The Rookie and The Rookie: Feds stars Nathan Fillion and Niecy Nash interrogate each other

·22 min read

Where will you be on the night of Sunday, September 25, 2022 at 10 p.m.?

Hopefully, you'll be at home on your couch watching the season 5 premiere of The Rookie on ABC and anticipating the Sept. 27 premiere of new spin-off The Rookie: Feds. But as we prepare for these two series to hit our televisions, we want answers! So, we had some questions for the stars — Nathan Fillion and Niecy Nash. Or rather, they had some questions for each other.

Fillion returns for season 5 of The Rookie as LAPD officer John Nolan, who began his career as the force's oldest rookie, and is now at last, moving up to begin his dream of becoming a training officer (making him a rookie all over again).

Nash, for her part, becomes the face of the first The Rookie spin-off, The Rookie: Feds, reprising her role of Simone Clark, first introduced in a backdoor pilot on the flagship's fourth season. Like John, Simone is an older rookie, bringing her own way of doing things to the FBI.

Ahead of their season premieres, we brought Fillion and Nash together in the interrogation room of The Rookie: Feds to mug(shot) for the camera and grill each other about their shows, tease all the crossover potential there, and debate which of their previous characters is most likely to get arrested.

But first, quick, somebody get Nash a light to shine in Fillion's eyes!

THE ROOKIE: FEDS
THE ROOKIE: FEDS

ABC/Raymond Liu (2) Niecy Nash; Nathan Fillion

NIECY NASH: After you've done the show for so long, and then they say, "Hey Nathan, we want to do a spin-off of it. What was your first thought? And then what was your thought when you found out it was me?

NATHAN FILLION: First they say spin-off and you go, "Oh my God, that's such a great idea. We must be doing well if we're going to get a spin-off show." That's the up. Then there's a down. You go, "Wait a minute. Does that mean they're going to take one of our characters? They're going to break up this little troop of ours? Are they going to break someone off and they're going to spin that person off into another show? Who do we lose?" Then I started looking around at people like who do I want to lose? No, I didn't do that. But then I found out that we're not going to lose anybody. We're going to introduce a new character. And then we're going to spin them off into their own show. And I thought, "That's a great idea." And then, I found out it was going to be you. I've already met you and I already know what you're like, so you know how I feel about that.

NASH: The people don't know. Tell the people how you feel about it.

FILLION: I really enjoy Niecy. I get along really well with Niecy. And I like working with Niecy because Niecy does all the hard work.

NASH: Will I have to give you the 20 bucks now, or later?

FILLION: Later.

FILLION: Simone is unpredictable at best. But what could we predict? What can we expect from her?

NASH: We can always count on Simone to dance by the beat of her own drum. We can always count on her to trust her instinct and to always bet on herself.

FILLION: Is this going to be problematic in the FBI?

NASH: There's two ways of doing things. There's the FBI way and then there's the Simone Clark way. And they're not the same. You get a similar result at the end. She is textbook for, "There is more than one way to skin a cat."

NASH: John Nolan gets to become a training agent this season. Talk to me about how you felt about that. And what is that going to look like?

FILLION: Yes, John is going to be a training officer. Training officers were certainly a big part of the start of his career and how he started being a cop. It's the next logical development in his career. He wants to be a training officer because he wants to give back. Also, because he sees that there needs to be some changes in the department, and he wants to be a part of that change. He feels that's the best place he can do it. Thirdly, and probably the most important reason, is all the people that come up to me and go, "Hey, how long is Nolan going to be a rookie?" They're really concerned about whether or not he's a rookie. When you advance in your career and you're doing a new thing, you're automatically a rookie all over again. It's more of a metaphor, I guess.

NASH: Sure. It's the beginning of a new chapter in his life.

FILLION: He's a rookie training officer. It works for me.

NASH: Back at the bottom. Not the bottom, but the beginning. A new beginning.

FILLION: I thought you said "back on the bottle…"

NASH: I did not say that, but can we get a cocktail?

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Niecy Nash and Nathan Fillion

FILLION: In the beginning, John had to prove himself to those who are, let's say, skeptical of his age. Will Simone face similar challenges in Rookie: Feds?

NASH: The short answer to that question is, I don't know. I really don't know. I know that she was on her own personal beat-the-clock journey. You know what I mean? I got to get this done by a certain age in order to make the cut, to be able to graduate Quantico and live my dream. The ageism part of it hasn't really been addressed as of yet. But I know that she wouldn't fear it.

