The Thin Blue Line Interview
UNPLUGGED: Hello everyone. This is Phillip Bufford with Unplugged Magazine and I am here with the actors from “The Thin Blue Line.” To the right of me is Mardel Hawkins, Jared Nobel, Zayne Richard Simpson, and Fred Wheeler, the producer of the show. So let’s get right to it. “The Thin Blue Line”. What is this show about?
Fred: It is a look at not just the cases the detectives of a midwest city are
going through. It is also a look at how their work impacts their family lives
UNPLUGGED: Zayne, what is your role in the show?
Zayne: I am one of the lead actors. I play detective Michael. I am also one
of the directors.
UNPLUGGED: What did you have to do to get yourself ready to play the
detective for this show?
Zayne: I originally wrote this as a paper for the film emphasis class at The Ohio Media School. It was supposed to be a little short film but I thought it could be something bigger. Something longer. We turned it from a short, into a TV series. Now it is becoming 13 episodes for the first season. I wrote the plot from me and Jared’s experience in the military. We worked with law enforcement in fugitive recovery and ICE cases, we helped the police. I really based it off of our experience as partners going out and dealing with the things we dealt with. That is why I wrote that little short. I developed the characters’ attitudes from our attitudes towards each other. Both as friends and partners. I tend to mess around more than Jared. Jared has to tell me “Dude, stop.” It is our back and forth as we did our jobs that is reflected in the script. It developed off a real life scenario. As we started to bring in other characters, everything just fell in place. For me it’s easy to fall into these roles. They were based off of us.
UNPLUGGED: Jared, you have a natural chemistry with Zayne. You are a template for these characters. What did you go through when you were acting for this show?
Jared: When Zayne first sent me the script, it was supposed to be a movie. Then it slowly became a tv show. When I read the script, I immediately fell in love with both of the characters. He pulled it from our real-life experiences. On set it was a lot of off script acting. We’ve been friends for years so our back and forth came naturally. We just fit the roles. It made everyday fun, Filming was fun. It just made every day easy to fall into character.
UNPLUGGED: What character do you play?
Jared: I play detective Jared Garcia. He is a no nonsense, matter of fact, get the job done type of detective. I love the character because while Michael Green is off doing his own thing, Jared is always in the case.
UNPLUGGED: So he is always married to the case.
Jared: Yeah, he is.
UNPLUGGED: What is Mike’s texture to responding to a case verses your
Jared: Mike is always going to keep a situation as light as he can. While Jared is very to the point. Mike will tiptoeing around things, Jared says “Let’s get this done.” They butt heads, but they get along. It’s an adventure for them in every situation and scene.
UNPLUGGED: Mardel. Who are you in this show?
Mardel: I play detective Thomas Huges. When I first got on board, I went to Fred and asked him how he wanted me to play the character. He gave me free rein about it. Thomas has been up to my own development honestly. He is the mediator between Mike and Jared. He keeps them balanced out.
UNPLUGGED: Do you have any previous experience in law enforcement?
Mardel: I do not.
UNPLUGGED: How did you prepare to play a detective? Particularly as a black man playing a detective!
Mardel: I watched other shows and saw how the role plays out.
UNPLUGGED: Fred, what magic did you have to do to bring these personalities together and make this story come alive?
Fred: Zayne was writing the paper for his film emphasis class here at The Ohio Media School. He brought the paper to me and said, “Hey do you think I could turn this into a television script or a movie?” I said “We’ll, we’re going to find out! It took me two months. It was the longest thing to this day that I have ever written since college. I was happy with it. Then like a lot of writers you get less happy with it and change things. The script evolved right up until we shot the scenes.
Jared: It did! Right up until we called action. Zayne would change his lines. That’s what kept it so alive. Like what Mardel said, my character Garcia is on the opposite sides of the personality scales. Mardel’s character really keeps them balanced. We all put parts of us into each character to make it flow. Everything seemed so natural between us three. You know what I mean? It just worked.
UNPLUGGED: With them going off script, did it drive you crazy?
