Amber Tamblyn returns to TV for her first series role since fantasy drama Joan of Arcadia. Now she’s playing Detective Casey Shraeger in The Unusuals, a gritty series exploring both the drama and comic madness of the world of a New York City police detective. She told us about it.
What was it that appealed to you about your character in The Unusuals?
I saw a lot of potential in the idea of this young female cop who’s kind of a smartass and tomboyish. She’s a really good girl and very honest, and it’s a great character to play. I also love that she’s not a clichéd female character. She’s not a stereotype.
What kind of training did you have to go through to realistically play a cop?
It was pretty intense. What was disturbing was seeing pictures of dead bodies, even though you don’t see them in our show – that’s one of the great things about The Unusuals, it’s not about dead bodies, it’s about how things like that affect the characters.
Did you get any tips from real policemen?
I don’t know if this is specifically about New York cops or not – but in the first episode Adam Goldberg says ‘Freeze! Police!’ and they vetoed that right away. That’s a very ‘TV show’ thing. Nobody says that. So that was good to know.
Did they teach you how to shoot a gun for the show?
I used to go to a shooting range out in Los Angeles, so I was already pretty familiar with shooting.
There are and have been a lot of cop shows on TV. What do you think makes this one different?
This is an actual cop show, whereas most things on TV are not cop shows. A cop show is a show about cops, at least in my understanding of it, and I think we are the only show on TV that takes a dark, sarcastic, sardonic yet dramatic look at cops and how they solve cases – how what they go through leaks into their lives.
Is it different being one part of an ensemble instead of the lead of your own show?
The hours are the same, the work’s the same. It’s just great because you’re working with more people. As opposed to you being in the schoolyard with just the ball, you’re in the schoolyard with 50 kids and the ball.
Have you been a fan of any police shows yourself?
I was obsessed with The Wire. There were such great characters and they were so well developed. I think The Unusuals has some of those aspects.
The first season of The Unusuals is shown on Showseries every Saturday at 10pm.
Yet another cop show. What’s so ‘unusual’?
Detective Casey Shraeger (Amber Tamblyn) has just been transferred to the NYPD’s Homicide Unit from Vice and is thrown instantly into a spray of bullets and bodies. As she begins her new assignment, Casey finds that the force is full of secrets, which serves her well, since she’s keeping a few herself. She is assigned to investigate the death of one of the department’s own, the former partner of Detective Jason Walsh (Jeremy Renner), who is now her new partner (still with us?). As the duo seeks out the cop killer, the secrets and eccentricities of the rest of the department begin to emerge: Prank-magnet and social climber detective Eddie Alvarez (Kai Lennox) has no qualms about stealing cases, as long as he can turn them into front-page stories; partners Eric Delahoy (Adam Goldberg), who is constantly trying to get himself killed in the line of duty, and Leo Banks (Harold Perrineau), an overly cautious officer who refuses to remove his bullet-proof vest, are polar opposites. Then there’s the religious detective, Henry Cole (Josh Close), who tries to keep his shadowy past a secret from streetwise partner Allison Beaumont (Monique Gabriela Curnen). And finally Sgt Brown (Terry Kinney), who struggles to rid the second precinct of corruption.