FILLION: I don't think Simone Clark has fears.

NASH: Not very many.

FILLION: Maybe still trepidatious with her dad.

NASH: That's probably the space in her life where she is the most cautious and the most tender, and the most I'm not sure how this is going to work out.

FILLION: The least amount of control?

NASH: Yeah, that's a perfect way to say it. That's the one place she has the least amount of control. And it's not even that she has control in the department that she works in. It's just that she has help. There's a beautiful team of people around her. She has her training agent. But when it comes to her and her father, that's a whole other thing to unpack.

NASH: Is it smooth sailing ahead for John and Bailey [Jenna Dewan] or will Simone be able to crash the party? I'm just asking because inquiring minds want to know.

FILLION: I want to know, is this an Entertainment Weekly question or is this a Niecy Nash question?

NASH: It doesn't matter. Do you have the answer?

FILLION: Things are going really well for John and Bailey right now. Things are going very smoothly. That's one part of his life right now that doesn't have a lot of turbulence. However, as we are all aware, if there's no turbulence, there's no drama, there's no story, there's no show. So, something has got to happen.

NASH: Okay. Well, I wouldn't think that Simone Clark is a home wrecker, but if somebody on your show broke up and was not in their situation anymore, I'm sure she would be —

FILLION: Simone would be there to pick up the pieces.

NASH: — like, "Oh, hello."

FILLION: Come cry on your shoulder.

NASH: The funny thing about Simone is that even though John Nolan is in his own relationship, in her mind, "Oh, he wants me."

FILLION: Well, I have a question here that says Simone thinks everyone she meets is into her. But I think more accurately, Simone can sense everyone she meets is into her. How will that play out for The Rookie: Feds this season?

NASH: Well, Simone is a lover.

FILLION: It's got to be a tough life to appeal to so many people.

NASH: That's where Simone and I intersect. Somebody has to do it. But how will it play out? Because she is a lover, she is a flirt, you will get to see her in different spaces and places. My guess is that someone is going to end up with the upper hand. Now, I don't know it to be a fact, but I feel like she leads in love in all the areas, but one day she's going to meet a match.

FILLION: Someone is going to throw her for a loop.

NASH: Yeah, because right now, all of her lovers are manageable. She's an equal opportunity lover.

FILLION: But suddenly the ground underneath her is?

NASH: I don't know. I just have a feeling.

FILLION: Okay. I like that. Because I want to see Simone in those situations where she's not entirely in control. I want to see her step back a little bit and go, "What do I do here?"

THE ROOKIE - “Double Down” – Officer John Nolan’s is once again face-to-face with serial killer Rosalind, and she wants him to know she’s not done with him yet. Meanwhile, officers Bradford and Chen work undercover with Detective Lopez and the Las Vegas Police Department to arrest leaders of a major criminal enterprise on the season premiere episode of “The Rookie,” SUNDAY, SEPT. 25 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (ABC/Raymond Liu) ERIC WINTER, MELISSA O'NEIL
THE ROOKIE - “Double Down” – Officer John Nolan’s is once again face-to-face with serial killer Rosalind, and she wants him to know she’s not done with him yet. Meanwhile, officers Bradford and Chen work undercover with Detective Lopez and the Las Vegas Police Department to arrest leaders of a major criminal enterprise on the season premiere episode of “The Rookie,” SUNDAY, SEPT. 25 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (ABC/Raymond Liu) ERIC WINTER, MELISSA O'NEIL

Raymond Liu/ABC Eric Winter and Melissa O'Neil on 'The Rookie'

NASH: How hard is it for both John and you, Nathan, shipping Chenford?

FILLION: Oh my gosh. Okay. I don't get really down into popcorn eating of my own show and get like, "Oh my God, what's going to happen?" I don't do that all the time. But I got to say the Tim [Eric Winter] and Lucy [Melissa O'Neil] stuff, the Chenford relationship, is one of those things where even if you were there on the day watching them film it, you're never going to get that story that cameras can tell when they get in real tight. Add on the edit, the music, there is so much happening there. It gets a little steamy at times. You're going, "How are they going to explain this to everybody?" You start getting riled up. You really do. I have a really good time with that. I don't think John cares. He hasn't really noticed what's going on on the side. These two have been pretty sneaky. Maybe people close to them are starting to notice some stuff, but John is so clueless right now.

