As long as Peter Onorati stayed in the business, it was bound to happen.
“Mumford is the old man,” Onorati, 64, says of his character on S.W.A.T., CBS’ Thursday drama. “It’s my first role of being the old man, and I love it. He is a straight shooter, by the book, and I love it.”
“He’s not necessarily open to new techniques and new thinking,” Onorati says. “When it comes down to it, it is all about SWAT and he does what is necessary. He is the leader of the other SWAT team. He’s on the street as much as Shemar [Moore’s] team, it’s [just] that you follow Shemar more.”
It takes a tough person to charge into the terrifying situations on the streets of Los Angeles. And Onorati has some experience playing tough characters, such as Stanley Pearson, Jack’s gruff, removed and often drunk father on NBC’s This Is Us. However, that’s not how Onorati sees him.
“He was a pretty normal ’50s father,” Onorati says. “The last episode I was on, it’s in the ’50s, and I am going fishing and leave the kids in the car. My father used to take me on [jobs], and I would stay in the car. [Stanley’s] got a drinking problem, absolutely. Many guys did then. They put food on the table, and they drank.”
Onorati had just returned from visiting his dad in New Jersey when he answered our “5 Questions” from his dream house — a Spanish-style hacienda he and his wife, Jeanette Collins, bought when he was on Civil Wars.
1. Are you a tough guy?
I grew up short and Italian in New Jersey, so I am sure I garnered a certain amount of toughness. Playing football in high school and college … yeah, I have been described as a tough guy, but I am not an animal. I have that ability, if I need to call upon it.
2. What three items do you always keep in the refrigerator or pantry?
Cold Jameson’s is something I would not like to run out of, turkey meatballs and really good bread.
3. When were you starstruck?
I was on the lot at Fox doing Cop Rock with Jim McDaniel, who went on to NYPD Blue, and William Thomas Jr., who is now a minister and my son’s godfather. We were walking toward the Fox commissary, and one path goes into the main cafeteria and the other goes into the private dining room. Just past that fork, a group was talking, and I saw Mel Brooks. I said, “Let’s go to the private dining and look for Mel Brooks.” We are straining, and Mel Brooks comes up and goes, “Mel Brooks, very big name.”
4. What would you be if not an actor?
I would probably be an adman. I loved advertising. I would have been an account executive. I always wanted to be Darrin Stephens, the Dick York one [from Bewitched].
5. What would surprise people about you?
That I am insecure.
S.W.A.T., Thursdays, 10/9c on CBS