Photo by Andrew Eccles
Chesterfield County's own Corey Reynolds ends a seven-season run as Sgt. David Gabriel on The Closer on Aug. 13, when the TNT hit starring Kyra Sedgwick as murder investigator extraordinaire Brenda Johnson airs its series finale.
What will you miss most about the show?
Obviously I miss the people. You work with a group that long, for seven years, and you really become a family.
Did you ever pilfer from Brenda's secret stash of junk food?
Occasionally, because you need a snack. But here's the thing: We had craft services, and if there's something that you want, and they don't have it, they'll make an effort to get it. But it is nice to have it right there.
The drawer in my desk was full of gummi bears, gummi Life Savers, anything gummi basically, Sour Patch Kids. The makeup department would throw them in there for me, and props. Those are the people I miss. [Laughs.]
Candy makes everything better — until about two hours later when everybody's crashing from the sugar high. Then candy makes things terrible.
Did you get emotional as filming wrapped up?
There's a scene with Kyra and I in her office that was one of our final scenes together, and God bless her, because when the cameras were over my shoulder shooting her, I was a blubbering mess. [Laughs.] I was just taking in the gravity of the moment, how many times we've sat in her office and hashed things out as characters, and also seeing the mentoring aspect of their relationship come to a visual close. That relationship is mirrored very much in actuality. Kyra and I were very close, and she became a very good friend over those years, and I learned a lot from her. It was my first television experience, so having someone of her caliber, and the rest of the cast as well, to learn from was really a gift.
I assume you've had a wrap party by this point?
We had a few of those. [Laughs.] It never seems to be just one.
Do you think fans are going to be happy with the finale?
I think so, but I don't think you can necessarily go into it with the idea of pleasing everyone. I think [show creator] James Duff has done a really great job over the years guiding these characters. I'm not sure if any of us know them quite as well as he does, and I think he's done a masterful job at creating a finale here and leading to the encore that is the spinoff.
Why did you decide not to sign up for the spinoff, Major Crimes?
I didn't move out to Los Angeles to be on The Closer. It was a wonderful experience, and it kind of was my boot camp for the Hollywood experience, similar to what Hairspray was for me for the New York experience. You do anything long enough, and you start thinking about doing other things. As you grow and mature, sometimes your aspirations begin to change as well. I'm still very passionate about acting, but my real passion has really been developing for a few years now in the creative phase — writing and developing and being a show creator. So I needed to take a little time to decide exactly what I wanted to do. And I was offered a holding deal, which I'm still currently under, from NBC. It wasn't an easy decision, and it actually took me months to come to a final decision.
It's hard to walk away from something that still feels right, but comfort is the enemy of progress. I felt that I had become comfortable where I was, and sometimes you've got to change things up and decide it's time to do something different.
Is anything in the works with NBC yet?
I'm going to bring them something that I think might be right for me, which is a show that I created myself.
You've already pitched a few shows, right?
I've been pretty active. I've always been a storyteller at my core, and for whatever reason, that was expressed through performance for a long time, whether on a stage, on a screen in front of a camera or with a microphone, it was always something that I really enjoyed doing.
I realized that as an actor, you only have but so much influence over the creative process. I wanted to have more of an influence. I think I've got some good ideas that I'm really happy with. I've got three pitch meetings coming up in the next two weeks for television shows.
How much money would NBC need to get you to do a guest spot as Sgt. Gabriel on Law and Order: SVU?
I have no idea. Those are decisions best left to people far more powerful than I.
Are you still shopping your screenplay for Triple Nickels, about the United States' first African-American paratrooper unit?
That's a tough one. The feature realm is a beast, and when you're talking about historical material, it has to be a passion project for someone of greater ability than my own currently. Red Tails [the George Lucas-produced 2012 film about the Tuskegee Airmen] coming out and achieving some success has helped that process, but that's a big project. Once I can pull about 50 or 60 million dollars together, I'll jump right on that. [Laughs.] In the meantime, I'm still shopping it. A great story never dies. Sometimes it goes on the shelf for a while, but it never dies.
