Why Shemar Moore might shoot 'S.W.A.T.' in Dubai, if given a chance

The popular American actor spoke about the thrills of working on the high-octane show, now streaming in the Middle East on TOD

by Enid Grace Parker

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Photos: Jack Taylor/Sony Pictures Television/CBS
Photos: Jack Taylor/Sony Pictures Television/CBS

Published: Thu 10 Nov 2022, 8:40 AM

Last updated: Fri 11 Nov 2022, 3:47 PM

He’s been a familiar and beloved face on television for a while now, appearing multiple times as Malcolm Winters on long-running American soap The Young and the Restless, a role that won him a Daytime Emmy Award; he also made a mark playing Special Agent Derek Morgan on crime drama Criminal Minds for 11 years.

At 52, American actor Shemar Moore, a former model and varsity baseball player, continues to engage fans with a growing body of work; he currently portrays LAPD Sergeant Daniel "Hondo" Harrelson on S.W.A.T., a high-octane cop show that kicked off in 2017.

S.W.A.T. is now streaming in the Middle East on TOD.

In a Zoom chat with City Times, Moore expressed his gratefulness for S.W.A.T.’s growing global fanbase and said he would even shoot in Dubai someday, if given the opportunity!

S.W.A.T. - where “Hondo” is tasked with running a specialized tactical unit that is the last stop in law enforcement in LA - is currently into its sixth season, the first two episodes of which were shot in Thailand.

“Six seasons of S.W.A.T. and we’ve been blessed to not only be loved - (but) fans are finding S.W.A.T. and enjoying it around the world! We went to Mexico twice; we went to Tokyo, Japan, and now to Thailand. I pinch myself that I actually get to fulfill my dream of acting and go chase tough guys in other countries!”

The Diary of a Mad Black Woman star referred to Thailand as “such a beautiful part of the world”, joking about how he wanted a tuk tuk for his house, and recalling some “interesting” food items that “we’re not quite used to out here in the United States!”

“The city of Bangkok is incredible. (There’s a) frenzy of life and activity. The culture (of Thailand) is beautiful; the people are friendly - so polite and so nice. To be able to run around in the city of Bangkok and then go out to the jungle which they call Chiang Mai… we saw lions and tigers, big beautiful elephants, these six-foot big Jurassic Park-looking lizards.”

He recalled jogging in a park for exercise and encountering these creatures, causing him to “sprint back” to his hotel.

“When you see the show, it’s so beautiful - it’s nice that we are able to not only tell our story but really showcase the beauty of a country,” he shared.

S.W.A.T. in Dubai?

Having lived outside the United States in his childhood and travelled widely, Moore attributed his thrill of taking the show to different parts of the world, to his love for other cultures.

“One of my favourite things to do in life is to see the unknown and see just how vast and beautiful the rest of the world is. I never want to get locked down in just my own little bubble or community. I spent the first six years of my life living out of the country - Denmark for three years, Bahrain in the Middle East, we travelled to Germany, Ghana, London, Pakistan, Virgin Islands, Greece. I’ve got pictures of myself next to the pyramids, and on camels. My mother gave me a very international upbringing; I know that’s a lot of who I am and what’s instilled in me, so when I get to travel and be around other cultures, it just makes me feel full.”

When asked if he would ever bring a show or film to Dubai, Moore commented that the city was definitely on his bucket-list.

“All I’ve seen are videos and pictures and I’ve heard from friends who have been there; it’s just incredible - it’s surreal, it doesn’t look real to me! And I just wanna come! Book me a ticket tomorrow! If we could shoot S.W.A.T. in Dubai, that’d be crazy!”

Supercops doing super-cool things

We asked Moore what sets S.W.A.T. apart, amidst a plethora of cop and detective shows across OTT and television.

He remarked with just the right mix of audacity and confidence, “Obviously I am biased, there is no such thing as the best show on TV, but I think the reason S.W.A.T. is so loved and enjoyed, (is that) we are a unique show for TV. When we’re doing our thing to the level that we can do, it’s like we’re making a movie for TV. I mean, you watch Fast and Furious, and you watch Bourne, and now in your own living room on television for an hour a night, you get to see kind of an action thriller like when you go to the movies.”

He made a light-hearted comment about how ratings were important for him to keep his job, while applauding the fact that families made it a point of watching the show together.

“Everybody can enjoy it; outside of parents not wanting their kids to see guns, it’s actually a family-friendly show. It’s a fun, thrill-ride where you get to see supercops doing super-cool things; there is lots of fun action, some interesting stories, then you see the team, the camaraderie, the friendships and the chemistry that we have, and also the topics that the show goes after or tackles from time to time.”

He believes S.W.A.T. reflects reality while also keeping audiences entertained.

“I love when we do poignant episodes (again, without being too heavy); we talk about school shootings, human trafficking, cop suicide, Black Lives Matter and what’s been going on in this country and around the world, the racial division, unrest and lack of trust between law enforcement and civilians. Not picking a side, but just trying to showcase the voices on each side. Not that a television show can fix those issues of the world, but if a show can make your mind go ‘oh, wait a minute, there’s another way of looking at it’... I like to think we might be able to create a little more harmony, a little more open mindedness to what’s going on. But, at the same time, you just sit down for an hour and just have a good time watching Hondo being a badass!”

An alpha male with a difference

Having played Hondo for so long, how has the character evolved, according to him?

Telling viewers to “expect more badass-ery in Season 6”, Moore added, “Hondo’s the boss - it’s fun to play such an alpha male guy who is kind of like Superman! You don’t mess with him. But I also like the layers and levels to who he is behind the badge, just the human element, his family issues, the reason he became a cop to bridge the gap of the injustices that he’s seen throughout his life. Then in Season 6, Hondo’s going to become a daddy! So you get to see the soft, mushier side. It’s just some fun little anecdotes mixed in while we are running around saving the day.”

Running around saving the day entails maintaining some kind of fitness regime and Moore said at 52, all the action and stunts do take a toll on his body.

“I make jokes all the time that they could have given me this job about ten years ago. I’m running around trying to be a superhero but I come home from work and - ooh, there are a lot of ice baths and massages and hot baths; you gotta do what you gotta do to protect your body. I’ve stayed in shape for most of my life, from playing sports, but it gets harder and harder. Right now I’m not in my best shape, but I’ve made a promise to myself - I refuse to have a ‘dad bod’ - I’m not going to let myself go.”

Talking about how it took eight days to shoot an episode of S.W.A.T. and the stamina required, Moore said, “I’m currently drinking a gallon of water a day for three weeks just to clean my system and get back in the gym, because I want to be sexy guy for the ‘babygirls’ but also, in real life, honestly, to do this job we have to be in shape. We’re running up and down stairs and chasing guys down alleys and fighting: it’s a lot of work.”

He paid tribute to the real men and women of law enforcement, saying, “We take a lot of pride in trying to be as authentic as possible with our show, to pay homage to them. Because we’re just actors having a good time but we still want you to feel like it’s real so you can understand what these men and women go through. They leave their houses every day from their families and they don’t know if they’re going to come back. So we’re trying to portray the mental and physical strength of these men and women as much as possible on camera, and I’ll say it again - we just want to look super cool and super good!”

Enid Grace Parker

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