The Closer cast member Robert Gossett (Commander Russell Taylor) reveals his favorite moments and experiences during the show’s seven-season run. The final six episodes of The Closer begin Monday, July 9, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) on TNT.
Q: Take us back seven years ago when you first picked up the pilot script of The Closer. What interested you, and what was the audition process like for that first episode?
A: I got that script, read it and immediately got very excited. The characters were so richly drawn. It was so compelling, and it drew me in. And then as an actor, things really get tight for you because then you say, “I wanna do this. I really need to do this. I have to have this part.” And that of course puts all kinds of pressure on you. Wrong way to go, but the audition process turned out to be very good. The stars were aligned in the sense that the people who were doing the project all seemed to be people I’d worked with at some point in my career. Bruce Newburg, the wonderful casting director for this show, is the person I think we all agree assembled a great cast of actors and does so each week with a great guest-star murder suspect. Bruce said to me, “You’re gonna get this part,” so he had me come in and read, and he worked with me. Then I met James Duff, Michael Robin and Greer Shephard, and I instantly fell in love with them. I really had an affinity for James because he comes from theater, and I’m a theater rat.
So now, I wind up a year later in a room with Michael Robin, James Duff, Bruce Newburg and Peter Roth, the president of Warner Bros. Television. Roth says, “Mr. Gossett, you know we saw what you did, and after you left we turned to each other, and everybody seems to think that, well, you’re the guy for this part. And we’re wondering, would you consider working for us for the next five years?” Well Peter, it turned out be seven years, but I’m not complaining. I know you only asked for five, and that’s what I agreed to initially, but here we are seven years later and I just want to say thank you.
Q: What has been one of the most fun things for you playing Commander Taylor and being part of this cast?
A: That’s such a broad question because so many things are fun. I get to come to work with arguably some of the best actors in the business right now. I work with some of the best people I’ve ever met in terms of their support for the things they do off camera, like G.W. with Sunshine Kids and the support he gets throughout the cast. We all have different areas and projects that we care deeply about, and we’re able to enlist the support of our fellow cast members and crew and even the producers to help make that happen. I support the African Children’s Choir, which helps build schools in Africa. Andy Sacks and James have been very good about allowing those people who fly in to actually be a part of the experience. I also work with a youth mentoring group, and we’re able to get the kids in here, which is just the most fun. You are with people who are so giving and so unselfish that it makes you proud of our industry, and I’m just honored to know them.
Q: Brenda Leigh Johnson is not always so nice, and I don’t know if Commander Taylor agrees with her ways of going about getting a confession all the time. Would you say that deception is really part of the confession?
A: Yes, because gaining the trust of the suspect is part of that deception. That’s a huge part. Deception is keeping in mind that if you get a person to a certain point, they’ll want to tell you. Any time you’ve done something as heinous as murder, it’s a lot to want to hold onto. So I wouldn’t say I disagree with her methods. I think there are a lot of problems in terms of how she got her position. But ultimately, she has succeeded at that position, and there’s no denying that. Taylor would have to be a fool not to see that she really has done a great job.
Q: What is it like to be here these last four days shooting the final episodes?
A: It’s bittersweet because we know we’re moving on with Major Crimes. It will become something different, but hopefully as good and compelling. Seven years is a long time. Coming from theater, I’m used to doing a show six months and then I’m out of work. So seven years is quite remarkable.