Jerry O’Connell Plays a TV Detective Whose Life Imitates His Art in ‘Carter’

© 2018 Sony Pictures Television. Credit: Brooke Palmer

Jerry O’Connell stars in WGN America’s lighthearted crime procedural Carter as Harley Carter, a Hollywood star who retreats to his small Canadian hometown after a very public — and very humiliating — red carpet meltdown. Once there, Harley decides that his fictitious sleuthing skills qualify him to be a real-life detective, much to the amazed chagrin of his two childhood best friends: no-nonsense veteran police officer Sam Shaw (Chicago P.D.’s Sydney Poitier Heartsong) and the dry-witted owner of a local coffee truck, Dave Leigh (Orphan Black standout Kristian Bruun). “This is about a guy who plays a cop on TV, who then helps the cops out using the skills he learned while working on TV cop dramas. It’s pretty inside the show,” O’Connell says. “It was almost like doing Waiting for Guffman for crime procedurals.”

The residents of the sleepy town of Bishop have a hard time separating Harley from his wildly popular TV persona — a suave detective also named Harley Carter — and bombard him with requests to help investigate local crimes. “He left the town of Bishop for all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, but he really intended on coming home,” says O’Connell. Harley sees his foray into crime-solving as an opportunity to help his friends and neighbors, and solve the 25-year-old mystery of his mother’s disappearance. “It’s sort of our season-long storyline,” explains O’Connell. “And it really pays off.”

O’Connell believes that the breezy police procedural is a nod to Law & Order-like crime dramas. “I don’t wanna say we make fun of the crime procedural genre,” says the actor, “but the show winks at the genre. And anyone who is a fan of crime shows — like I am — is really gonna enjoy it.” The actor also reveals that Carter is action-packed, and he loves finding himself in the middle of the flurry. “I’m getting up there in years, but I’m still pretty nimble. I can handle it,” O’Connell laughs. “I can’t believe I’m saying this. I’m not like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 8, but I do a lot of my own stunts.”

Carter premieres on WGN America Aug. 7 at 10pm ET/PT and airs Tuesdays.