Given that you're a comic-book fan, are there any superhero roles you're hoping to land?
One of the shows I'm working on is an unveiling of a somewhat new hero, but it's actually not for me to act in. It's one of those things that I'm looking to create and develop for some other hotshot young guy. But yeah, that's part of what I'm working on. You stick to what you know and what you're passionate about. For me, Nickels was and remains something that I'm very passionate about, and then there's the superhero world, a world that I live in every day by playing DC Universe Online.
Oh, yeah, man. I'm an avid gamer.
What's your hero's name?
I can't tell you that, dude! [Laughs.] I actually made that mistake. I had never played an MMO before. Most of the games I played were on Xbox, and you play Call of Duty on there, and you're in a group for like three minutes, and then you switch to another group, so you don't actually develop relationships with people playing the game. I made the mistake of unveiling to someone, who I thought was kind of cool, who I was and what I did, and it didn't go well. I ended up having to change my character's name.
Wait, as many comic books as you've read, you didn't know that you —
Never reveal your secret identity! Trust me, dude, I replay that over and over in my head. [Laughs.] I have a new secret identity now, so I'll keep that to myself.
How does your wife feel about the online gaming?
She's got a character. She doesn't play as often as I do, actually she hasn't played in a while, but she has a villain. She went to the dark side. All my guys are heroes.
Have you guys ever tangled, hero and villain?
No, because you can't play simultaneously. You have to have two PlayStations to do that, and she's not quite that committed. [Laughs.] She wouldn't want to go against my characters anyway. That'd be a bad idea. My guys are pretty vicious.
Having had your big break on Broadway in Hairspray, do you ever think about a return to musical theater?
I've got this idea that I want to develop a show around Marvin Gaye, a biography of his life experience through his music. He's one of my idols.
There's something instantly gratifying about a live audience. When you do something funny in front of a live audience, you get a laugh. When you do something funny in front of a camera, if no one is supposed to laugh, then no one can laugh. You just have to trust that the director sees something funny.
This year you got your second nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series at the NAACP Image Awards, but you lost out to James Pickens Jr., who plays a surgeon on Grey's Anatomy —
Who's super awesome, by the way. I've hung out with him, and he is a really good guy, as well being absolutely deserving for his talent.
And it's very nice of you to say that, but let's get down to business. Do you by any chance perform a life-saving tracheotomy on somebody in the last six episodes of The Closer, something to push you over the top at the Image Awards in 2013?
I wish. If I could have done the ink-pen trach or the traffic-jam childbirth, I think those would have been the two things that would've pushed it over the edge. But I'm sorry to say, neither of those two things happened beyond my imagination.
That's too bad.
Yeah. It would've been pretty boss.
I have to ask you about your dogs, Gizmo and Norman.
We actually have a third now, a cocker spaniel mix named Obie. We actually found Obie at a gas station in San Pedro. He was really sick and filthy, and we brought him home. And let me tell you, cocker spaniels are a little nutty. The thing about dogs is, you figure them out and they figure you out, and then you just learn to coexist. I feel like I've figured Obie out, but he changes his configuration randomly. He's an odd dog. He really is.
What weird stuff does he do?
He licks the legs of the coffee table, and he'll just lie there by the sliding glass door and lick the glass. I don't know if he likes it or what about it is really exciting for him. He also has this howl that he does. Everyone in the house, my wife and I and the other two dogs, will be sitting and watching a movie, and everything's quiet, and then all of a sudden for no reason, he'll look at us and just, "AAAOOOOOOWW!" He's not really concerned about your convenience.
That sounds like some of the dogs in my house.
How many do you have?
We have three, and if you'd talked to me before you got the third, I would have said, "I don't know, man."
[Laughs.] The first two took us to heaven, the third one brought us firmly back to reality.
I love our third dog, but she's a loony bird.
I love Obie, too, but if there were a way to go back in time, I might've gone to Exxon instead of Chevron, you know what I mean? [Laughs.]