As a giant lover of animals, dogs in particular, we wanted to start off by asking about your first love: Is it true that growing up you originally wanted to be a veterinarian?
James McDaniel: First of all I wasn’t into dogs or cats, I was into horses and livestock. When I was a kid I was an equestrian and I figured that would be a normal transition. Unfortunately the thing I didn’t take into account was that it would be a very rural lifestyle. Driving a pick up truck from town to town, dirt roads, walking through cow patties with a rubber glove going up to my shoulder. I hadn’t thought about the lifestyle. And once I figured out that maybe that wasn’t the lifestyle for me, being a city boy I though maybe I could be an actor.
Were you at all apprehensive about signing onto DETROIT 1-8-7 having spent almost a decade on NYPD BLUE, one of television’s most iconic cop shows?
I don’t see much of a comparison between the two shows. The genre doesn’t really matter that much because at the end of the day being a Cop is what we do, but that’s not what we’re really showing the American public. The better you get to know these people, each episode is about a certain theme, a certain part of humanity. It doesn’t matter if you’r wearing cowboy hats, fireman or if we’re doctors or whatever, the reason they pick these genres because generally they present life and death situations so the stakes are very very high. So the fact that i’m playing another cop doesn’t matter to me, it’s a very different cop and I defy anyone to detect there are any strains between NYPD Blue’s Arthur Fancy and Jesse Longford.
Was one of the aspects that attracted you to the show getting the opportunity to be paired up with a younger cop?
Yeah I think it’s great. I love working with Shaun [Majumder] because he comes from a completely different place than I come from. Shaun comes from comedy [and Canada], so melding those two together once we start to understand each other, I think it’s a really nice combination.
Whose idea was your character’s obsession with Tuscany, and do you think it will ever become a reality?
Well there’s only one way to find out, just keeping tuning in on Tuesday. That trip to Italy was in the very original script, retirement in Tuscany and to mourn the death of his wife it was just there and it colours everything he does. I love it.
And finally, with GLEE being all the rage we have to ask you about your time on COP ROCK, the short-lived Steven Bochco series that featured singing detectives. Do you think it was just ahead of its time?
Yeah we were anachronistic, man! But at the time we knew it was ahead of its time, it wasn’t a surprise to us, we knew it was a crazy idea. But it’s often referred to being one of the wackiest craziest stupidest things ever being done on television, but there was a film called “The Singing Detective,” then “Pennies From Heaven,” which were those things, marvellous pieces of film. So it was possible, maybe it was too ambitious being on television week-to-week, and it was a possible idea, and GLEE shows that.
DETROIT 1-8-7 airs Tuesday nights at 10PM on ABC