sense of that now and more will be written as the writers become more and more aware of who this guy is. We have an episode where he says criminals are criminals and we need to talk to these guys because of the damage they do but the Captain goes out of his comfort zone to try something different in handling them.
JJ: But he always lets it be known that this is “my town.” but he says it in such a deep and respectful way. You get it that he’s not going to tolerate much.
EH: I would love to see that approach taken by a lot of other people. I mean it is ours and we should claim it. We should not just excuse it and let it slide but instead say no. I think for a lot of African-Americans who left the old neighborhoods and moved on we still need to go back and say ‘this is my neighborhood’. There are people still there that are working for the ones who are left behind that we need to support with either our presence or money or whatever we can do. This is our country and we need to claim it in a very personal way that we don’t write off whole sections thinking they deserve it. I think it is personal and I think we need to claim all of it. The problem is when you have the inside group it creates these outside groups and it happens when we want to make one better or demonize the other. The reality is that it is all ours and we need to be there for each other. Certain things are just not acceptable.
JJ: I really understand that, I’ve lived in California most of my life and there are areas where I feel there has been a mental fence built with an X on it saying “don’t go there.”
EH: Exactly, sometimes they just say it and don’t try to hide it at all. It’s as if the people that live there don’t deserve something extra and I say no. I think somehow we have got to find a way to make all of us feeling we have a better chance at life. I mean you can screw it up but at least if you try you have a chance; that is the American dream for me. To say these kids are never going to have jobs and even if they play by the rules there is nothing for them makes no sense. I don’t play any game that I don’t think I can win. I became an actor because I said ‘I can do this’. Unless we can be free to do that then we all lose.
JJ: Well put and I think your character just came through a bit.
EH: See, I’m bring me to the role and that’s important. I’ve done shows where I’ve portrayed different characters that have nothing to do with me personally but with “APB” I do think it’s personal.
JJ: I can honestly say in the years I’ve been doing this that I’ve heard even a few say that a role is personal to them.
EH: I think we sometimes want to separate it. The character isn’t me of course but the character is definitely personal.
JJ: Because your role wasn’t specifically defined yet, do you think the writers let you create him?
EH: I think they were open to letting me show them what this character was. While we were there I had a cousin who was shot and see, that’s personal. You can’t come to Chicago and not know that you are making a statement about people in a place we are all impacted by. You have to take it seriously. You can’t just throw out stuff, you have to bring integrity to the writing and that’s important. I think being true and honest, it matters; especially now it matters.
JJ: There is a sadness, a heavy heartedness in Chicago.
EH: Yes, it’s deep in the spirit. We need to find a way to lift our spirits because this is us and I believe technology can help us do it.
JJ: Your show definitely has a lot to offer in the way of technology. One of the episodes the officers use a submarine and I can’t recall that in a police drama before either. More firsts for your show!
EH: They don’t use anything on the show that isn’t truly available. I want it to be available to the public and not just to corporations or wealthy people.
JJ: I’m hoping that comes through and that people get that about your show. Although your show does have a hacker of the technology and that character just gives me the skeevies.
EH: Yes, we do! You will have to watch the last two episodes of the season to find out how that all works out.
JJ: I am so honored to have talked to you today and thank you for continuing to bring amazing characters for us to enjoy. Congratulations on “APB!”
EH: Thank you Jeri. I appreciate that so much.
It must be said that talking to an actor I have enjoyed for years is such a thrill for me but talking to an actor whose work I’ve admired is a privilege. Ernie Hudson is such an actor who is a strong character in the new television series “APB.”
“APB” follows 24: Legacy Monday nights on FOX at 9 p.m. PT/ET, 8 p.m. CT. “ABP” is in its 11th week with the final episode of its first season on Monday, April 24.
In the end — police work isn’t rocket science, it’s harder!