She may not be boiling bunnies or skinning Dalmatians, but you still don't want to mess with Glenn Close in her new role on FX's gripping cop show "The Shield."
The five-time Oscar nominee, who terrified cheating husbands everywhere in "Fatal Attraction" and portrayed a puppy slayer in "101 Dalmatians," debuts this week as Monica Rawling, the captain of the tough precinct depicted in "The Shield."
Station headquarters, or the "barn" as it's affectionately called by the show's characters, is full of renegade detectives, power-hungry commanders and cops living double lives. Oh, yes, it's also trying keep the body count down in the gang-ridden Los Angeles neighborhood it represents.
"They wouldn't have put me in the job if they didn't think I could do it," Close said about her character, a 25-year veteran on the force who's a sharpshooter and wears the coolest sunglasses. "I've earned my stripes."
Rawling replaces outgoing Capt. David Aceveda, portrayed by Benito Martinez, who won a seat on the city council and will remain a central character. Aceveda was a political animal whose style never jibed with that of his cops, but Rawling comes aboard as a cop's cop, someone who "identifies with the grunts on the police force," said "Shield" creator Shawn Ryan. "She still wants to be one of them."
Close, who turns 58 on Saturday, has played a first lady, a vice president and an Army colonel, but "The Shield" offers her the first opportunity to portray a police officer.
Close wasn't thrilled about the target practice she needed to prepare for the role ("I don't like shooting a gun"), but she did get a kick out of getting to know Theresa Shortell, one of the few NYPD female precinct commanders.
"She was very inspiring because of her love of law enforcement, her appreciation of the opportunities she'd been given, her toughness and yet her femininity," Close said. "She even let me go through her closets to see what she wears when she's not in uniform."
Femininity might come in handy when dealing with the rowdy precinct and Vic Mackey, the precinct's best and most ethically challenged detective.
Portrayed by Michael Chiklis, Mackey's been involved with some bad dealings, including killing two innocent cops to save his own skin and getting involved with a money-laundering scheme that blew up in his face last season.
Rawling doesn't trust Mackey as far as she can throw him, but she needs him off desk duty and back on the streets if she's ever going to make an impact in the neighborhood.
"I go way out on a limb in order to bring Vic back," she said. "My fate is tied to him."
Creator Ryan aimed high when casting the role of the new captain, pitching names such as Meryl Streep and Frances McDormand to show writers and network executives. But after sorting through schedules and assessing the capabilities of various actors, it became clear that Close was the choice.
"The one thing that appealed to us about Glenn right from the beginning is that she's someone famous for the work she's done, as opposed to being a celebrity on top of that," Ryan said. "You never saw her in the rags." (That's Hollywood-speak for the tabloids.)