With Major Crimes now in its fourth season, accomplished actor Tony Denison has been playing the part of Lieutenant Andy Flynn for more than eleven seasons over the past decade.
Across seven seasons on The Closer, Flynn went through his own arc, beginning as an adversary before becoming a trusted member of the Major Crimes Division. Alongside the yearly comedic Flynn & Provenza outings, there were also stand out episodes along the way, which shone a light on Flynn’s battle with alcoholism, not to mention his combat skills when he was viciously attacked following an AA meeting.
But it is on these past three seasons of Major Crimes – which is more of an ensemble than The Closer – that the character has flourished with more Flynn centric episodes, especially last season’s ‘Leap Of Faith’ in which Flynn was instrumental in preventing a suicide on a highway overpass. Another element that Major Crimes has not been afraid to touch upon is his personal life, with the introduction of his daughter Nicole (Torrey DeVitto)
With that foundation, season four of Major Crimes is set to be the biggest yet for Lieutenant Flynn; as a potential relationship with Captain Sharon Raydor finally blossoms, he works closely with Rusty on the Alice Herrera case, and, as James Duff revealed last week, he is set to get “hurt very badly” in the Winter episodes of the new season (which are currently in production).
As part of our continuing feature series on Major Crimes for the UK premiere of season four on Universal Channel, TVWise recently spoke to Tony Denison about how the character has changed over the past eleven seasons, what’s in store with the ‘Shandy’ relationship, and just what James Duff meant when he said Flynn was set for a major injury in the upcoming episodes.
TVWise: You’ve been playing this character for eleven seasons now, how do you think Lt Flynn has changed since the pilot of The Closer?
Tony Denison: My character has changed in a lot of ways because when he first started on the show he was an adversary to Brenda Leigh Johnson and then they decided that they wanted me to be a member of the squad. My character is very loyal and the kind of person who will watch someone’s back, especially a friend, so they set up a scenario where Brenda Leigh Johnson proved her loyalty to him and also that she was ready to watch his back. [Flynn] became very trusting of her and that led to the next six years of the show where I was considered part of her team. Now in the last four years, under the banner of Major Crimes, it’s been pretty much the same. There is a developing relationship between my character and Mary McDonnell’s character which has been fun to do and the audience seems to really enjoy it.
TVWise: As you say, there’s this potential relationship between Sharon and Andy which the fans have dubbed ‘Shandy’. Can you tease what’s in store as far as that storyline goes?
Tony Denison: Certainly, every year, there’s going to be more tension applied to that relationship, but in terms of anything salacious or anything that I can say that’s going to happen, I’m not allowed to say. If I say it then I’m going to get in trouble with my producers [laughs]. No matter what’s ahead it’s going to be good, because they are good writers. But I really don’t know what they’re writing. All I will say is there’s a lot of good stuff coming down the road for Sharon and Andy.
TVWise: How does this romance effect Andy’s relationship with Rusty?
Tony Denison: Rusty always had a really good relationship with the guys and Sharon and Sykes and the rest of the squad. [Flynn and Rusty] always had that bond because I was one of the adoptee uncles. But again, because Rusty has a lot of abandonment issues, he’s become very protective of the relationship he has with Sharon as his adoptive mother. What’s happening now with Graham [Patrick Martin]’s character and my character is that we’re starting to feel each out on a different level. Instead of Lieutenant Flynn, it’s Andy Flynn who’s wanting to date his mother.
TVWise: More so than anyone else, Flynn is very hesitant to have Detective Sanchez (Raymond Cruz) re-join the squad in the season premiere, why is that?
Tony Denison: [Flynn] is thinking he is protecting Sharon because Sanchez might create problems for her because of his temper. So what my character is trying to do is be the intermediary to have her back and watch Sanchez so that he doesn’t go completely off the deep end because of the ghosts that are haunting him from his past. That actually is instrumental in allowing the relationship between Andy and Sharon to progress, because then they start having a conversation about ‘Well, what is it we’ve got going on here?’ and then they take it from there.
