The first season of “S.W.A.T.” is coming to an action-packed ending. Jay Harrington, who plays 10-year SWAT Team veteran Deacon, spoke to CBS Local about the mounting tension between his character and Hondo [Shemar Moore], the physical demands of playing a SWAT officer, and the writers’ attempts to make the audience connect emotionally with the characters on the show. The show airs tonight, with the season finale airing next Thursday, May 17.
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What can we expect on tonight’s episode of SWAT? We know there’s some tension between Hondo and Deacon.
There always is! You know, he took my [Deacon’s] job. I got shot under his watch. He didn’t tell me my wife was in a coma. What is great is that we’ve tracked all of that. It comes to a head when the proverbial s*** hits the fan and we’re stuck unmanned and out-gunned. So it was a really great opportunity for he and I. We got to have so much fun playing like kids in the woods, running around. But at the same time, we got to really address the stuff that’s been there all season long.
Obviously, S.W.A.T. requires a lot of physical performances. Walk us through what those physical shoots days are like.
This has been such a fun role. A big part of it has been being ready to go and in shape, not just for the sake of feeling good but also to make sure you don’t get injured. Our first day, we get up there and start shooting early in the day, a couple hours out of LA. Our first day, we started 8,000 feet. One of our stunt guys is a stunt double for Shemar, he played in the NFL, he was like, “Yeah, this is like playing in Denver.” Breath’s a little shorter. We’re working on a 30 to 40 degree incline. The crew, everyone, just really stepped up. You’re going to see these beautiful shots and these really cool things going on, but you have to imagine the A, B and C camera operators and the boom operators standing with one foot on a rock and the other in the dirt. It’s really a huge group effort. When I first read the script, I couldn’t believe how big it was going to be. Then doing it, Shemar and I had a ball. I saw some of it the other day and I’m really excited how it turned out.
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Can you tell us about some of the training the cast goes through in preparation for the show?
We have a technical adviser with us always. Before we started, we went through a bunch of hours of tactical training and weapon training. That really came in handy, especially when we’re dealing with stunts and semi-automatic weapons. We all worked hard to bring the reality of what these guys do to the screen. I don’t care if 50 people watch — if one of them is a SWAT officer and looks at it and says, “That’s not how you do this, that’s not how you do that,” then we didn’t do our job right. Any time we do a tactical scene, it’s pretty much right by the book. I got a friend from back east who’s an alcohol, tobacco, and firearms officer and he’s like, “You guys do it right.” So that means a lot.
What can we expect on the finale next week?
Lots of different stories have been told with our characters. We have Street and the situation with his mother, that’s going to come to a head. But we want to give viewers a reason to come back, based on how they feel about us, not necessarily what we do. In the last two episodes coming down the stretch, the writing staff is trying to get people to care about the characters. Not every show has to have a cliffhanger, although it may. We want viewers to say, “I have to see what happens to these characters.”
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“S.W.A.T.” airs Thursday nights on CBS at 10/9c. The season finale airs next Thursday, May 17.