Article taken from New York Post
There’s a new closer in town. She’s diligent, brusque and tough — maybe too tough.
After Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson’s last case is filed next month, she’ll be succeeded by the cold, meddling thorn in her side, Capt. Sharon Raydor, played by Mary McDonnell, on “Major Crimes,” the “Closer” spinoff that premieres on TNT Aug. 13.
Series creator James Duff knows “Closer” fans are split on Raydor’s likability. He hopes viewers will be patient.
“The first year of ‘The Closer’ a lot of people just hated Brenda. My own attorney called after the third episode and said, ‘I just don’t know if I like her,’’’ he says. “Then he called the next week and goes, ‘She’s growing on me a little bit.’ That’s what happened — people grew to like her.”
McDonnell empathizes with non-committal “Closer” viewers. “They don’t really understand how this is going to happen. We loved hating her! Now what are we going to do?” she says, laughing. “I think that’s part of the fun of being a fan.”
Even McDonnell wasn’t initially thrilled with the role; she turned it down, in 2009.
“Yeah, she did — she said no!” Duff says. “She said the character is too tough. So we sat down and sort of went over it, made it more interesting to her.” In turn, Raydor “flamed things up a little bit,” McDonnell jokes.
And while “Closer” viewers know all about Johnson’s Southern belle past, by contrast there’s been no Raydor back story.
“Don’t worry, fans — you will absolutely get a deeper insight and ability to judge her,” says McDonnell, 60. It turns out Raydor is a married but separated mother of two who will also raise a foster child.
McDonnell says she isn’t nervous about doing a spinoff, though she admits it “is a big risk, always.”
In some ways, the show will play it safe, keeping most of the “Closer” cast (Corey Reynolds and J.K. Simmons have left) and the same set. There will be two new cast members.
“I hate change — most people do. But growth depends on shaking up that routine,” Duff says. “And Mary shakes it up. It’s a new paradigm.”