Ian Anthony Dale stars as “Lieutenant Jim Koto”, head of the San Francisco PD homicide unit in TNT’s new crime drama “Murder In The First”, which premiered June 9th. Ian is no stranger to crime drama. He played Adam Noshimuri in “Hawaii Five-O” as well as role of detective in “Criminal Minds” and “Day Break”. Some of his noteable tv credits include “The Event”, “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”, “Surface,” “American Horror Story”. His film credits include “The Hangover”, “Tekken”, “Mr. 3000”, and “The Bucket List”.
The talented Ian joins Eclipse Magazine to talk about TNT’s new summer drama “Murder In The First”.
Congratulations for “Murder In The First” which premiered on June 9!
The numbers came in for the premiere. It is off to a solid start. It is the best series launch for a new series on basic cable for 2014. I’m happy about that.
That’s exactly what you want to hear!
Can you recap what the show is about?
It is a 10 episode murder mystery that follows a single case from the commitment of the crime to investigation, arrest, and trial. Our lead detectives played by Taye Diggs & Kathleen Robertson investigate two seemingly unrelated murders but the mystery deepens however when they realize the murders have a common denominator in Silicon Valley tech genius Erich Blunt played by Tom Felton. We raised the question what would happen if somebody with the power and influence in the tech world such as a Mark Zuckerberg became embroiled in a murder investigation? I play Lieutenant Jim Koto, the boss of the San Francisco police department.
My character is described as someone who wakes up in the morning, looks at himself in the mirror, and says “I’m going to be mayor of San Francisco one day.” He’s very ambitious. He has political aspirations of his own. It will be interesting to see how as the season unfolds, that his ambitions can cloud his judgement and test his allegiances and his relationships. It’s a very complex mystery from Steven Bochco and newcomer Eric Lodal. I really hope people get sucked into it, because if they do, there will be a just reward at the end.
And we always love just rewards (laughing).
Absolutely. Justice will be served.
There are a lot of other cop shows out there right now. What do you think makes this show stand out more from the others?
The fact we have a season long mystery separates our show from the majority of other cop shows on the air. There are so many procedurals that wrap up every case at the end of each episode. Those shows tend to be predictable, esp. if you have a big star guest starring. It’s a safe bet that nine times out of ten, that guest star is probably going to be the murderer. There’s not a lot of imagination going into watching a show like that. It’s very easy viewing. You don’t have to pay too much attention.
With a show like ours, there’s a lot of twists and turns and little bits of evidence that if you aren’t paying attention, you might miss. It is a season long journey and we hope that people feel like they are taking part of the investigation with us. They can have their suspicions about who it might be and zero in on who they think are the main suspects. I think ours allows for a little more engagement and a little more realistic about the way that actual homicide investigations are. It takes time – weeks, sometimes months or years. For those people who stick with us the entire season, there’s going to be a real payoff at the end.
It won’t be obvious who the bad guy is. There are going to be some clear suspects. There’s going to be some red herrings along the way. Those are elements you need in a grand mystery. If you’re driving toward the same person all the time, it might become a little predictable. There are several different characters that could potentially have killed Cindy Strauss.
Nobody is really safe. I remember when we were filming when each new episode came out, everybody was kind of wondering, “Could I be the killer? Could they make a detective a killer? Could they make a lawyer a killer?” The possibilities are endless. That is kind of how we want the audience to feel.
When the scripts come out, it is very secret. You don’t find out until a few days before the shoot what the scene about?
Yes, that’s correct.
We’re along for the ride just like everyone else. That’s really exciting.
How did you get involved in this show?
I auditioned for it. Once in a great while you’ll read a script and there will be a character that’s tailor made for you. All you can hope for is the opportunity to read for it and I did. This one was meant to be. I’m very fortunate that it went my way.
Did you feel a strong connection to Lieutenant Jim Koto?
I did. There’s a huge population of Asian Americans in San Francisco. I was very pleased that Eric Lodal and Steven Bochco wrote a character that is appropriate in the region where the story takes place. When I got into the audition, I had an opportunity to ask Eric “What was your inspiration for these characters?” He said, “I’ve been in San Francisco. We’ve spent time at the Precinct 850 Bryant Street. There are so many young Asian American men throughout the precinct. We have a character that is representative of that.”
Society is evolving at one rate and Hollywood is evolving. We are able to identify. I’d love to see that. It is a sign of progress.
The face of diversity such as more Asians on tv is changing .
There is a gradual shift that is starting to happen. I have good friends who also make a living in the business. All of us are working at the same time. Usually one role pops up every so often that everyone tries to get. Now there’s work for everybody. That’s wonderful and I hope that continues.
You have been in the business for a while now. Compared to when you first started, would you say the type of roles on tv and film have changed?
The roles I’ve gotten the opportunity to play have evolved. They’ve become more 3-dimensional. They’ve become more positive, stronger representations of an Asian American male. I think my time in this business has allowed me to get those opportunities.
Less developed, more stereotypical characters still exist throughout our industry. I feel like I’ve gotten to a point in my career where I don’t necessarily need to do those kind of roles. I can focus on the ones that tries to change the perspective in a positive way. That’s my focus and that’s my goal and it’s my responsibility as an Asian American actor. It is my job to make sure I am representing properly.
I love that! Here’s an interesting fact. Your father was an Olympic hockey player and you did sports, correct?
Yes, he played for the 68th Olympic hockey team. He also played professional hockey for the Johnstown, Pennsylvania Jets and the Seattle Totems. I grew up in a sports family. In fact, both my father, 2 of my brothers and myself all won state baseball champions at the same high school. It’s a nice little family legacy we have.
I love sports. I’ve become an LA Kings Fan over the years having lived in Los Angeles. So yes, huge sports fan.
You started out on sports. What changed your focus from sports to acting?
I experienced an injury when I was a junior in high school which signaled an end to my baseball career. Around the same time, I discovered the theatre. It happened coincidentally around the same time. I started to make the realization I wasn’t going to have much of a career in baseball and I wanted to start thinking about something else I was passionate about.
Theatre filled that void. It is something I grew to really love. I still love it to this day. I’ve been making a living at it now for the past 12 to 13 years. I got lucky. When I tell any young kid who is trying to figure out what they want to do, the first thing I ask them is, “What are you passionate about?” You can make a living or try to make a living with what you are passionate about. I always suggest going for something like that.
When one door closes, another door opens.
Yes, there is always another great opportunity for discovery right around the corner.
You’ve done “Hawaii Five-O”. Will there be a chance your character Adam will make an appearance with Kono in a future episode of Hawaii Five-O?
I can’t speak too much of it. I loved my experiences on Hawaii 5 O’. The producers and the cast and the crew and the entire Hawaii 5 O’ family was such an experience. I’m so grateful for the opportunity. I would love to come back in some capacity. We will see.
Our lips are zipped on that one!
Yes, you’ll need to tune in to find out.
We will definitely have to tune in next Monday for “Murder In The First”. I love it! It keeps me hanging. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Excellent. That’s our objective.
You can catch “Murder In The First” on Mondays at 10/9c on TNT!
Official web site: http://www.tntdrama.com/shows/murder-in-the-first.html
You can keep updated on the latest with Ian Anthony Dale at Twitter & Instagram!
Photos by Gabriel Goldberg/Courtesy of TNT