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By Brad Balfour. Photography by Jimmy Fishbein.
For 32 year old actor Taylor Handley, his forthcoming role on FOX’s mid-season cop drama A.P.B. offers him a great chance to increase his profile, work from his strengths and toy with a fascinating concept. As he jokingly acknowledged, “I’m in tip top shape, ready to roll on these streets and bring justice.”
What if an incredibly wealthy billionaire — in this case Gideon Reeves (Justin Kirk) — essentially purchased a police district in a city after witnessing a violent crime — say Chicago — and equipped it with cutting edge technology to enhance the working cops. In rebooting it as a private police force, it offers fascinating possibilities.
Says the well-chiseled actor, “Of course, this is a ‘what if’ concept but it has a basis in fact. Producer David Slack [who has since left the show] found a story in the New York Times about a similar situation in New Orleans. This guy said, ‘I have this money and can make a difference.’ We never really talked about what if the government stopped funding the police like that. It’s too much of a far out concept. If it ever happened that would be like going down the rabbit hole.”
“Gideon Reeves gets lot of flack for trying to acquire this police district, people don’t want him to have such power privatizing policing or monetizing it. He’s not making Robo Cop.”
“But we are not trying to reinvent the wheel. This is still a police procedure — we are trying to entertain the ‘what if’ concept of a billionaire acquiring this district after being fed up with crime on streets. Someone who wants to make his city a safe place just enhances the drama. Still it does raise questions.”
As anticipated, Handley- who has had some experience with such TV shows such as CSI and Law and Order — plays a beat cop, Nicholas Brandt, who is an ex-military trying to find his place in the world while trying to do a good job for his city. Says the actor on the phone from his California home, “I am comfortable playing this role. Officer Brandt is ex-military and now a cop on the 13th district in Chicago. When Gideon Reeves comes out and acquires the district he outfits each cop with the best tech his corporation produces to make the streets a safer place. My character is a loyal protector, a lone wolf dedicated to his job, and in his backstory he has had a bleak experience. But he’s had the best military training. He’s seen stuff that would mess most people up and lives two lives as a civilian and an ex-military but this job is all he’s really got, so he’s living in the middle.”
Handley didn’t have to really do a lot of physical preparation for the role, since as he says, “If you’re always ready then you don’t need to get ready. I like to have a strong physical body and be strong mentally and spiritually as well. I try to keep everything in balance in life, I stay in shape so I can be in shape.”
A veteran of the summer stock, Handley began acting at the early age of eight. He had developed an impressive list of credits in both film and television. But he made his mark primarily in such series as The OC and Vegas where he starred as veteran lead Dennis Quaid’s difficult yet charming son Dixon Lamb. His father, Sheriff Ralph Lamb, loves his son but doesn’t always trust his judgement. Yet when it comes to trust, Handley not only trusted his experience working alongside such a legendary actor but was inspired by him. As Handley added, “Dennis Quaid… Wow, what can I say. My wife and I were driving around recently and we were talking about his new movie that we wanted to see- A Dog’s Purpose.” And we both thought, he’s like a national treasure. He is the nicest person to work with. I was so glad I did Vegas, it was great. I couldn’t have had a better number one to work with he’s so pleasant, prepared and was great with me. I was young guy trying to make my way and he was really helpful sending me in the right direction.”
Handley has also racked up experience in films such as The Standard, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Zerophilia and September Dawn. But he was also in the late Curtis Hanson’s surfing chronicle Chasing Mavericks based on a true story, where he got to work with this noted filmmaker who made the legendary film, LA Confidential. Commenting on his experience with Hanson, he said, “We lost a great one there. I’m really sorry about his passing. I am so glad to have worked with him. And the film was close to my heart since I’m a Californian and a surfer as well. One of the best experience I had doing it”
While Handley has such roots, he’s learning to make Chicago a great contemporary home and enjoys its sight and tastes. He and his wife can’t stop recommending the food — go to Gold Coast or go to Grace on Randolph on the West loop.”