The cast of "NYPD Blue" gets a new boss every week, in the form of a guest director. How does a cast member get the most out of a new director without sacrificing his character's credibility? James McDaniel, who portrays Lieutenant Fancy, provides some answers.
Put your ego on hold and adapt to a leader's style.
"We all get excited when Kathy Bates comes on to direct an episode because she's an actor and she speaks the same language as we do. The tough part comes when you must work with a director whose approach differs from yours. You need to read their style and act accordingly."
If you've got a problem with a new leader, discuss it first with those who you trust.
"We're a sociable cast, and when a problem arises we talk about it among ourselves. That's the best way to get a clear picture of what's really going on. We've done the show long enough to know the rhythms of the scenes and the responses that the characters should have to various situations."
If you think you're right, say you're right.
"When a problem arises with a director, you've first got to try and figure out why things aren't working. Good directors won't insist on doing it their way no matter what. But if they do, you've got to show that you're in control of your character. If you don't, you create a sick organization where everything comes out looking the same because the same people are influencing how it should be. You don't want to ride the same old horse and beat it into the ground. You've got to keep making it new."
Coordinates: "NYPD Blue" airs at 10 PM (EST) Tuesdays on ABC.
A version of this article appeared in the October/November 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.