Jennifer Lopez‘s cop show, Shades of Blue, is turning up the heat (even more so) in its second season.
We last saw Harlee Santos (Lopez) in the Season 1 finale doing something very morally questionable (no spoilers here), adding another secret to her already full plate. Things are also getting hairy for Harlee’s associates, including Wozniak (Ray Liotta), who’s still grappling with the fact that Harlee collaborated with the FBI.
Harlee’s crew is still under tight scrutiny from obsessed FBI agent Stahl (Warren Kole), and now Internal Affairs. To make things even more ridiculously complicated for Harlee, Julia Ayres (Anna Gunn of Breaking Bad), a former member of their crew, runs for mayor, and seems to entering into some sort of relationship with Woz.
Global News interviewed the cast of Shades of Blue in New York City, where they revealed what we can expect in Season 2. (which premieres Sunday, March 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Global).
New York City is a character in itself.
One of the world’s biggest metropolises, New York City never turns off. As the cast says, the city is a palpable part of Shades of Blue. The constant construction, the ever-present sirens and the crowds of people help add a certain element to the show.
“It’s a dynamic city, and you can’t really match the energy just being in it. It’s unpredictable and anything can happen. It’s a spontaneous place – not to mention photogenic!” Kole said.
Lopez especially gets a huge response whenever she’s out and about in her native city (she was born in The Bronx).
“Wherever we go in New York, it’s nuts,” she laughs. “I kind of hate it, in a way, because I can’t do my thing. I can’t go over and sign autographs and take pictures. Literally, it becomes a concert crowd. I learned that in Season 1, that I couldn’t entertain the crowd. I had to be this brooding actress and stay in my trailer, which his hard for me, because I love my fans and I love people.”
“I love New York, it so colours who we are and what we are… it’s an important thing that we film here,” she concluded.
Jennifer Lopez is a force in front of and behind the camera.
The cast can’t say enough about Lopez, who stars in and executive-produces the show. Those two tasks are a drop in the bucket when you consider her full schedule of non-stop work.
“I wasn’t fooled by the rocks that she got,” joked Gino Pesi, who plays Assistant District Attorney James Nava. “She’s still Jenny from the block. [laughs] She has an incredible work ethic. She produces, she dances, she sings, she does this show… every time she turns around there’s something new. She gives her all to that, and on top of it all she’s a wonderful mother, she loves her children and they come first. I don’t know how she does it. It impresses me.”
“She’s a pro. She’s beautiful, and a gracious scene partner,” said Sarah Jeffery, who plays Harlee’s daughter, Cristina.
“She’s just about the work. I don’t know what her reasoning is, since she’s a hard nut to crack,” said Liotta. “She brought this project to NBC three or four times, and each time they said they’d make it if she’d star in it. She refused, then one time… she finally decided to do it. She was more known for romantic comedies, that sort of thing, and they wanted somebody who was known for edgier fare, and doesn’t have a problem killing people — and that would be me [laughs].”
For her part, Lopez thinks she and the production team have assembled the best cast possible.
“I love it because I got to read with every single one of them in casting,” said Lopez. “We saw we had chemistry right away… we hand-picked this family to be together. That’s what they are in the show: they’re a real family, a real unit. It’s been amazing. I feel like we have one of the best casts on television.”
The ethical mess Harlee’s in becomes even messier.
It’s a wonder that Harlee is able to keep everything straight, considering her issues with Cristina; her daughter’s father, Wozniak; Stahl, and everyone else watching her every move.
“The mess just becomes even bigger. The moral lines and ethical lines are pushed even further, and the struggle becomes even more intense for her because of her daughter, because of who she is as a person and her beliefs,” said Lopez. “I think what people respond to in Harlee’s character is that, at the end of the day… she may have been a cop who, you know, they went around the neighborhood and they collected money and stuff, but they weren’t, in their minds, bad cops.”
“They were really pushing those areas of black and white and getting in the gray areas there… of what it takes to maintain justice and to keep neighbourhoods safe.,” she continued. “But she was pushed into a further conundrum of what her moral and ethical lines were, and this year, I feel like it goes even further into what she believes is right and wrong. Even though you are seeing her do the most outrageous, heinous things, that you still believe that she’s a good person. If I can do that, if I can show you that heart, if I can show you that humanity, then I’m doing my job as far as Harlee is concerned. And I think that we were able to do that this season, even with all of the things that this one came up with for me to do that were awful.”
Wozniak is also in for a world of hurt.
Wozniak, too, is dealing with some pretty serious stuff.
“I think the last time you see me, I’ve given myself up to the FBI,” said Liotta. “It turns out the FBI had even more plans and wanted to go even higher up the food chain. Stahl wanted revenge against somebody, and he used me to get there, and the reason why I went along with it was to protect Harlee, first and foremost, and then to protect my crew.”
“Let’s just say the person he wanted me to go after… has lots and lots of power and wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger, either. My son gets injured – I won’t tell you how – but then Woz goes full-on crazy, just killing people left and right.”
At the core of everything on Shades of Blue is a parent’s love.
Expect there to be more scenes involving Harlee’s daughter. Cristina is growing up, so she’s becoming more intertwined in Harlee’s dealings, both professionally and personally. With age comes wisdom and awareness, so it’s no longer necessarily possible for Harlee to keep secrets from Cristina without her finding out.
“The one core thing that Harlee is, is a dedicated mother,” said Lopez. “I understand that. At the core of the show is that love, that commitment, that understanding that ‘I would do anything for my child, so what do I do?’ The character fits me.”
In Season 1, Harlee referred to herself as a “bad person” just trying to do the right thing, even though she’d often end up doing the wrong thing. Lopez says that’s reflective of the normal human experience.
“I think we all think we’re a bad person sometimes,” said Lopez. “We feel that way. Because of the turn Harlee’s life takes in Season 1, she feels like she’s a bad person because she had to lie so much, she’s had to juggle so much, she’s had to do things she never imagined herself doing.”
Lopez insists a “storm” is coming this season.
The first season, according to Lopez, was about establishing the characters and the situation. Now that those are complete, things escalate plot-wise and head into a whole new territory.
“I knew when I read the first page of the first scene of this season… I was, like, ‘OK, that’s what we are doing. We’re going there. OK,'” Lopez said. “I knew that emotionally it wasn’t going to get any easier for [Harlee]. I [always say] a storm is coming this season. It really does feel like they get caught in a hurricane that they can’t get out of this season, until there’s so much… so many casualties and things that happen that she just… it’s like sliding down a slippery slope, and she can’t get traction the whole time. She’s just looking to the side of her and hoping that it stops. And she’s going to hit the bottom, and it just doesn’t stop.”