Fred: It didn’t drive me crazy at all. One thing I continually told people was to make the characters they played their own. It wasn’t just the main characters I said that too. It was everyone who had a role in the show. Some of the best scenes in Hollywood were adlib. Like in “Indiana Jones, Raiders of The Lost Ark”. He was in a bazaar and was supposed to have this big sword fight with a guy and instead he just shoots him. He had been sick or whatever for the last week and wanted to get the scene done. He didn’t want to do a 15-minute sword fight. So he shot the guy.
UNPLUGGED: That works. Zayne you are a personality on and off the camera. How much do you think your off camera personality influenced the show and your costars?
Zayne: I feed off of the character and Jared. The way he presents a situation. When I am Mike, I am not being my natural self. It’s natural to feed off of the way Jared is delivering his lines. I go with the natural reaction to the way Jared is delivering his character. I would say it is difficult because there is so much going on. I have to get things done the way I need them to be, but I also need to be in character. I have to perform and think about the way things look on the other side of the camera. It is a challenge because I am two different people depending on what side of the camera I am standing on.
UNPLUGGED: How challenging is it to balance the fact that you are one of the writers, you are actors? When you write something that looks great on paper but doesn’t seem right on camera. How do you balance when to change the script, or not change it?
Zayne: What I have found at a table read is no one is acting. The script sounds good because you read it like how it’s written on paper. Then when you go to deliver the lines on camera, you see how quickly the script works or doesn’t work. If there is too much stuff and not enough time, it doesn’t sound natural. You don’t want it to sound like a robot. You sound like that because you are trying to remember your lines! If you put your own twist on it while saying the same thing. The dialogue will be more natural. We did a lot of that because we didn’t do any rehearsing. We didn’t have time.
Jared: I was waiting to cut in so bad. Zayne’s biggest problem was remembering what he said from take one to take ten. He will come on set with food in his mouth and a script in hand. I ask him if he is ready to go. He says, “I’ve got it!” And wings it as he goes. He performed great! It was just the whole atmosphere that made everything so fun!
UNPLUGGED: Mardel, you are the balance between Jared and Mike. How do you balance that role? How does he balance someone so invested in the case with someone so off script at any given moment?
Mardel: It’s not easy. I will tell you that. I am naturally laid back so I have to pick and choose when to joke. When to be serious. When I should lean one way or the other. I just read the situation.
UNPLUGGED: I have to ask, who gets the girl?
Jared: Me obviously.
UNPLUGGED: Really can’t detective Garcia get the girl? It sounds like he’s married to every case.
Jared: In all honesty, Mike is the one more interested in relationships.
UNPLUGGED: Is that because he wrote it?
Fred: Actually, that’s my fault. Mike Green is somebody who likes the prestige of being a detective. He uses it to advantage with the ladies. Not in a creepy way. I just realized how I said that. He is a good-looking guy who knows it. Plus, the badge carries a certain impression with ladies. He takes advantage of that impression. Jared’s character is concentrated on repairing his relationship with his ex-wife.
UNPLUGGED: How much of the characters personal life comes out in “The Thin Blue Line?” as they are working on cases? How does their personal lives impact their ability to solve cases?
Zayne: A lot. The thing about the “Thin Blue Line” is when people hear the name, they think “police”. The thin blue line also represents the line between their family and job. The decisions they have to make and the balance between the two they have to make. For example, Garia‘s life has been affected a lot! He is so involved with his work! It affected his family life so much he is now divorced. His wife meets someone else. The kids are going back and forth between parents. They both care about each other. It’s just he’s so involved with work Garcia doesn’t have time for her. His wife feels alone and sure, he takes care of his kids. Yet at the end of the day it is his job that he is married to. With Michael, it only affects him a little. He does what he is supposed to do. At the same time, he’s going to eat, talk to girls, and do whatever he wants. He skates through his job.
UNPLUGGED: What can the audience expect to see from the first episode?
