Police Procedure: Interview with Motive's Roger Cross

By , Contributor

Bell Media/CTV

Roger Cross as Staff Sergeant Boyd Bloom in Motive

None of us can predict our future, and you never know when someone from the past will affect that future. The latter was certainly the case when it came to actor Roger Cross booking his current job playing Staff Sergeant Boyd Bloom in the new CTV police procedural drama Motive.

“I had worked before with Daniel Cerone [Motive creator/executive producer/writer], who is perhaps best known for his work on Dexter and most recently The Mentalist,” recalls Cross. “I also worked with [Motive producer] Rob LaBelle on First Wave a long time ago. What happened in this case was, I was in Vancouver having just finished shooting the TV show Continuum, and Arrow had been picked up as a series, so I’d begun working on that.

“I guess the people on Motive were having a difficult time finding the right person to play Boyd Bloom. When they found out I was in town, they gave my agent a call, and Rob phoned me to talk about the part. I explained that I was still under contract to Continuum and would have to go back to that if it went for a second season. I was also on Arrow, so things could get a bit tricky schedule-wise, but they told me, ‘Come do Motive. We’ll work things out and it won’t be a heavy burden on the show.’

“After reading the first script and knowing who was going to be involved, I couldn’t say no. Then I was told about the show’s concept, which I thought was very refreshing and kind of different, but would also be tricky to pull off on a regular basis. However, if anyone can handle it, it’s Daniel Cerone. He’s a brilliant writer and I knew the [creative] team he’d assemble would be terrific. So I thought, ‘Well, let’s give it whirl,’ and here we are.”

While there are a plethora of police procedurals currently on TV, Motive puts a different spin on the genre. Each episode not only follows a team of officers, led by Detective Angie Flynn (Kristin Lehman) and under the command of Sergeant Bloom, as they investigate the crime, but those watching also get an insight into the killer as well as his or her victim. Cross is hoping that this variation on a theme helps grab and hold the audience’s attention.

“I can’t give too much away, but one of the things I found most interesting about Motive is that it looks at the shades of grey,” notes the actor. “It doesn’t just say, ‘This person is a villain because they’re a villain.’ In fact, things happen, circumstances happen, and this person ended up committing a pretty heinous crime, but it’s not as if they they’re a career criminal or anything like that.

“They [the writers] take an ordinary individual, put him or her in extraordinary circumstances, and see how they respond. So you can look at that and think, ‘How would I respond in that situation? Would I be driven to do that or would I take the “higher road,”’ etc. So it’s your classic whodunit, but in this case you know who the killer as well as the victim is. That’s something else I like about this show; with each new script you have two people — the killer and the victim — who are, generally speaking, from two different worlds. You wonder how the writers are going to tie these two together, to the point where a murder is committed. It’s very cleverly done and as an actor it’s always good to be part of a cleverly written show.”

Just like the detectives now under his command, Boyd Bloom used to be out in the field risking his life. However, those days ended when the sergeant was shot and wounded on the job. He may not be the “action man” he once was, but that does not mean Bloom is any less involved in each case and making sure he and his people do their best to bring the guilty party to justice.

“Boyd is like a teacher or mentor who is trying to get everyone to work together and use all their strengths to solve the various crimes,” says Cross. “When, for example, you put a basketball team together, you’ve got to put your shooting guard with your point guard and with your center guard. That’s what my character has done with these guys; he’s put together a good team that he feels will get the job done.

“The closest I’ve come to playing someone like this was on The Guard, although in that show, my character wasn’t much of a teacher. He was just a ball-buster. So that’s what was especially appealing to me about Boyd on Motive, who is, again, like a mentor who has also been in his fellow detectives’ shoes. This character is so different from the Travis Verta role I’m playing on Continuum and Detective Hilton on Arrow, so it’s a lot of fun for me.”

What has it been like for Cross working with the rest of the Motive cast?” It’s been great,” he enthuses. “We have a group of very talented actors who have signed onboard to make a very interesting show. We’re a real team, and if something isn’t working, we’ll work it out together, which is great. These guys are good people, too, so we can also hang out together after work, which is nice to be able to do.”

Over on the hit CW series Arrow, Cross’ character of Detective Lucas Hilton is teamed up with Detective Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorn). The two men are trying to track down and apprehend a hooded do-gooder, Arrow (played by Stephen Amell), who has taken it upon himself to fight crime and corruption in fictional Starling City. Although they are partners and on the same side, Hilton and Lance have differing opinions as far as what Arrow is doing.

“Arrow is a modern day Robin Hood, and the thing about Lance is that he has absolutely no tolerance for this vigilante,” explains Cross. “He wants to get this guy no matter what. Hilton, on the other hand, looks at it as he’s helping us do our job. This Arrow guy is doing what we would love to do; we wish we could go in there, grab these criminals we’ve been chasing for years, get them to tell us the truth and then throw them in jail. OK, maybe he needs to be curtailed a little bit, but maybe it’s also not so bad to help him out every now and then.

“My character understands Quentin’s passion as well as reasons for wanting to catch this guy, but at the same time, he’s trying to get him to lighten up a bit. Hilton agrees with Quentin that there’s a right way and a wrong way of doing everything, but Arrow’s way seems to be much more effective right now.”

At the time of this interview (mid-January), Cross was getting ready to spend a couple of days filming his next Motive episode before putting back on his time traveling boots and reprising his role of superhuman terrorist Travis Verta in season two of Continuum.

“We just started prep for season two of Continuum,” he says. “I love the Travis character and I’m looking forward to playing him again."

Motive airs Sundays at 9:00 p.m. EST/PST on Canada's CTV Network. Please note, all Motive photos courtesy and copyright of Bell Media/CTV.

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A native of Massachusetts, Steve Eramo has been a Sci-Fi fan since childhood, having been brought up on such TV shows as Star Trek and Space: 1999. He is also an Anglophile and lover of British TV. A writer for 35 years – 17 of those as a fulltime freelancer – Steve has had over 2,500 feature-length…

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