One bonus of being an actor is you get to learn all sorts of skills — from swordplay to horseback riding to peering at computer screens as if there’s something actually on them — and when you’re an actor who plays a police detective, it gets even better.
Of course, you must learn how to shoot a gun (or at least look like you’re shooting a gun), how to recite a Miranda warning and how to scramble up a chain-link fence while chasing a fleeing suspect.
While waiting in an Encino, Calif., cul-de-sac for a fireball to engulf an unfortunate car in an episode of NBC’s new Wednesday drama, “Law & Order: Los Angeles” — called “Sylmar,” the episode is currently scheduled for Oct. 20 — the show’s stars share what they’ve learned so far.
As it turns out, the fence-climbing thing has not proven to be a problem.
“Do they have chain-link fences in Los Angeles?” says New Yorker Corey Stoll, who plays LAPD Detective Tomas “T.J.” Jaruszalski. “I haven’t had to do that yet. I’ve had to work on my joint-rolling skills. That comes up in a future episode.”
Asked if his joint-rolling skills were rusty, Stoll says, “They were, actually. Sad to say, they were rusty.”
Regarding his suspect-tackling technique, Stoll says. “I’m pretty good at that, done a little bit of chasing people down. I go right up to them, and then I send in my stunt double.”
Stoll and co-star Skeet Ulrich, who plays Jaruszalski’s partner, Detective Rex Winters, have also learned how to slap on handcuffs.
“My cuffing skills have grown immensely,” says Ulrich. “We had probably 20 takes on one scene, cuffing these kids. I think I didn’t get them cuffed only once in those 20 takes. I’ve gotten pretty good at it — I don’t know why or how.
“I guess, because when you do it in a scene, you do it so many times. It’d take a regular policeman a couple of weeks to cuff somebody that many times. Guns are no issue [for me]. Cuffs are unique, though. Of course, we’ve got compliant cuff-ees, so it’s a little easier.”
“Cuffing is very difficult,” says Stoll. “Apparently that’s one thing that they spend an enormous amount of time on in the force, more time than gun training. I think that’s because it’s something you also do a lot more often.
“Even when somebody wants you to cuff them, it’s difficult. You have to get the wrist just right, and if anybody has a sleeve on, it gets caught in the sleeve. Especially when you’re trying to do it on camera, you’re trying to get it done faster than a cop needs to get it done. A cop has all the time in the world to do it.”
Not all skills an actor learns come in handy in real life, but Ulrich, the father of fraternal twins born in 2001, says jokingly, “My kids will be teenagers eventually, so cuffing might come in handy. ‘Yeah, I will cuff you!'”
Ulrich reveals that while his kids were initially impressed that he was carrying a police sidearm, “now they’re kind of over it. They want me to carry a shotgun now.”
Photo credits: NBC