“What’s been fun about doing Training Day is that it’s a complete departure from the movie,” Bill Paxton told Yahoo TV when he and co-star Justin Cornwell joined us in our Los Angeles studios to chat about their new series. And it’s true — other than the film’s title and the pairing of a veteran police officer with a younger one — that the CBS drama bears little resemblance to the 2001 film that starred Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke.
Aside from being a departure from the film from which it’s adapted, Paxton is happy to admit that Training Day hardly resembles the everyday life of police officers. “It’s a heightened reality,” Paxton said. “Our characters see so much action in one episode. There’s probably more action than the normal situation would be in years or a lifetime, perhaps. Also, if we were involved in that much gunplay, we would probably suspended until further notice.” “Or dead,” Cornwell chimed in. “But, I mean, that doesn’t make for exciting television,” Paxton added.
Paxton is perhaps best known for his work in films like Titanic, Apollo 13, and Twister, but the Texas-born actor is no stranger to television. He starred for five seasons on the award-winning HBO drama Big Love and in 2014 guest-starred as a Hydra double agent on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Paxton’s character on S.H.I.E.L.D. was a morally dubious character who developed a father-like relationship with Brett Dalton’s Grant Ward. Training Day sees Paxton in a somewhat familiar role, and he enjoys that. “I love the relationship our characters have,” Paxton said. “There is kind of a father-son thing. We have a cool history in the show. His dad was my partner and best friend. He was killed under weird circumstances — it’s kind of the long arc of the season.”
Paxton made it clear how impressed he was with his young co-star. A relative newcomer to the industry, Cornwell studied acting in Chicago before landing guest parts on two shows that film there — Empire and Chicago P.D. This is the 28-year-old actor’s first leading role. “I couldn’t have gotten luckier because I really have enjoyed working with Justin,” Paxton said.
Working with a veteran of the screen like Paxton has been a boon for Cornwell. “What I’ve learned from Bill is to just keep bringing that great energy, and keep that energy up,” he said. “I’m the kind of actor who wants to go inside of himself and find all the answers cerebrally, but sometimes you need to be with everything that’s going on. He’s teaching me how to stay in it.”
“Be willing to crash and burn, man,” Paxton added. “Crash and burn.”
Training Day airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on CBS.
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