When Shemar Moore left CBS’ highly successful series Criminal Minds after 11 seasons, fans cried at the loss of popular character Derek Morgan. But Moore explains, “I just got to a place where I felt like I was running out of gas as far as what else to do with Derek.”
Now Moore is back on CBS on Thursday as Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson, the lead in S.W.A.T., a bold, modern, more eye-popping version of the successful franchise that has already been a ’70s TV series and a 2003 movie blockbuster. “This is a dream job,” Moore marvels. “This is a dream opportunity, and I am so ready to go out there and show what I’m capable of as an actor, and bring this story to life, bring this franchise to life in a very new way.”
And while Moore is thrilled for his future, he’ll never forget his past. “Without Derek Morgan there’d be no Hondo,” he acknowledges. “My entire career has been great training for me to get to this moment, because this moment is bigger than just S.W.A.T. It’s bigger than me just being the lead. I’m very proud that I get to be a leader, and I’m very proud of what I think the vision of this show is going to be. I think there’s going to be more than just an entertaining television show. This is gonna spark conversation, and this is going to surprise people.”
Moore shares that his character is a product of the same tough L.A. streets that he now protects. “He saw unrest and saw racism and saw injustices growing up,” explains Moore. “He saw an opportunity — with a push from his father — of rather than complaining about injustices, get in there and be a part of making change.” Now, Hondo serves as the bridge between civilians and authorities.
Although his character on Criminal Minds also worked in law enforcement, Moore says that his role on S.W.A.T. takes police work to the next level. “Hondo is Derek Morgan on steroids, and not just physically, but emotionally,” jokes Moore, noting that the physicality of the role has turned the already fit actor into a major gym rat. “If you meet the real men and women of S.W.A.T., these are physical specimens. They don’t look good for vanity. They do look good, but they have to train an hour a day just to have the stamina, just to have the physical strength to carry the weapons and do the things that are asked of them.”
S.W.A.T. strives to portray an honest depiction of real life for members of police S.W.A.T. units and mixes high-stakes drama with eye-popping action. “I do something in this first episode that will be the biggest action hero moment of my life,” Moore shares. “I don’t want to give it away, but it has something to do with a helicopter, and it is no joke. It is NO joke.”
S.W.A.T. > CBS > Thursdays beginning Nov. 2 at 10/9c