Machismo, Murder, and Makeovers: A Day on the 'Ironside' Set With Blair Underwood
Spend any amount of time on the dimly lit precinct set of "Ironside," a gritty NBC reboot of the late-'60s Raymond Burr police drama, and it's immediately clear that the cast is gelling.
Inside jokes abound; flubs like Neal Bledsoe (Teddy) ironically kicking a floor light while delivering the line "Do you think I can handle it?" are met with gentle ribbing; house remodeling and children are discussed between takes. Spencer Grammer (Holly) admits that she's got a prank in the works; and just a day earlier than our visit to the Universal Studios Lot soundstages in Los Angeles, Blair Underwood (Robert Ironside) was surprised with cupcakes to celebrate his 49th birthday. Despite only being on Episode 6, there's even a well-established tradition that everyone claps when the visiting director decides they've nailed a scene and can move on to the next.
"You always get nervous when you start a new series because you never know how it's going to shake out, if everyone will get along. But from the pilot we all just clicked. This was a very easy adjustment," explained Grammer, who even let Bledsoe crash at her house for three weeks while he relocated from his "Smash" stint in New York. "We were instant friends. We have similar intensity levels and philosophies on how we approach acting."
Watch the "Ironside" trailer:
Everyone credits the smooth sailing on set to Underwood, the TV veteran behind the titular character, a play-by-his-own-rules type who refuses to let being confined to a wheelchair slow him down. "Blair's always grounded, dedicated, and prepared. He brings consistency every day," Bledsoe said. "We have a good time and we joke around, but the work always comes first. People keep asking how it's going, and the first thing that always comes to mind is how professional it all seems. There's such a respect for the job here. I feel like I got promoted from Triple-A to the major league."
Executive producer Ken Sanzel added, "The show already feels very finished and strong, and much of that stems from having a No. 1 on the call sheet who is a true leader. Blair sets a really positive tone and is there to lead the charge."
[Related: A Paraplegic Viewer Reviews NBC's 'Ironside']