Fred: There’s going to be a couple of moments where the audience says to themselves “Ohhhhhh! Did that just happen?” You’re going to enjoy it.
Zayne: The whole purpose of the pilot is to grab someone’s attention to the show. I feel like we do have those surprising moments. We want people to stay interested. You will be ready to see the next episode.
Jared: I agree! Every character is so different. Their own personal stories. The audience is going to be wowed by the whole show. They are truly going to care about its characters. They are going to want to know what happens to Mike next week, our whoever their favorite character is. It’s an engaging and emotional show. I want them to fall in love with the characters and the chemistry.
Mardel: Everyone will see all the hard work we put in. Our dedication to the show. I love our Columbus roots. Columbus doesn’t have other tv shows being made here. Acting isn’t a big thing here, not in Ohio. Unless you’re in Cincinnati. In LA this is normal. Here, we are doing something different. Were creating a whole new lane for Columbus.
Zayne: Were opening up a new caliber of what Columbus has to offer. This is something that no one has ever tried here. Creating a successful tv show. We have a lot of people interested here. We are going to be on “Good Day Columbus” 7 days from now. Were going to show a couple of clips. It’s going to be a game changer. When people see we’re putting roots in the ground here, we believe we can create something special for Columbus. We are hiring locally. We want to work with Columbus and the police to make something truly special. To create growth for Columbus. We want to thank everybody who has helped us out. The makeup artists we have are ridiculous. A ridiculous caliber of what they do. They are at the Hollywood level. There are so many people helping us do this stuff. Technical directors, prop handlers, location scouts and so much more! We wouldn’t be able to afford to do this without them. They believe in what we’re doing. They see the vision we see and helped us bring our vision to life! The premiere is going to be here in Columbus. It is going to be one of the largest events to hit Columbus! It wasn’t filmed in Hollywood. It was filmed here! People are going to see us around every week. That’s what they do in LA and Atlanta. We want to do it here. It’s not just cows and corn that we have here. There’s so much more than corn, you know?
Fred: The thing I look forward to is when people see the finished product and can say “I know where that is!” I’m not from Columbus, but Zayne grew up here. When people can look up at the screen and say “I know that person!” That’s what I look forward to. I want to make show business more real to the people of Columbus and Ohio.
Zayne: We have a film take credit. We have been approved for another year. The amount is going up for the credit and we want to get it done soon. We are creating jobs for people. We Are bringing on PA’s, People to do catering, transportation, and lodging. We are creating jobs for people and helping grow local businesses and services. We are creating more capital here.
UNPLUGGED: In every movie, there is alway a budget. How do you balance the creative mind, with the budget of the producer?
Fred: I had an advantage because I wrote it. So I specifically did not write anything crazy. We only had one real stunt. We practiced for about 45 minutes before we did the stunt. Our budget was nothing. If we needed to use something I would run to the store and get it.
UNPLUGGED: Is there anything else you want to share about “The Thin Blue Line”?
Mardel: Everything you want to see in a show. Excitement, drama, suspense. Everyone is going to enjoy it.
Jared: The things that are in motion, the ideas. The plans they have for the future are big. Its ludicrous. We want to bring your city to tv. Were so excited for it. Please give us your support. We want to make things happen.
Zayne: Thank you for having us by the way! It’s important to talk to the media. We want to tell you more about our show! Reach out if you have questions on social media.
Fred: You should tune in. There’s more than a few things planned for this show. So check us out!
UNPLUGGED: What are your social media handles?
Fred: You can contact us through “The Thin Blue Line” Facebook page. There are a lot of projects under the same name. So look for the badge. That is how you will know that you have found the right one.
Zayne: @zaynerichardsimpson on all social media platforms.
Mardel: Facebook: Mardel Hawkins. Instagram: Deezy_theactor.
Article written by: Caitlin Johnson.
Interview by: Phillip Bufford, Owner of UNPLUGGED Magazine
The Thin Line Cast: Mardel Hawkins, Jared Nobel, Zayne Richard Simpson, & Producer Fred Wheeler