A chat with Delroy Lindo, Delroy Lindo interview, The Chicago Code, Shawn Ryan
Delroy Lindo

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Shawn Ryan has a solid history with the folks at 20th Century Fox and the police genre, having been responsible for creating FX’s “The Shield.” This time, he’s bringing his gritty sensibilities on the subject to Fox with his new series, “The Chicago Code.” Bullz-Eye had a chance to chat briefly with one of the stars of the show, Delroy Lindo, during the 2011 Winter TCA Tour, and got the scoop on his character.

Delroy Lindo: Go ahead, Will, do your thing!

Bullz-Eye: (Laughs) Okay, well, first of all, I’d be remiss if I didn’t start by telling you that I was a huge fan of “Kidnapped.”

DL: Oh, are you? Okay!

BE: So how did you come aboard “The Chicago Code”?

On "The Chicago Code" breaking the police-procedural mode: "I heard an interesting program on the radio maybe three days ago in which they were speaking about the fact that the more interesting new television shows seem to be the ones that don’t follow the formula. Now, whether or not those shows get audiences is, I guess, another matter."

DL: The same way. You get a call, and…well, actually, what happened was that I got a call from my reps, and they said, “They’re interested in you for this show.” And they sent the script, and I read it, and I said, “Yes, I’m interested.” And Shawn Ryan, the creator, and I spoke, and very soon thereafter it was done. It was done very quickly.

BE: So how many episodes have you guys filmed thus far? I think we’ve gotten the first three.

DL: We’ve finished the full season. We did 13, and I did 11 of the 13.

BE: How serialized is the series, as opposed to being mostly self-contained from week to week?

DL: This is a little bit of both, I guess you’d say. Thematically, it follows the same trail, but it’s episodic, because each week is a different story.

BE: Can you tell me a little bit about your character?

DL: I play a Chicago alderman, a very experienced and therefore influential alderman, and the characters that Jennifer Beals and Jason Clarke play set about investigating some of my activities because they think there’s something untoward about what I’m doing. The basic premise has to do with them investigating things that they think I’ve been involved with, and that’s kind of the jumping-off point for the show.

BE: It seems that the time is right for network police shows that aren’t quite as…basic. For instance, “Blue Bloods” is exploring a bit of different territory. Have the networks finally decided that it’s time to step outside the box?

Delroy LindoDL: I don’t know, because I don’t watch television. (Laughs) But, you know, I heard an interesting program on the radio maybe three days ago in which they were speaking about the fact that the more interesting new television shows seem to be the ones that don’t follow the formula. Now, whether or not those shows get audiences is, I guess, another matter, but certainly from a creative standpoint…they were speaking about what a breath of fresh air it was that these shows were coming along and not following the formula. So from that to your point, they’re at least the shows that stand out.

(At this point, a waitress interrupts us just long enough to ask if we’d like a drink. Lindo requests a large glass of orange juice with no ice. This is in no way apropos to anything within the rest of the conversation. It just struck me as cool.)

BE: Given Shawn Ryan’s reputation, do you feel like “The Chicago Code” stands out from other police dramas?

DL: Well, I’d like to think so, but, again, because I don’t know what else is out there, it’s hard for me to answer that.

BE: Does it at least feel relatively layered to you?

DL: Yes. Certainly, my arc or storyline or whatever, I hope it’s layered. We tried really hard to make it as multifaceted as possible, and I think…you know, one of the things for me that was very, very liberating – and I said this to some of your other colleagues earlier – is that I didn’t have to carry the responsibility of the procedural aspect of this show. With regards to the procedural aspects, which is carried more by Jason and Jennifer, what I can tell you is that they’re both very fine actors and serious about what they do. And not just Jason and Jennifer. There was Matt (Lauria) and Devin (Kelley) and Todd (Williams) and…I’m forgetting somebody. (Laughs) Billy Lush! And they’re all very fine actors, and I can’t imagine that what they were doing was anything less than layered and complicated, because they’re all good actors.

BE: Last one: do you have a favorite project that you’ve worked on over the years that didn’t get the love it deserved?

DL: A few of them. “Crooklyn” is a film that I’ve very proud of. “Clockers.” Both those films, I think, are really good films. “Malcolm X,” for that matter. They’re all really good films, films that I’m very proud of, but for whatever reason they didn’t do as well at the box office. But what’s interesting about all three of those films is that they’ve all proven that they have longevity. People still talk to me about those films more than 10 years after I made them. 

BE: Do you have a favorite anecdote from working with Spike Lee?

DL: Nah. (Laughs) But hopefully we’ll work together again at some point!

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