‘Shots Fired’: Stephen Moyer and Tristan Mack Wilds on Preparing to Play Cops

Alex Logan

Tristan Mack Wilds and Stephen Moyer are acutely aware of the tense environment that police officers operate in on a daily basis, and they understand that those feelings of apprehension a two-way street. “My experience of police officers is that if somebody came up to me, I immediately thought I’d done something wrong, sometimes I had,” Moyer explained to Yahoo during the Television Critics Association in January. “But there’s a sense of trying to dispel that, of trying to make people feel good.”

On the series, the former True Blood star plays Lt. Calvert Breeland, a small-town North Carolina cop who believes profiling works, but that belief will be put to the test when a black officer, Sheriff’s Deputy Joshua Beck (Wilds), shoots a white teen. To fully understand their characters, both actors spent time shadowing real police officers; Wilds spent time with the NYPD, and he felt the experience gave him the chance to see the world “through the eyes of the everyday cop.” What struck him by the meeting was the “sense of camaraderie between them and other officers. As soon as another officer rolled by, and they see us pulled over with the lights on, they pull up, and it’s an instant, ‘You good? You need us here?’” Wilds was particularly struck by the fact that “everything was brotherhood with them, and sisterhood as well.”

WATCH: ‘Shots Fired’ Is Entertainment That Is Actually About Something Very Heavy & Timely

Wilds and Moyer know that Shots Fired is at its root “entertainment,” but they hope the show can do more than just entertain. “[Creators] Reggie [Rock Bythewood] and Gina [Price-Bythewood] have created a show that is about something,” Moyer said. “But we’re not lofty enough to think that we’re going to make a difference in the world, but it’s nice to open the portal for the question to be asked.” And Wilds agrees that the “pertinent and timely mystery story” will definitely start a conversation about the difficult relationship between black, white and blue in this country.

Shots Fired premieres on Wednesday, March 22nd at 8 p.m on Fox.

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