Brooklyn Nine-Nine Star Andre Braugher Reflects on His Cop Roles amid Black Lives Matter Movement
"I’ve been inside this storytelling, and I, too, have fallen prey to the mythology that’s been built up,” Andre Braugher said
Well-known as the beloved Capt. Raymond Holt in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Andre Braugher is now reflecting on his roles as cops amid the Black Lives Matter Movement and the ongoing protests against police brutality.
Prior to joining the cast of the popular NBC sitcom that follows a group of NYPD detectives in Brooklyn's fictional 99th Precinct, Braugher also donned a badge as Det. Frank Pembleton on another NBC hit, Homicide: Life on the Street. In 1998, that role won him the Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a drama series.
“I look up after all these decades of playing these characters, and I say to myself, it’s been so pervasive that I’ve been inside this storytelling, and I, too, have fallen prey to the mythology that’s been built up,” Braugher, 58, recently told Variety.
"It’s almost like the air you breathe or the water that you swim in. It’s hard to see. But because there are so many cop shows on television, that’s where the public gets its information about the state of policing," he continued. "Cops breaking the law to quote, ‘defend the law,’ is a real terrible slippery slope. It has given license to the breaking of law everywhere, justified it and excused it. That’s something that we’re going to have to collectively address — all cop shows."
Braugher, who also received four Emmy nominations over the years for his performance as Capt. Holt, said Brooklyn Nine-Nine now has the important task of addressing police brutality in the coming season.
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine has to commit itself, as a comedy, to telling the story of how these things happen, and what’s possible to deal with them. I don’t have any easy answers, nor do I have a window into the mind bank of this writing staff,” he said. “Can you tell the same story? Can anyone in America maintain any kind of innocence about what police departments are capable of?”
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The actor also wondered how his character would handle the situation. “It might mean that Holt is a staunch defender of the NYPD, or that he tries to burn the whole thing down. I know that he is a pragmatic man; I do know that he’s a loving, [if] robotic person," he said. "I’m anxious to see what that’s all about, and I have no idea what Season 8 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine is going to be, because everything’s changed."
"It could be a really groundbreaking season that we’re all going to be very, very proud of, or we’re going to fall flat on our face… But I think this is a staff, a cast and a crew that’s willing to take it on and give it our best. I think we have a damn good chance to tell the kinds of stories that heretofore have only been seen on grittier shows," he added.
One of the show's creators, Dan Goor, confirmed to Variety that the Brooklyn Nine-Nine's writers are currently working on a storyline about police brutality for the coming season, adding, "We want to make sure we get it right."
In July, Andy Samberg, who plays Det. Jake Peralta and acts as a writer for the show, spoke to PEOPLE about how they plan to "move forward."
"We're taking a step back, and the writers are all rethinking how we're going to move forward, as well as the cast," Samberg, 42, said at the time. "We're all in touch and kind of discussing how you make a comedy show about police right now, and if we can find a way of doing that that we all feel morally okay about."
"I know that we'll figure it out, but it's definitely a challenge, so we'll see how it goes," he added.
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
• Campaign Zero works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
• ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
• National Cares Mentoring Movement provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.