TVWise: On the Sanchez issue, we’ve seen different Detectives lose it over the years. Is there a line Flynn wouldn’t cross?
Tony Denison: I’ve described Flynn before as a guy who will go right up to the line. There are people who think the ends justify the means, not to say that Sanchez is one, but a lot of times you’ll find certain people in different movies and TV series who’ll go right up to the line of ‘the ends justify the means’. That’s what Flynn does and that’s what Sanchez does too. We go up to that point and we don’t really cross over it, but both of us sort of lean over it a lot of times. That’s also something that can cause difficulty; it can cause a lot of hardship in a police officer’s life. They may not cross the line but sometimes when you lean over it all day long it could become unnerving. The other thing is when you keep doing that and you don’t cross it, then there’s this whole ‘what do I do now? What do I do now?’ At the end of the day cops are human beings too and they are dealing with human tragedy and it’s problematic. They are made of flesh and blood just like everyone else.
TVWise: James Duff recently told me that your character gets “hurt very badly” and that is used as something of a window into how Flynn’s mind works. Can you talk about that?
Tony Denison: I can’t talk about the particulars, but in the next eight episodes you’re going to see some action. Not that Flynn is going to become an action hero, but there is going to be a lot of action and it has consequences. There was an episode of The Closer years ago where Flynn gets in a horrific knife fight, which was the longest free-style combat scene in television. It was a minute and four seconds long, which is a Bourne Identity kind of fight [laughs] and it was the longest fight scene, I think, on a TV series; just two guys in single handed combat and it was fun to do. So like that, things are going to be more physical for Flynn this year, which is great!
TVWise: What else is in store for Flynn in the first ten episodes?
Tony Denison: The dating that is going to be going on with Sharon is very important. That’s going to be going on as well as the reaction from Provenza [laughs]. Him looking at Flynn is… you know they are like The Odd Couple, Flynn and Provenza. They definitely love one another, they’re really dear close friends, but they have this oil and water relationship. It’s fun to watch them try to mix together in certain situations and he’s always finding things to needle Flynn about, and vice versa. There’s a lot of laughter that’s going to be happening, the dating is going to be happening, there’s some old cases that Flynn helps out on with Rusty and there’s some really clever and thought provoking episodes coming down the pike for the fourth season of Major Crimes.
TVWise: One of the highlights of the show, dating back to when it was The Closer, has been the Flynn & Provenza episodes. Can you talk about this season’s episodes?
Tony Denison: Yeah, there’ll be some Flynn & Provenza episodes this year, in both the episodes you are about to watch and there’s going to be some more for the back eight as well. There’s some really fun things that G.W. and I did in the first ten episodes of season four and then there’s some funny stuff we’re going to do in the second half of season four. I think they’re going to put more and more of that in again, because the writers really enjoy writing it, as well as G.W. and I enjoy playing it. There’s a really funny episode coming up where Buzz Watson is studying to be a reserve officer. I go out on a ride along with him and Provenza; it’s a really funny episode.
TVWise: Alongside lighter episodes there are also some tougher ones, usually involving kids, are they hard to do?
Tony Denison: Yes. Even though the set is the set and nobody is actually really dead and it’s not real blood, when it’s recreated… when you show up on a crime scene on the show, it’s unnerving. You look at the stuff and you think ‘Oh, man’. And that what I think Mike Bertram [co-executive producer and former LAPD Detective] meant when he said you must find a way when you leave those scenes to laugh, to do something to lighten your mood because this is what you see all the live-long day. It takes its toll on you. Unless you’re devoid of a conscience I don’t know how you can’t be effected by this stuff in a really horrific way.
TVWise: Last season you had a big episode with the jumper on the bridge…
Tony Denison: That was great, it was a great episode. It was scary because we really were shooting on a highway overpass for most of it. It just made me think about what gets a person to that place. The thing that was great about the episode is that you get to go backwards and find out what brought that person to the bridge in the first place and how Flynn was able to prevent it. It’s great stuff to play as an actor.
Major Crimes season four airs in the UK on Universal Channel on Monday nights at 9pm.