Exclusive Interview: THE CLOSER’s Corey Reynolds Talks About Sgt. Gabriel’s Morality, The Closer Spinoff & Being Awesome

Corey Reynolds

THE CLOSER, my all time favorite crime drama is back for a seventh and final season which makes this a bitter sweet reunion.

As a consolation prize, Daemon’s TV was extremely fortunate to have a chat with series star Corey Reynolds who plays Sgt. David Gabriel, the young moral detective who also happens to be Deputy Police Chief Brenda Johnson’s right-hand man. Corey shared a lot about this upcoming season, the morality of his character and which episode resonated with him the most.

Check out our chat below and don’t forget to tune in to watch the The Closer premiere “Unknown Trouble” which airs tonight Monday July 11 at at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) on TNT.
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I have to be honest with you. I love ‘The Closer’.

Corey Reynolds: Oh, sweet. Well, you can always be honest about that. I thought you were going to say, ‘I have to be honest with you, I’ve never seen the show.’

If most TV shows were cancelled and I could only keep a few shows on, ‘The Closer’ would be on th elist.

Corey Reynolds: Well, thanks. It’s been a really good run for us, and we’re actually rapidly approaching our one hundredth episode and when I think back on what it’s taken to get there and what we’ve all experienced as characters within the show and as actors outside of the show, you really do grow like a family. It’s been a tremendous experience. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

What can we expect from this seventh and final season, and more specifically, from your character?

Corey Reynolds: Well, this season’s theme is love and loss which is apropos. We see a few different things from my character. One of the through lines for the season is a case regarding a gang-banger from last year named Terrell Baylor who as part of the decision that led to us releasing him led to his death. That’s something that’s carrying over. We’re all being investigated because of it. That’s one thing that’s going to carry through the entire season, and the whole squad is involved, but my character, Raymond Cruz’s character, Sanchez, and Brenda were the three officers that were in the car. It kind of divides us because I think there was some discrepancy within the characters as to how we should’ve handled that situation.

I do remember that episode. I was puzzled about that scene as well.

Corey Reynolds: Yeah, and that’s actually coming back this season in a big way. It creates quite a challenge for the squad to continue to function as a group the way that we have as we are all in the midst of some chaos caused by Chief Johnson at least according Terrell Baylor’s lawyer.

So, we’re all kind of looking at her tactics in different ways. My character has learned a lot from her in the sense that I think in the beginning he was very black and white as far as his take on things. What she introduced to him was the lovely land of grey. Unfortunately in this instance it comes back and creates some problems for us and that’s going to be a major storyline through the run of the season.

There’s something about Sgt. Gabriel that’s grounded in morality. How do you approach that complexity in a character?

Corey Reynolds: That’s a really interesting question, and it’s actually the first time I’ve been asked that question in seven seasons. I think any good actor will tell you that there’s certain aspects of themselves within a character, that for each character they portray there’s a certain percentage of them that lives somewhere in there.

I think for myself that moral compass thing is something that’s really innate to me outside of the character. So, it’s been a challenge to be the good guy, but not be Mr. Goody Two Shoes, to present the moral perspective, but at the exact same time to understand the ugliness of the world that we live in. If everything were perfect, we wouldn’t have the type of disasters and cruelty that we see from our fellow human beings.

I think that Gabriel has always had a part of him that’s very focused on doing the right thing, and what I think has changed in this time is his definition of the right thing. That’s a tricky line to walk because when you’re talking episodic procedural you can only allow so much of your character’s previous experiences to live in each episode. That’s only because you want to make sure that anyone who maybe tunes in and just sees that one or two, that they’re not lost on a bunch of things that a character’s referencing from the past.

That’s been something that’s been challenging as an actor as well because I remember every script. I remember every storyline. I remember every moment that my character has experienced and sometimes, honestly, we have to tone that down for the sake of storytelling. For instance, in some of the moments where in the past Gabriel has made certain decisions, without someone watching at home knowing what that decision was you can’t really reference it because then they’re left out in the dark. That’s been a bit of a challenge, to try to stay consistent while also staying individual to each episode. It’s a bigger challenge than I thought it would be as an actor.

If you could go back seven seasons to the beginning of the series, what advice would you give yourself?

Corey Reynolds: Brace yourself. It’s going to be a long one.’

Interestingly enough, when we were shooting the pilot, this was the first pilot that I ever booked and the first series that I had ever done, and I remember when we were filming the pilot I guess I was a little naive and I remember running around telling everyone, ‘This is great. We’re going to be on television,’ and being reminded, like, ‘Well, we’re shooting a pilot. We don’t know if we’re going to be on television, but we’re shooting a pilot.’ I was the only one in all the guys who was like, ‘This is kind of a no brainer. This show is going to get picked up,’ because that year I think I had tested for maybe five or six different pilots, and so I’d read a whole bunch of scripts just having moved out from New York.

