Fillion hits the reset button for ‘Rookie’
As a young boy growing up in Canada, Nathan Fillion spent many a day playing cops and robbers with his older brother. Actually, they played Highway Patrol officers. If we’re being super specific, they pretended to be the leads of TV’s late-’70s classic “CHiPs.”
Fillion, as the fairerhaired brother, took on the role of Jon Baker, opposite his brother’s turn as Frank “Ponch” Poncherello. “We’d be on our bikes with walkie-talkies that were terrible and never worked,” Fillion recalls
These days, Fillion, now 47, has graduated to playing a rookie police officer.
Two years after wrapping his stint on ABC’s popular whodunit procedural “Castle,” Fillion returns to the network in the new cop drama “The Rookie.”
Based on a true story, the series follows John Nolan (Fillion), a 40-year-old, recently divorced smalltown guy who, after a lifechanging incident, decides to pursue a career as a cop — becoming the oldest rookie officer in Los Angeles Police Department history. The series premieres Oct. 16.
Inside a spacious trailer on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, Calif., Fillion, who also serves as an executive producer on the series, has plopped down in a chair during an afternoon break from filming the fifth episode of the season. He’s as genial and self-deprecating
“It used to be that you get a job, and that’s your job until you retire. Things move much faster now.”
— Nathan Fillion
as you’d expect from a guy who’s earned the reputation as the charming guy-next-door. He also has that slightly tired-but-resilient look of a person settling back into the grind of a network hourlong drama.
“I had my doubts as to whether or not I was ready to come back to work,” says Fillion, who had an eight-season run as a cheeky crime solver in “Castle.”
The idea of hitting the reset button later in life felt to Fillion like intriguing ground to cover.
“This is the new norm, starting over,” he says. “It used to be that you get a job, and that’s your job until you retire. Things move much faster now.”
Fillion knows something about changing course. He was raised by two English teachers, and like his brother, was on the path to become an educator. “I didn’t have a passion for teaching, by any means,” he says. “I told my parents my plan: ‘I’m going to get my degree, and then I’m going to go try acting. ... I doubt I’ll succeed. I’m sure it’ll be tough ... but I can always fall back on teaching.’ ”
“The Rookie” further deepens Fillion’s ties to ABC. He scored his break on the network’s comedy series “Two Guys and a Girl” before transitioning to “Firefly” and “Castle.”
“What I think the audiences respond to with Nathan is he feels very accessible,” said ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey. “Yet, at the same time, he’s heroic. He’s like the guy-nextdoor gone one degree better. I think that’s what makes him relatable but also grounded. I think that’s a big part of his appeal with audiences.”