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Dylan McDermott on Dark Blue

On TNT’s Dark Blue, which returns tonight for its second season, Dylan McDermott plays Carter Shaw, an artfully disheveled police officer who runs an undercover unit for the LAPD. McDermott, who became famous for his tenure on The Practice, is a no-nonsense kind of guy, and so it makes sense that his roles are generally smoldering, serious men of the law. We spoke to the actor recently about what it’s like to be on another successful TV show, how he’s glad he doesn’t look old, and his foray into the world of comedy.

So what’s going to be different about this season of Dark Blue?
We looked back on the first season and thought, Okay, what works, what doesn’t work, and we decided to make the show a little lighter in tone, with more humor. And the big addition was Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica), who plays my love interest and new boss. It’s just more interesting when you have police work mixed with personal relationships.

Did you think the first season was too dark?
I mean, the show is dark, it’s a gritty crime drama and it always will be that. But we just looked at it and thought, How do we make it better? I’m relieved, I think we found our voice — sometimes a show doesn’t find its voice completely, and then it’s pulled and you never have that chance.

You’ve been on a lot of TV shows, some successful, some canceled quickly. When do you feel like it’s okay to get attached to a show?
It’s like anything — as a baseball player, you’re not going to win every game, you’re not going to hit a home run every time you’re at bat. You have a batting average and hopefully it’s around, well, for a national leaguer, 275, you know? That means that eight times out of ten, you’re not doing so great. As an actor, you try to do the best projects you can, and sometimes they work out, and sometimes they don’t.

Are you optimistic about Dark Blue?
With [producer] Jerry Bruckheimer, you know you have a better chance than with just a regular Joe Schmo producer. That’s No. 1. And I liked the concept — you can play a character within a character, and not be bored by it. I liked Wiseguy, Baretta, Donnie Brasco — I like the undercover world.

You were on The Practice for a long time. Did you ever get bored?
Yeah, seven seasons. I did, like, 154 episodes or something. That’s a lot of time to be one character, you know?

I’m kind of shocked that you’re 48. I thought you were 35ish.
Nice, I love that! Actually, I was just up for a movie that I got, and the director was like, “No, no, he’s 48, that won’t work.” But the casting director was like, “No, he’s not 48, take a look!” And so the director was like, “Oh, yeah, he’s not 48, but he is 48. But he’s not.”

But you are.
I’m lucky that I have good genes and I’ve always taken care of myself. One day I’m going to wake up and be old.

Have you ever done comedy? I’m sorry, but I can’t picture you being funny.
I do have a great sense of humor, and no one gets to see it! And so I’m actually doing something on Funny or Die; I decided to create this character for them and they loved it. I can’t tell you about it yet, but it’s coming out soon.

Dylan McDermott on Dark Blue