NASH: With the crossover episodes,  it seems as though everyone who has come over to our set is really excited about it, being able to play in both of these worlds. How do you and the cast over there really feel about it? Because maybe y'all are just on your best behavior when you come over to our house.

FILLION: It's kind of like a field trip. It's kind of like, "Oh, I got to go to school today, but I get to go do this other thing that's so different than what I normally do."

NASH: Let me tell you something. There's a whole lot of jealousy going on, if we want to unpack it, for the people.

FILLION: Really?

NASH: Listen, because once one person went from our cast, everybody started to be like, "Well, are you going? They didn't ask me if I want to go."

FILLION: That was Richard [T. Jones], wasn't it?

NASH: Yeah, it was Richard. It was Richard, Followed by then me, to be honest with you, I was like, everybody wants to go play on The Rookie. I want to go. But I did have my chance.

FILLION: You did. You started on The Rookie.

NASH: I wasn't a big deal yet when I was over there the last time.

FILLION: It's pretty special over here though. Your sets are incredible. When I heard on the Rookie, "Oh, we don't have the money for that," I thought, "Well, where did it all go?" And now we know.

NASH: We have to do a crossover episode where maybe you get to come on our private jet.

FILLION: You guys are going to be on the jet, you're going to be going over some papers and talking about stuff, and then out the window, I'm going to be... [Fillion waves].

FILLION: Who is Simone's best advocate and greatest challenge?

NASH: Her best advocate is probably Brendon [Kevin Zegers] because they went to the Academy together. They always encourage each other, always support each other, are always there for each other. On the other side of that, my training agent, Carter Hope, who's played by the lovely James Lesure, is cracking that whip down on me and definitely wants Simone to be a proper agent.

FILLION: He's trying to fit her into a mold. But that's not her style. It's not her personality.

NASH: No. And they're starting to warm to the idea that this girl is just going to be her own thing. But I will tell you something that most people watching the series would never guess. When you watch our show, the character who is the most tight, who is the most by the book, who colors within the lines, that's Laura Stenson played by Britt Robertson, but she is the exact opposite off set. She's our wild card. She's our wild baby. It's like, "Oh, Britt, where's the party? And we are going to follow you right to it when we are off camera." True story.

NASH: Oh, I wanted to ask you about whether or not you guys will have any of your favorite guest actors come back this season?

FILLION: Yes. We have someone coming back right off the top. I don't think I'm allowed to say, but we have a couple of really bad people that we've dealt with in the past who are going to come around again. Which is something I love to do because it lends reality to the universe. Another thing that I think having a spin-off does is it broadens and expands the universe. When we start criss-crossing over to the show, it just lends truth to the idea that it's a place where it's all happening. I get that feeling of realism. And when you bring back characters, I get that feeling of, "They live in that world. That's where they are. If you want to see them, that's where you got to go."

NASH: Well, we don't have anybody to bring back because we just getting up and going. You're a crossover. But I am so excited about some of the guest cast that we have coming. I can't tip my hand and say the who, what, and the when. But I'm so excited.

FILLION: I have a question for you.

NASH: I want answers! [Slams hands on table]

FILLON: That was so… interrogating.

NASH: I know. I did good, right?

THE ROOKIE - “Double Down” – Officer John Nolan’s is once again face-to-face with serial killer Rosalind, and she wants him to know she’s not done with him yet. Meanwhile, officers Bradford and Chen work undercover with Detective Lopez and the Las Vegas Police Department to arrest leaders of a major criminal enterprise on the season premiere episode of “The Rookie,” SUNDAY, SEPT. 25 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (ABC/Raymond Liu) NATHAN FILLION
THE ROOKIE - “Double Down” – Officer John Nolan’s is once again face-to-face with serial killer Rosalind, and she wants him to know she’s not done with him yet. Meanwhile, officers Bradford and Chen work undercover with Detective Lopez and the Las Vegas Police Department to arrest leaders of a major criminal enterprise on the season premiere episode of “The Rookie,” SUNDAY, SEPT. 25 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (ABC/Raymond Liu) NATHAN FILLION

Raymond Liu/ABC Nathan Fillion on 'The Rookie'

FILLION: Sometimes we are called upon to do a little stunt stuff, a little action. What's been the most difficult stunt you've had to do so far?

