The law’s new order
Funny man Anthony Anderson gets a chance to prove his dramatic worth, writes Siobhan Duck
JESSE L. Martin’s decision to leave Law & Order after nine years as Det Ed Green has been a godsend for actor/comedian Anthony Anderson, who is set to join the show in a special crossover episode, Burn Card, airing January 30.
Martin cited burnout as his reason for leaving, and the show’s creator Dick Wolf said he and Martin had been in talks for six months. Martin has since been linked to a biopic of soul star Marvin Gaye.
Anderson (above) joins the cast as Det Kevin Bernard, an Internal Affairs officer who wants to work in homicide.
‘‘His (Bernard’s) dream was to become a homicide detective, but he had to serve two years in IAB before that could happen,’’ Anderson says.
‘‘You may think he’s a by-the-book guy because he comes from Internal Affairs, but he knows how to get around certain things without cutting too many corners to get the job done.’’
Traditionally, Hollywood hasn’t made it easy for comedians to leap into drama.
The 38-year-old says he decided to do serious roles before he hit the big time as a comedian to avoid being typecast as a funny guy.
As a result, the rotund comedian’s CV features a range of film work from the heavy, Oscar-winning films The Departed and Hustle and Flow to the popular slapstick movies Big Momma’s House and Me, Myself and Irene.
Before joining Law & Order, Anderson’s appearances on the small screen had been in sitcoms.
‘‘I’ve not forsaken comedy,’’ he says. ‘‘I made a conscious decision to work in drama before I became typecast as a comedic actor because once you do it’s very hard for Hollywood to accept you as anything else.
‘‘In Hollywood there’s a misconception that comedic actors can’t do drama.
‘‘But people forget that Tom Hanks started in comedy in (the sitcom) Bosom Buddies and (the movie) Big.
‘‘Robin Williams is a great comedian and has done Good Morning Vietnam.
‘‘Richard Prior —some of his best work was not in comedy in Lady Sings the Blues and Harlem Nights.
‘‘Jamie Fox made his name in sitcoms but was brilliant in the Ray Charles biopic.
‘‘More times than not comedians and comedic actors can do drama, but you cannot get a dramatic actor to do comedy.
‘‘It’s a different muscle that we exercise.’’
ANDERSON says winning a supporting role in The Departed was a dream come true. He was stunned when director Martin Scorsese phoned to arrange a meeting with him at his hotel room.
‘‘I was surprised (to get the call) but I knew it wasn’t my friends playing a prank,’’ he says.
‘‘They wouldn’t joke about some- thing like that. They’d be more likely to ring and pretend to be the bill collectors.’’
He says Scorsese offered him the role of Trooper Brown — one of the many characters to get shot by Matt Damon’s character in the bloody final scenes of the gripping film — within five minutes of their meeting.
‘‘To work with people like Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin and Martin Sheen — these are some of the greatest actors of our time,’’ Anderson says.
‘‘To be part of an ensemble like that is quite a feather in my cap.’’