Noah Wyle’s arc takes him on ‘The Red Line’

A simple trip to a grocery store sets in motion a chain of tragic events in “The Red Line,” a limited series debuting 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS.

Noah Wyle (“ER”) stars as Daniel Calder, a teacher whose husband Harrison (Corey Reynolds), an African-American doctor, is picking up milk after a long shift at the Chicago hospital where he works when a holdup takes place.

After the thief leaves, Harrison steps forward to minister to the owner’s head wounds. A lone white cop, responding to a 911 call, enters the store and shoots Harrison twice in the back, mistaking him for the thief.

Six months later, Calder is trying to function at his job teaching AP History at a local high school while raising his adopted teenage daughter, Jira (Aliyah Royale), also African-American. He’s doing a bad job of holding it together. “This is thrust upon Daniel and he’s not ready,” says Wyle, 47. “He has to put on a brave face but internally he’s crumbling. His grief has to take second place. He has to figure out a way to reach somebody and admits he has lost control. And he’s selfish and not above hurting people That’s the part I like. He’s not a perpetual victim. At the same time he’s an antagonist.”

First developed as a play by executive producers Caitlin Parrish and Erica Weiss, “The Red Line” — so named after the Chicago metro line — shows how one family’s grief reverberates through Chicago’s shaky sociopolitical structure. Calder wants Paul Evans (Noel Fisher), the cop who killed his partner, to lose his badge and hires an attorney. Feeling she can’t express what she’s going through as a black child who has lost her black father, Jira reaches out to her birth mother, Tia Young (Emayatzy Corinealdi), who’s risen far above the circumstances that found her pregnant at age 15: she’s running for public office and has her own family.

For Wyle, it’s his Regina King moment: a mature, robust role that reminds your peers how good you really are. “I was incredibly moved by it. The scripts avoided clichés and went for a deeper sense of inclusion,” he says. “I looked at the project more like a personal odyssey than the next big career decision. I know they went through a few actors before they came to me.”

Aware that we live in an age where art must serve politics, Parrish and Weiss admit they first offered the part to the nation’s most public gay actors. “Noah knows that. He knows we did our due diligence,” Weiss says. Availability was the problem. “Most of the actors were in [the 2018 Broadway production] of ‘The Boys in the Band,’ ” Parrish adds. The matter seemed settled once the cast gathered at the first table read and Wyle left the writers in tears. That’s when Weiss said to herself, “Oh, it was always supposed to be him.”

If there’s any controversy in “The Red Line” it will be the series’ negative portrayal of the white cops in the Chicago police department, which is in line with other Hollywood portrayals of law enforcement personnel.

But Parrish defends her characterization of the policemen in “The Red Line.”

“It was very important to not portray the cops as just one thing,” says Parrish. “It was important that Paul not be a sociopath blindly executing people. Or a perfectly good person making a mistake. The truth lies in the ambiguous middle.”

“It’s really easy forget how many dedicated men and women risk their lives every day,” Wyle says. “I think Erica and Caitlin did a good job of showing the diversity of the police department. I think it’s honest.”

Source: Read Full Article