INTERVIEW: As cop boss, Douglas builds ‘Bridge’

As cop boss, Douglas builds ‘Bridge’
By: Bill Burke
Date: July 10th, 2010
Source: Boston Herald


LIONHEARTED: Aaron Douglas is union leader Frank Leo.

Aaron Douglas is getting a taste of what it’s like to be The Man. 

As Toronto police union boss Frank Leo on CBS’ “The Bridge” (series premiere tonight at 8 on WBZ, Ch. 4), Douglas is stepping up from his former role as Chief Galen Tyrol on Syfy’s “Battlestar Galactica.” 

“Now I know what it feels like to be James Gandolfini or Kiefer Sutherland,” Douglas told the Herald during a recent telephone interview from Toronto. “The guy who has to work every single day in every scene. It’s a big difference in workload for me.” 

In this TV series imported from Canada, Douglas plays a cop elected as the new union boss to lead 8,000 fellow officers. He comes up against street criminals, his bosses and corruption from within the ranks. 

“I like that he’s a real guy,” Douglas said. “I like that he’s honest and he tells it like it is. He doesn’t pull punches, he’s a real person. I love the fact that he has flaws. As an actor, the most interesting thing to do is play a character that’s flawed and does the best he can with the tools he has. He owns up and says he’s sorry.” 

Douglas’ cop-show viewing while growing up in Vancouver consisted of the 1980s spoof “Police Squad” and “Magnum, P.I.” – the latter primarily because his mother had an eye for Tom Selleck. 

Leo, he said, wouldn’t fit in on either of those shows. 

“Not everybody is going to like him,” he said. “But some people are really going to like him.” 

The 38-year-old spent four seasons as Tyrol on “Galactica.” During that show’s run, he was part of an ensemble, sharing the load. Now – not so much. 

“I remember the day before we started shooting (‘The Bridge’) pilot, I phoned (‘Galactica’ star) Edward James Almos and said, ‘Eddie, what do I do?’ And he said, ‘Be yourself.’ I thought that was nice advice.” 

In his higher-profile role, Douglas said he has the responsibility to dictate the tone of the set. 

“How you go, so goes the day,” he said. “If you’re grumpy and stomping around, the set gets tense and weird. If you’re light, everyone gets to lighten up. If someone is getting snippy, it’s your prerogative, your responsibility to take them aside and say, ‘Knock it off.'” 

“The Bridge” has already aired its first season on CTV in Canada and has been renewed for a second season there. At this point, Douglas is waiting to see what CBS has in mind for the show. 

He has traveled to many of the “Galactica” conventions around the United States. 

“The great thing about ‘Battlestar’ is that it gets you in the room and gets the conversation going with potential employers,” Douglas said. “Everywhere I go, producers love that show. They bring me in the room so they can meet me. They’ll say, ‘I love the Chief (Tyrol), man. You’re not right for anything in this movie, but I just wanted to meet you.'”