NASH: To be honest with you, nothing is more difficult than filming in whatever fresh hell this heat provided when we started filming.

FILLION: It's hot.

NASH: That felt like a stunt. How long are we going to stand down here in this heat and just try to act like we're cool?

FILLION: It's hard to pretend you're not sweating.

NASH: It's hard. Yeah. But I would say my hardest stunt was running in a wedding dress. And I was just like, "Why did we think this was going to be a good idea?" But that was the stunt. Kick open the door, have your gun drawn, chase the bad guys, and shoot a helicopter down. Oh, and do it in a wedding dress. And not a wedding dress and sneakers, a wedding dress —

FILLION: And heels.

NASH: — with real wedding heels.

FILLION: Because that's how they fit you to it. If they put you in sneakers, the dress would be too low to the ground.

NASH: There you go. You work in costumes too?

FILLION: I do a little sewing on the side.

NASH: Well, what was your hardest stunt?

FILLION: Listen, when they say, "All we got to do is run this little distance." But then you have to do it like 14 times because that's how many angles and takes and all that kind of stuff you have to do. Sometimes, my right knee just gets a little [messed up], and then that's it.

NASH: But you don't run cute. I saw you run before.

FILLION: Yeah, I run like I'm on fire. I don't love running. I'm built for comfort, not for speed.

NASH: You're a man after my own heart.

FILLION: I'll say the most difficult thing I have to do lately is speed in a car around a corner, whip down this street, and then land right here, so that your face is right here. Trying to hit a mark in a car, it's tough.

NASH: I want to know who's better at solving crime — John Nolan or Rick Castle?

FILLION: Good question. Rick Castle, he has really bizarre, terrible theories. His theories are always so far out there, but he eventually gets the guy always. And then John Nolan, he just has more crime versus murders. I'm going to say just by sheer number, John. But I'm going to say Rick Castle probably has solved far more murders though.

NASH: And who's cuter?

FILLION: Simone Clark.

FILLION: As far as wild cards go, as far as people you would want to spend your time with, would you pick Simone Clark or Desna from Claws? Those are two powerful personalities.

NASH: It's hard. I would pick Simone. Even though I feel like with Desna, whatever she comes with, my nails are going to look fantastic. I would pick Simone because she's a little more settled and she's on the right side of the law. If something went down, I would feel a little more protected even though Desna is a bad girl. You know what I mean? But if I'm rolling with her, anything is likely to happen.

FILLION: Someone is getting arrested.

NASH: And it might be me.

FILLION: I can see that. I would also pick Simone, but I think that's because me and Simone go way back, and I'm pretty invested.

THE ROOKIE - “Double Down” – Officer John Nolan’s is once again face-to-face with serial killer Rosalind, and she wants him to know she’s not done with him yet. Meanwhile, officers Bradford and Chen work undercover with Detective Lopez and the Las Vegas Police Department to arrest leaders of a major criminal enterprise on the season premiere episode of “The Rookie,” SUNDAY, SEPT. 25 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (ABC/Raymond Liu) K B HOLLAND, ERIC WINTER
THE ROOKIE - “Double Down” – Officer John Nolan’s is once again face-to-face with serial killer Rosalind, and she wants him to know she’s not done with him yet. Meanwhile, officers Bradford and Chen work undercover with Detective Lopez and the Las Vegas Police Department to arrest leaders of a major criminal enterprise on the season premiere episode of “The Rookie,” SUNDAY, SEPT. 25 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (ABC/Raymond Liu) K B HOLLAND, ERIC WINTER

Raymond Liu/ABC KB Holland and Eric Winter on 'The Rookie'

NASH: Okay, this is going to be a rapid-fire round. Hold onto your hats. Get ready. Don't overthink it. Say the first thing that comes to mind. Here you go. What is a wacky or wild version of a crossover between the shows that would be unlikely, but would be a dream of yours?

FILLION: Both casts wind up on Family Feud, and we have to compete against each other.

NASH: I thought you were going to say at a strip club, but I like your idea.

FILLION: Who is the most focused and intense on your set?

NASH: James Lesure. He's very focused. And as a matter of fact, if we sit around in a group, he's going to be the one that's going to get up and click off. I don't know what he does when he clicks off, but I would imagine he's somewhere being focused.

NASH: Both of our shows are dramas with moments of levity. Who on your set breaks the most?

