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Mercedes Mason: 'The Rookie' shows 'still good people out there'

By Karen Butler
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Mercedes Mason: 'The Rookie' shows 'still good people out there'
Mercedes Mason can now be seen in the new cop dramedy, "The Rookie." Photo courtesy of ABC

Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Unlike some darker police procedurals, ABC's freshman dramedy The Rookie focuses on the heroic men and women behind the badges rather than the awful cases they are investigating.

Co-stars Mercedes Mason and Richard T. Jones told UPI in recent phone interviews they think people are connecting to the Tuesday night show's optimistic vibe.

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"We're so hyper-aware of all this hatred and all the horrors going on in the world," Mason said. "I think it's naturally human instinct to seek some sort of affirmation that human nature is good. That there are still good people out there."

Created by Alexi Hawley, the series stars Nathan Fillion as John Nolan, a 40-something, police academy graduate starting his new job with the Los Angeles Police Department after his wife divorces him and his construction business fails. Mason and Jones play his supervisors and Melissa O'Neil and Titus Makin play his fellow newbie officers.

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"One thing that Alexi really wanted to bring across was a positive viewpoint of police officers, which I love," Jones, a real-life father of four, said in a separate phone interview.

"I love that he honored the LAPD, in that sense, and you see regular people doing a hard, hard job." Mason had just given birth to her first child when she picked up the script for The Rookie.

"I was a couple of weeks postpartum when I first read it and there is a scene in the pilot where there is a little boy in a hot car," she said, referring to the memorable moment when Nolan rescues an endangered child.

"Maybe it was the hormones, but I remember reading that, just sobbing. It just hit me," she said. "I realized if I'm having a visceral experience just reading the pilot, this is something I, obviously, need to be involved in."

The fact her character Police Captain Zoe Andersen -- Nolan's mentor and best ally -- is introduced at the start of the season, but has more to do in later episodes, meant she could ease her way back into work.

"Not only do I get to play a strong, female character, but I have a team -- an amazing group of people -- who are supporting me breastfeeding on set, spending time with my son. That's rare," the 34-year-old actress said.

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The role isn't as physical as the zombie-killer she played on Fear the Walking Dead, but that wasn't intentional.

"I am such a sucker for self-abuse," Mason laughed. "I love doing my own stunts. I love getting gritty and dirty. That is the one thing I miss."

Jones, on the other hand, does not long for the action of chasing bad guys in the field each week.

"I'm trying not to run and jump too much," joked the 46-year-old actor who is also known for his work in Wisdom of the Crowd and Judging Amy.

"Me and Nathan are around the same age and he always comes back injured," he continued. "I'm not trying to injure myself like that, but I actually do get out (of the barracks) and in an upcoming episode I get to be Nolan's training officer. So, you'll see Grey and Nolan on the street together."

The episode is noteworthy since Sergeant Wade Grey -- the strict and protective character Jones plays -- is always criticizing Nolan and trying to get him to quit the force because he worries Nolan will put cops in harm's way.

"He's really passionate about his squad. He really cares for his people that are under him. For them to go out everyday and come back safely is a high priority," Jones said.

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