Television isn’t wasting any time introducing new shows for the new year, and one of the first brings a literary sleuth to life.
Premiering Tuesday, Jan. 3, ABC’s “Will Trent” is inspired by Karin Slaughter’s best-sellers about a nattily dressed Atlanta man who was raised in the foster-care system and now works for the Georgia Bureau of Investigations. Played by Ramon Rodriguez (“The Wire,” “The Affair”), Trent has a human touch, but it doesn’t keep him from trading on-the-job barbs with his sometimes girlfriend … police detective Angie Polaski (Erika Christensen), with whom he grew up, and who has her own dark past.
The pleasant Rodriguez surmises that for novelist Slaughter, who isn’t a constant presence on the “Will Trent” set but has visited, “It’s got to be surreal and strange” to see her creation leap from page to screen. “You’ve had something in your head for years, and now it’s coming to life. As with all things, everyone has their own interpretation, but it was wonderful to meet her and just give her thanks for creating such a compelling character.”
Rodriguez admits he didn’t know the “Will Trent” books before joining the television project, but he then “dove into them. I really fell in love with this character, how he functions with the secrets that he has, and how he perseveres in so many ways despite everything he’s been through. There are parts of that that I definitely can relate to. He’s just trying to figure out his way in the world, like so many of us are.”
The well-groomed look, which others in the show often comment on, is a major component of the Will Trent character.
“Our incredible costume designer did an amazing job with these suits, which are a lot more favorable now than in midsummer,” Rodriguez reflects. “How Will puts himself together and presents himself is a large part of who he is. It’s a sort of armor he puts on, and every time you wear that kind of suit, it changes you. There’s no way it can’t.” The actor appreciates that the suits also are “a little baggy, a little loose.”
Rodriguez also is an executive producer of “Will Trent” along with Slaughter, Liz Heldens and others. Cast regulars also include Sonja Sohn (another veteran of “The Wire”) as Trent’s boss Amanda Wagner and Iantha Richardson (“This Is Us”) as his investigative partner Faith Mitchell.
“We know how many procedural cop shows there are out there,” Rodriguez reasons, “so with every aspect of this show, from the visual language to the characters to the stories, I think everyone involved is trying to elevate this into something that is unique.”