‘Castle’ Star Nathan Fillion Returns to Fictional Police Work in ‘The Rookie’

© 2018 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Credit: ABC/Tony Rivetti.

The Rookie


Premieres: Oct. 16

Airs: Tuesdays at 10pm ET/PT

Who’s In It? Nathan Fillion, Melissa O’Neil, Titus Makin Jr., Alyssa Diaz, Richard T. Jones, Mercedes Mason, Eric Winter

What’s It All About? Fan favorite actor Nathan Fillion’s last regularly starring lead television role was in ABC’s beloved 2009-16 drama Castle, in which he played a mystery writer helping police solve crimes. In his return to the network, and to a starring role, with the new drama The Rookie, Fillion is again fighting crime — but this time, his character is actually one of the heroes in blue.

In this series inspired by actual events, Fillion plays John Nolan, a 40-something man who, after a life-altering incident, decides to pursue his dream of becoming an LAPD officer. Naturally, as the force’s oldest rookie (his fellow rookies are all in their 20s), Nolan is met with skepticism from some higher-ups, who view him as just a guy with a midlife crisis who might end up putting others at risk. But he hopes to show them otherwise and make sure his second shot at life counts.

“This is, I feel, a new norm that we are experiencing culturally,” Fillion said. “It’s the ‘do-over.’ It’s the ‘reboot.’ It’s the ‘I got fired. What’s my next job going to be?’ It’s ‘I’m no longer a dad. I’m no longer a husband. Now what am I?’

“And I think this is relatable in that sense. I don’t think everybody is going to become a rookie cop, but I think there are a lot of people who are either having this reinvention experience or at least know someone who has.”

Series creator/executive producer/writer Alexi Hawley, who was also a showrunner and EP for Fillion’s Castle, agreed, adding, “The idea of a character who is at a crossroads in his life and is willing to sort of throw everything aside and change his entire life without knowing how it’s going to work out was kind of a great jumping-off point for a character.”

It’s fitting that a fun and genial actor like Fillion can put his trademark charm, wit and humanity on display here — especially during the physical scenes in which Nolan is seen out of breath or otherwise physically showing his age, to which Fillion could certainly relate.

“Six pounds of Epsom salt,” the 47-year-old actor quipped about what he needed after one particularly rough day of shooting. “[For] bruises up and down my thighs.

“Listen, I’m at the point in my life where, if I can have a stunt guy run down the street for me, these knees will appreciate it.”

Beyond sympathizing with Nolan’s physical pains, Fillion is also able to look at the premise of The Rookie and find perspective in terms of his own long and successful acting career. “This January, guys,” Fillion pointed out to reporters, “[I’ll have] 25 years in the business. … You find yourself playing somebody’s son, and then somebody’s brother. And then maybe all of a sudden now you are married, now you have a baby. And then your baby is actually 14, and then she grows to 22, and now you are the oldest.

“That’s your jam now. That’s your title, ‘the oldest.’ That happens. [And] I feel fortunate that I still feel a little bit relevant.”

So You Think You Can Be A 40-Year-Old Police Rookie?

The rigorous physical demands of being a police patrol officer would seem to rule out people “of a certain age” being allowed to take on that job. And that generally is the case in most police departments — with the Los Angeles Police Department, the setting for The Rookie, being an exception.

When asked at a press conference whether there is an age limit for being a rookie in the LAPD, series creator/EP/writer Alexi Hawley said, “There actually isn’t. I mean, I think if you are 60, they won’t take you. [But] 40s is OK.

“And it’s interesting, because there aren’t a ton of police departments that will take you in your 40s. You can’t get any job in federal law enforcement past, I think, 37. So L.A. is one of the few, and that’s where our real-life rookie that this is based on ended up, and he’s on the job [there] now.”