Category: Archive

Acting with

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Joining the Major Case Squad this fall are doomed “Sopranos” goomada Annabella Sciorra, who will play brilliant criminal profiler Carolyn Barek, and “Sex and the City” hunk Chris Noth, who will again portray Mike Logan, the detective he played for five years on the franchise’s flagship show, “Law & Order.”
The partners will be sharing a caseload with long-time “CI” detectives Alexandra Eames and Robert Goren, played by Kathryn Erbe and Vincent D’Onofrio respectively. The decision to split the 22-episode season between two teams came after D’Onofrio, an intense actor who frequently moonlights in quirky, independent films like this month’s “Thumbsucker,” was hospitalized last year for exhaustion.
Politely declining to dish about the acclaimed, but reportedly moody actor, the 54-year-old Sheridan focused on the positive in a phone interview Sunday with the Irish Echo.
“It opens up variables,” he said of the new additions to the cast. “They’ve written a different relationship with Chris and I. You might call it the Irish Mafia within the police department, which is kind of interesting and they’ve set it up where I’ve sort of put myself on the line to get him in. So, that’s an interesting turn — that they took that risk with Deakins.”
While offering only a “no comment” when asked about working with D’Onofrio, the Australian-American actor who has roots in County Tipperary, seemed much happier to talk about Sciorra, the actress with whom he co-starred in the 1992 psychological thriller, “Whispers in the Dark.”
“We get along pretty well,” Sheridan said. “I like her a lot. I like her character. Her character talks to herself. Well, the first two episodes they had that. I would only read it in the script because I wouldn’t be in any of the scenes when she would be doing that. Part of her process on a crime scene would be she’d kind of talk to herself and I thought that was kind of interesting. She brings a really different sensibility to the cast of detectives, so I’m enjoying her a lot.”
Best-known for his roles in the TV shows “Shannon’s Deal” and “Chicago Hope,” Sheridan also played the lead villain in the miniseries “The Stand” and had memorable parts in the films “All I Want For Christmas,” “Quick Change,” “Life As a House” and “Cradle Will Rock.” The veteran of countless stage productions, Sheridan was also nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons.”
Although the actor confided he was initially attracted to his job on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” because it offered him a steady paycheck, he said he also likes the fact that he can act in films and on stage when the show is on hiatus.
“I’m able to do other things, that’s the key,” he explained. “It’s nice to have that stability, but you have to watch out for stability eating you up. It can take everything you have after a while. So, you have to be careful and you have to keep working at other things.”

Acting with Clooney
One thing Sheridan was able to work at while on break from “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” was a supporting role in George Clooney’s new film, “Syriana,” due out in theaters this winter.
“It’s a small part,” the actor noted. “I don’t know how much of it is going to be left in the film. I had a wonderful day working with George. I play the head of the CIA, but I have great hopes for the movie. It’s the only script I read that is dealing with our situation in the Middle East on any honest basis, so I’m very excited for it and I think Stephen Gaghan wrote something very important and I hope people get to see it.”
Always eager to mix things up, Sheridan said he would also like to return to the theater some time soon, although he has no immediate plans to do so.
“I was working on ‘A Touch of the Poet’ real hard, for basically this whole series, but somebody beat me to it, so now it’s going to be on Broadway this year,” he revealed, referring to a planned Roundabout Theatre Company revival of the Eugene O’Neill play, starring Gabriel Byrne.
“That’s life. So, I don’t know what’s next in theater. I’ll certainly be back on stage again, hopefully, in New York, but I don’t know what it’ll be.”
Of course, anyone who has glanced at a Playbill in the last decade has probably noticed how many theater actors turn up on at least one of the three “Law & Order” shows. That doesn’t mean, however, that Sheridan gets to hang out with the visiting thespians, as much as he would like to.
“From all my years in theater, I know a lot of the New York actors who come on in the guest star roles,” he noted. “But I never act with any of them, so I get a lot of notes, saying: ‘Jamey, I was here. Where were you?’ It’s not really very social. My part is pretty much isolated with my detectives. They deal with the guest stars, I don’t.”
Even if he doesn’t get to work with a lot of different actors on a regular basis, Sheridan said the job does offer him the chance to explore and develop his character over an extended period of time.
“It’s a small role, so there is not a lot of stuff to do with it, but I like tuning it up all the time,” he confided. “The character is pretty much in service to the plot. There are a lot of secrets; those are fun. Secrets developing and, basically, I’m getting one piece of personal information a season, but that will expand in my imagination and it gives me a little more to be thinking about while I’m doing the similar things I usually do.”
Although Sheridan said he and the other actors are encouraged to offer their input on scripts and storylines, he pointed out the show is more driven by plot than character, meaning more attention is spent on the crimes and those who commit them than on the personal lives and ambitions of the cops working the cases.
“It’s clear the story is the main character and that’s OK,” he observed. “That’s fine if you’re going to make a show every week, 22 weeks a year. I would think that if I were doing a show about my character’s personality, it would run out of options in about 10 weeks, so it’s probably smart to have a show that’s about cases and not about personalities or the personal events of an individual’s life. So, what you’re following is the personal lives of different people every week, as they are dealt with by a set of cops. I don’t want to know that much about me. I don’t want to give that much away about my character. I like keeping it a secret.”

Character trait
Asked what he thinks of producer Rene Balcer’s description of Deakins as the “calm at the center of the storm,” Sheridan replied, “That’s a reasonable thing to say.”
“He strives to be that way,” the actor said of his character. “He’s a protector by instinct. He’s a protector of others by instinct and I think that’s how he got to where he is – he keeps people alive. He doesn’t like to put people at risk.”
In addition to playing the stalwart police captain, Sheridan is always on the lookout for interesting roles to play in his down time. Fortunately, he said, his compulsion to avoid repeating himself has meant Hollywood hasn’t been able to pigeon-hole him as an actor who excels in only one type of part.
“I guess my choices have paid off to a certain extent,” he said. “I get offers or meetings across the spectrum — gay, straight, western, tough guy, crazy guy. I’m not really disappointed in the range of roles I get asked to essay. Usually, the more important factor is popularity, whether they can use you. You get a lot of ‘great actor, but we need a bigger star,’ but that’s just business. Range has always been my goal and I can never get the range wide enough. I always want to go even further afield. But I’m pretty happy with the things that come my way.”
The season premiere of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” is set to air Sept. 25 on NBC.

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