Andy Samberg on ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ and Playing a Cop
By Fred Topel
Andy Samberg (SNL) is back on television with the Fox half-hour comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine premiering September 17, 2013 at 8:30pm. The new series stars Samberg as a hotshot detective and Andre Braugher as the new Captain out to prove himself. The cast also includes Terry Crews, Melissa Fumero, Joe Lo Truglio, Stephanie Beatriz, and Chelsea Peretti.
Samberg sat down to chat about this new series at the 2013 summer Television Critics Association event in Los Angeles, describing his character and providing a little insight into what viewers who tune in to the single-camera comedy series can expect.
Andy Samberg Brooklyn Nine-Nine Interview
So does the fact that this character is a good cop give you license to be even sillier than if you were a goof ball?
Andy Samberg: “Absolutely. I mean, that’s something that Mike [Schur] and Dan [Goor] and I talked about a lot. He’s basically like a hotshot detective, like it comes easier to him than it does for a lot of the others, so it makes him cocky enough to sort of screw around constantly and slack off a lot. That kind of is the core dynamic of the show. Andre’s character is trying to get him to be the total package and sort of live up to his potential.”
I thought of Ace Ventura, who is actually quite a good detective.
Andy Samberg: “Yes.”
And he’s even sillier.
Andy Samberg: “He’s an incredible detective. I talked with Akiva [Schaffer] about that all the time, about how the secret about Ace Ventura is that it’s a really good detective story. If you replaced all the elements, like the dolphin and Ray Finkle and all stuff, with like a murder and like menacing characters, the way that he puts it together…the crime and the clues and like when he goes into the crime scenes acting like a maniac, but then he points out that the soundproof glass, you know, ‘You would’ve heard gunshots,’ You’re like, ‘Oh, he leaves that room kind of drop the mike fashion, because it actually was good detective work.’ So, yeah, I encourage that comparison.”
Have you ever been arrested?
Andy Samberg: “I’ve never been arrested. [Laughing] I’ve had my information taken, there’s a story there. I grew up in Berkeley, so there was definitely a lot of like, ‘Oh, look out for the cops.’ But yeah, I like the cops.”
Did you shadow any cops for this role at all?
Andy Samberg: “No, we haven’t gotten me on the shooting range or meeting with former cops.”
Do you want to do a ride along?
Andy Samberg: “Yeah, sure. I think it’s definitely on the books. I’m going to do it at some point.”
Just how serious is this guy or how much of a goof is he?
Andy Samberg: “He’s extremely serious when it comes to solving crimes. It’s his passion. We sort of likened it with a lot of sports analogies where it’s like you know the guy who is just born to play. He really gets a thrill from being good at it and catching the bad guys. You know, he thinks of it in those very plain terms.”
But with the bureacracy he gets a little bored?
Andy Samberg: “Yeah. It’s like a kid in a classroom that’s smarter than everyone else and goofs off and gets kicked out. But then at the end of the year, the teacher’s like, ‘You’re my best student, but you’ve got to focus and stop taking away from everybody else and be a team player because you’re being selfish and squandering your talent.’”
How close did you ever come to becoming a cop? When you were a kid, did you dress up as a cop for Halloween?
Andy Samberg: [Laughing "I would say zero percent close. It's never been a dream of mine. In fact, when we were shooting the pilot...I told my friends this story and it made me laugh... while we were shooting the pilot, all day long I was playing a detective and then as I was driving home, I was on the freeway and a cop drove by, and I was like, 'Oh shit!'"
Were you the class clown or the class comedian?
Andy Samberg: "It was kind of both. I mean, I got kicked out of class a lot for not being able to keep my mouth shut."
Can you talk about Andre Braugher and finding that right dynamic? Was he the first person that you thought of for the role? How did that pairing come about?
Andy Samberg: "Well, when we were casting, we were talking about a bunch of names and [Mike and Dan] were like, ‘What do you think of Andre Braugher?’ And I was like, ‘That would be incredible.’ I love the movie Glory, so I’ve kind of been a Braugherhead since Glory, which he reminds me constantly was his first job. But, I’ve been loving it. You know, the scenes we’ve shot where it’s just he and I and that dynamic is so easy for me to play, because he’s so grounded and has so much gravitas that when I’m sort of goofing around – I like to describe it as like a poodle kind of yepping around a giant. It just makes everything you do funnier, because he’s making it feel more real.”
One of the producers said this isn’t Police Squad but there do seem to be some elements of Police Squad, don’t you think?
Andy Samberg: “Yes, although Police Squad has like almost a surreal element to it. You know that Zucker Brothers tradition, that is not in this. Like, there’s nothing happening on our show that is genuinely outside the realm of reality, and I think that’s the distinction. But yes in terms of like being in a police precinct and there being things that we’re hoping people laugh at.”
Do you miss SNL and will you go back to host this year?
Andy Samberg: “Oh my goodness. I’ll go back to host any time they want me to. That’s not something that the host decides. That’s something Lorne decides. But, yeah, I miss it every day.”
What do you miss most about it?
Andy Samberg: “I mean, the most is just all my friends who are still there and just that sort of environment of camaraderie and the intensity of coming up with something, you know, that you’ll come up with on a Thursday or Friday to be on television on Saturday. That rush.”
Does Justin Timberlake call you up and say, “Let’s do a video,” and then you just do it?
Andy Samberg: “I’ve only done videos with Justin when he’s hosted. But he did call me to come do the live sketch when he hosted this year, yeah.”
I saw some “Dick in a Box” cosplay at Comic-Con. Does that make you proud?
Andy Samberg: “Absolutely. That’s the best. If you crack Comic-Con, you’re doing something right.”
It looks like SNL is about reinvent itself with a lot of the cast members pursuing different things now.
Andy Samberg: “Yeah.”
Is that good for the show, do you think, when you kind of have like a little bit of an exit of the talent that’s been there for a while?
Andy Samberg: “I think it is, yeah. I mean, traditionally, if you look back on it, any time there’s been sort of a…I don’t want to call it an exodus but when there’s been a large group that goes out and a large group that comes in, it attempts to reinvent itself and sort of find a new tone. I mean, that certainly, I’d like to think was the case when my generation I came in with [Jason] Sudeikis and [Kristen] Wiig and [Bill] Hader and Colin Jost who’s now head writer with Seth.”
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