NEW YORK – Now here’s a character an actress can really sink her teeth into: A brilliant police detective with food issues. Meet Det. Brenda Johnson, a 40-something, workaholic, divorced southern belle whose only nighttime company these days is the Ring Ding she keeps in the top drawer of her bedside table.
She’s so talented at interrogating suspects that she’s been nicknamed The Closer for her skill at eliciting confessions and closing tough cases.
"The Closer (search)" is also the name of a new cop series premiering this week on TNT (search). It’s Kyra Sedgwick (search)’s first starring role in a TV series and, as she acknowledges, it’s a meaty one.
"She is a fascinating character," Sedgwick said on the phone from Los Angeles, where she’s just past the midway point in filming the show’s first 13 episodes. "She’s struggling with issues that a lot of women struggle with — weight and how to look and how to be, especially in Los Angeles," said Sedgwick, 39, a New York native and wife of actor Kevin Bacon.
As "The Closer" begins, Johnson is newly arrived in Los Angeles from Atlanta, where she became a star detective.
She comes to the LAPD as deputy chief of a new unit specializing in celebrity homicide cases — the Priority Murder Squad — that’s been formed to win more convictions in cases involving rich and famous defendants who often get acquitted because of the money they are able to spend on teams of defense lawyers. (Not coincidentally, Gil Garcetti, L.A. district attorney during the O.J. Simpson era, is a consultant on "The Closer.")
In this week’s premiere, Johnson investigates the disappearance of a prize-winning mathematician.
But that’s not her only challenge as she starts her new job. As a deputy chief, Johnson outranks most of the department brass from the outset, which rankles everyone, not least because she’s a woman and they’re all men.
"What’s interesting about her character is that she very much works in a man’s world, but refuses to be a man," Sedgwick said. "She’s very much a woman and she uses her femininity to draw people out, to befriend them."
One weapon in Johnson’s arsenal of feminine charm is a southern accent, which Sedgwick has had to adopt for the role.
"It’s a great part of the character," she said. "I find it utterly disarming and charming. It can be so lovely [but] it can also lull you into a false sense of security."