He’s not young anymore, and he doesn’t have the same passion for the job he once did. Yet he still likes to get the upper hand whenever he can. That’s Detective Buddy Wilson for you, Grace’s colleague in the Oakland PD, whose motives we never quite understand – is he a good guy or is he a bad guy? Rogue insider Ira Parker caught up with Ian Hart to learn more about what it’s like to play Wilson and what he has in common with the character.
Ira Parker: How would you describe your character?
Ian Hart: It’s like any job. He’s been there too long. Just trying to bide his time until his pension kicks in. Maybe a couple of years ago, he could have had an opportunity to progress and get promoted but now he doesn’t give a shit. He’s an acceptor. He accepts the status quo. He’s not interested in busting some kid for weed. The only kind of things that get his attention are big, large-scale, clever Machiavellian kind of things. I think he has a kind of a respect for Jimmy. He sees him as a businessman, a clever businessman. The fact that he’s a criminal doesn’t really enter into it. They are reciprocal parts.
IP: How did you become involved with the show?
IH: I was in England at the time and Brian Kirk, who directed the first episode, asked me to come in for the audition. I read the script and the description in it that made Brian think of me was, “If Wilson was a building, he’d be condemned.” Flattering and probably accurate.
IP: Ha ha. How did you prepare for your role as Wilson?
IH: Well, he’s not a super cop. He’s not the dynamic TV cop that’s always getting out of cars and jumping across bonnets and pulling his gun out. He doesn’t get his gun out very often at all. So you start thinking about things. You start thinking about what he might be like and who he might be. I remember watching a documentary about a U.K. police force. They followed a group of detectives for a period of two years, and the only guy they ever caught was one of the cops because they’d been videoing. And I figured, if that happens in that situation, there’s no reason it’s not true in Oakland or anywhere else in the world. And that’s what I thought about. That was my motivation.
IP: What part of his personality do you think is the most like your own?
IH: He is lazy. Ha ha. No, he’s not lazy, it’s kind of one of those things. You reach an age where you just don’t have to try so hard. He doesn’t try very hard.
IP: Was he different in his younger years?
IH: I think that’s nature, whether you want it to be or not, you just are. There is an immediacy when you are young, you think every day is a brand new day, and you don’t have perspective. With me, I have a kid and my kid thinks that today is the only day that is ever going to exist. You don’t make forward thinking decisions when you are young. You make immediate decisions. He’s not thinking about his pension, which is 10 to 15 years away. He’s living in a kind of projective version of reality.
IP: What kind of songs do you think we’d find on Wilson’s playlist?
IH: Well sadly, America as a nation embraced rock music more than any nation on the Earth, except perhaps the Norwegians or the Germans – they like that shit as well. And Wilson’s driving a Pontiac Trans Am, I can do the math, he’s got to have all that bullshit ACDC and all that nasty, nasty shit. But I think also, there’s a softer side to him. You are probably going to hear some jazz, some light classical tunes. He’s probably tuned into classic FM or whatever.
IP: What was your favorite scene of the season?
IH: The first scene. The first scene I did was just chasing Grace out of a car and I’m trying to handcuff her. I liked it because on the first day you’re trying to figure out what this is all about. You’re trying to figure out what the dynamic is and how is Wilson going to look and how is he going to feel with the nature of the show. And the way they shot that, the way they did everything about it, was great. It was exciting. I think that Keiran (DP), Brian, and everyone did a great job. Ever since then I’ve just sat on my big fat ass and gotten bigger and fatter, at least then I was doing something.
IP: Best and worst part about being on set?
IH: Best part, the people. The crew is being delightful. Everybody, makeup, hair, props, camera department, everybody has been delightful. It’s a great group of people. That’s the best.
The worst has been that they put mayonnaise on every sandwich. And I’ve been asking for three and a half months now, can they make one without mayonnaise. And it’s just never happened. But they are nice people, the catering people. But when I was a kid, back in the olden days, you had to ask for mayonnaise. It wasn’t just compulsory. Now, the first thing they do is put mayonnaise on the bread.
IP: Do you think there is a happily-ever-after for Wilson and his prostitute girlfriend, Kim?
IH: I don’t see why not. He doesn’t make judgments. She’s a prostitute. As an adult with a socially aware make up, he knows there’s a criminality involved in the subjugation of woman – that sociologically woman are being subjugated and oppressed and all those things, but he seems to remove himself from that judgment. She’s just a girl. For him, the morality is not an issue. If he were against prostitution, he wouldn’t be going to prostitutes. But I don’t think he’s immoral, I just don’t think that he’s puritanical. And I don’t see any reason why those two shouldn’t be together. You do get a sense that he cares about her and I don’t imagine there were many people in her life that care about her. So I could see that working.
IP: Have you ever had a relationship that jeopardized your job?
IH: This job? Impossible to jeopardize. I mean you might not get the next job. They might hold shit against you from conversations you may have had with producers in the past, and then all of a sudden you find yourself out of work for six years. But they won’t fire your ass because basically there is money involved.
IH: They don’t care about nothing else, we all know that. You can behave like a complete dickwad. As long as they’ve shot at least two episodes, you’re going to be there until the very end. Cynical but true.
IP: Wilson can sometimes be a pretty depraved character, what do you think his childhood was like? What do you think his parents were like?
IH: Just regular folks, regular Joes. There’s a belief that there is a direct correlation between childhood events and what it produces in the adult that I find difficult to be simplistic about, because everybody reacts differently. Some people suppress some things that some people would not suppress. So how much one’s childhood is a predicative element of one’s adulthood, it’s debatable. But I think Wilson grew up and had regular parents. I don’t think he’s attracted to the dark side, I think he became a cop because he had a genuine interest in it. He wanted to be a detective. He likes the detective aspect of it, he loves all that stuff. It’s a game like anything else. He likes the puzzles.
IP: Wilson seems to have become Rogue’s comic relief. Any favorite lines from the season?
IH: Ha ha. I don’t have a tremendous capacity. I don’t remember anything at all. It’s how I survive.
IP: Once it’s delivered it’s gone?
IH: It’s gone. No repercussions, no fretting over it, no going, “Oh I should have said this, I should have said that.” No. It’s too late now.
IP: What’s a question you always wish people would ask you, but they never do?
IH: “Why can’t you get a better job? You little shit.”
IP: Ha ha. And what’s the answer?
IH: That’s the question I ask myself daily and I don’t have the answer yet.
IP: If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
IH: Something simpler. Something like a lumberjack. That’s what I wanted to be when I was a young man. Although, I’m getting old now, so I’d probably be dead.
IP: Or at least a few fingers short.
IH: I’d be losing bits and pieces and probably have one arm longer than the other and shit. Maybe Forestry. Work for the Forestry Commission and be a Park Ranger. That would be a nice job. Simple life.