FILLION: Richard! Richard T. Jones. But you know what? Here's the thing. It's also true of Richard in real life. He's just an easy laugh.

NASH: I was just getting ready to say, but he is also one who is never going to be cheated on the laugh. If you hear it, you will know it's him laughing.

FILLION: Who do you ship your character with the most? Who would you like to see your character in a romantic relationship with the most on your show?

NASH: None of them. I want all my lovers to be outside the work. I don't want to complicate things. At some point, it might create a lovely, delicious drama. But at the outset, I can't think of anyone… but they all think about me like that.

FILLION: Of course they do. They all have diaries with your name written over and over in hearts and stuff.

NASH: Somebody's got to do it.

NASH: Have you ever improvised a line that made it in? If so, can you name it?

FILLION: Yes. Often, I will, at the end of a scene, say something to entertain whoever it is in the scene with me. And sometimes yes, it actually ends up in the show. One I'm thinking about right now was the scene was done, I walked off camera and said, "I saw you roll your eyes at me." And it was something someone did. And it did make it to the show.

NASH: I love that.

THE ROOKIE: FEDS
THE ROOKIE: FEDS

ABC/Raymond Liu Niecy Nash on 'The Rookie: Feds'

FILLION: What's your favorite episode so far? It's okay if you want to say the ones with me that you starred in on The Rookie.

NASH: Those are actually my least favorite. No, my favorite by far is — I have a big fondness for our Thanksgiving episode.

FILLION: Why?

NASH: Because some family is family you're born into, and some family is family you choose. And I love seeing that play out.

NASH: What is your least favorite episode so far?

FILLION: Oh my gosh. Okay. And not because it was a bad episode. It was a fantastic episode. But there was an episode where I was being hunted by a serial killer. And we did it in a flour factory. It was four days of stunts and running and rolling around in dirt and flour. They didn't clean it when they were finished with it, so we just used it as is. And there was a lot of flour around it. And it gets in every crack and crevice and in places where you don't think flour should be. And now you got a paste, and then it turns into a cast. Now you got to get to a doctor to pull your cast off.

FILLION: If you can cross over to any third show of your choosing, what would it be?

NASH: Simone Clark would go on a trip to Miami and end up with the ladies from Issa Rae's Rap Shit. One of them on the show is committing a crime. Maybe there's some federal things happening and I'm like, "Girl." I got the whole storyline. She thinks because we look alike that I'm going to help her out and cut her a break.

FILLION: But that's not true.

NASH: I'm like, "Girl, please. Put your hands in these bracelets. We're taking you to jail."

FILLION: I would say for me, House of the Dragon. John Nolan looking around the castle going, "I don't think I should be here."

FILLION: Of the former roles you played, who would be the most likely to be arrested by Simone or John?

NASH: Well, an obvious answer might be Desna, who I played in Claws, but the chances are equally as high that it could be Raineesha from Reno 911!.

FILLION: Why? She's a police officer. Is she a dirty cop? Or just a bad one?

NASH: Just a bad one.

FILLION: Who is your dream guest star?

NASH: I would have to say Oprah.

FILLION: Do you have a role in mind for her? Is she playing herself?

NASH: No, she would definitely be a character. I want her to be a criminal though. She plays a lot of safe characters and martyrs and those sorts of things. I want to take her to the dark side. Come over to the dark side, Oprah!

FILLION: My dream is to pull people from every job I've ever done and have them guest on The Rookie — that meta stuff really excites me. I've had a couple of people on here from Firefly. I've had a couple of people on from Castle. I'd like to do a circle back to the beginning of my career, One Life to Live.

NASH: In that case, if I did that, if I went back to my other shows, I definitely would want Cedric the Entertainer to come. I played his wife. I would definitely want Jim Dangle, who has the little shorts on Reno 911! to come.

FILLION: One of my earliest projects was Saving Private Ryan. I did a very small scene with Tom Hanks. I'd love to call him up and say, "Hey, man. I did a scene with you. When are you going to come do one with me?"

NASH: He's probably not doing nothing. He's probably sitting around.

FILLION: He's between Oscars right now.

NASH: He'd probably be glad to have the phone ring, "Tommy, there's somebody looking for you."

FILLION: Remember me?

NASH: He probably doesn't, so don't lead with that.

Make sure to check out EW's Fall TV Preview cover story — as well as all of our 2022 Fall TV Preview content, releasing over 22 days through Sept. 29.

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