The pilot for ‘The Closer’ really stood out, and to me it was clear that there was something really special about the storytelling, about what our show creator, James Duff, had created, about what Kyra [Sedgwick] had brought to the table as our lead and what the rest of us brought as a supporting ensemble. I’m proud to say that I was right. I remember G. W. [Bailey] pulling me aside and saying, ‘I’ve been doing this longer than you’ve been alive, and you know how many good shows don’t get picked up?’ That was kind of a sobering moment, but I’m proud to say that almost a hundred episodes later I was right.

I remind them of that all the time. I’m like, ‘Just remember that I was the rookie who knew that this was going to be something special.’ It’s kind of the same thing that I thought with ‘Hairspray’ in New York when I first heard the music and read the script. I knew instantly that it was going to be something special because quite honestly I can be critical of things creatively, and I found very little to be critical of on either one of those experiences. I knew that if I recognized that it had the potential to be something special, I figured that a lot of other people would to. I think averaging a little over seven million viewers a week I was right. So, I’ll take that one and put that hash mark over my head.

Over the years has there been an episode, a scene or a moment that still resonates with you today?

Corey Reynolds: Oh, absolutely. For me it would be ‘Ruby’. I think it was episode four, season three. That was kind of a game changer for me. It was the first time that my character really felt a personal to the case. I still carry that with me.

I remember when we were filming it back then the actor who played the villain in that episode was an actor by the name of Heath Freeman. We were at the table read and I remember telling him at the table read, like, ‘We’re not going to be buddies this episode.’ Needless to say he’s such a nice guy that we ended up being buddies that episode, but that was a really powerful moment.

It allowed me to tap into some parts of my performance that I had never experienced as an actor as well. The majority of my performance work has been in song and dance, in musical theater. So, this whole experience has been the first time where I worked a job that I didn’t have to rely on song and dance. It gave me an opportunity to really hone my skills as a straight actor as opposed to musical theater, straight actor in the sense of just acting.

Corey Reynolds: It’s been one of those things where I feel like I’ve been in college actually for the last one hundred episodes and Kyra is a professor that I’m learning a lot from.

There are rumors of a spin off for ‘The Closer’. Do you know if that’s happening?

Corey Reynolds: Well, the only thing that I can tell you in regards to a spin off, and I quote, ‘The idea of a new show is exciting, but there are not details yet.’ End quotes.

If there is a new show and the universe of the show lives on, would you be willing to reprise the role of Detective Gabriel?

Corey Reynolds: Quote. ‘There isn’t any news on casting as of yet.‘ End quote. They’re being very specific about that type of stuff. I hate to be so cheeky about it. We’re supposed to focus on season seven right now. You didn’t get me!

Last year we talked to you and you mentioned that you were shopping around a screenplay called ‘The Triple Nickel’. Any development there?

Corey Reynolds: It’s funny you say that. We did a reading of the script over at Rally Studios. I was able to get twenty two actors to come by the set and do a reading of the show and I was able to make some changes to the script, and what we’re doing right now is shopping a new version that’s going around.

I have some interest in some directions, but in Hollywood until something is something, it’s nothing. So, I’m hesitant to really get into that only because it’s still in the works, but it is something that I feel very strongly is going to come to fruition. I don’t know where your spiritual beliefs are, but I believe. I’ve never taken a singing, dancing, acting or writing lesson ever in my life and I don’t believe that I would’ve been given the tools that I was given if they weren’t put in my tool box to just be there.

So, I think as time moves on and as I continue to develop my web connections out here in Los Angeles and develop the trust of different producers, I think that’s something that’s absolutely going to come to fruition. I have a director in mind right now. So, he’s about to get a copy of the script and we’ll see what happens from there.

Is there a question you’ve been dying to give an answer to that nobody ever asks?

Corey Reynolds: That’s a very good question. I guess the one question would probably be something along the lines of why am I so awesome and I guess the answer would probably be that I was just born that way [laughs].

A few last words for the fans of The Closer

Corey Reynolds: Thanks for watching the show, and I think that the goal here for everyone is bow out gracefully and it’s not too often that you get a chance to wrap a series up the way that we have the opportunity to here. I think what we want to do is stay honest and true to the characters, to the world that we’ve worked so hard to create and to the fans that have supported us the entire way.

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Corey Reynolds