BPI Entertainment News Wire, February 9, 2000
Copyright 2000 BPI Communication, Inc.
BPI Entertainment News Wire February 9, 2000, Wednesday
Kyle Secor: Drawn back to 'Homicide'
BYLINE: By BRIDGET BYRNE, Entertainment News Wire DATELINE: LOS ANGELES
"I try not to live an actor's day -- I don't want to go 'Huh, what happened...' I want to feel like part of the work force of America, so I sit down everyday to write."
But this afternoon Kyle Secor is taking time out from his current self-imposed work ethic to talk about the character who was so much a part of his life for seven years: Tim Bayliss, the "Zen" detective on "Homicide: Life on the Street."
He's in the mood to talk about the critically-acclaimed yet ratings-poor (and hence cancelled) "Homicide" since NBC has decided to > bring the gritty cop drama back for one night only: Sunday, Feb 13, 9-11 PM (ET/PT). The two hour movie event, rather plainly titled "Homicide: The Movie," is executive produced by Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana and directed by Jean de Segonzac. It reunites twenty one of the cast members who appeared on the Baltimore-based series from 1993-99. The clever storyline revolves around the shooting of Lt. Al Giardello (Yaphet Kotto) who is now a mayoral candidate. The plot also deals with what has happened since the > series concluded eight months ago with a controversial episode in which Bayliss took the law into his own hands and brought to justice a murderer the system failed to convict.
Despite the need to give all the cast members at least one juicy scene,the movie's script emphasizes, as did many of the series' most successful episodes, the very complex relationship between Bayliss and his one time partner Detective Frank Pembleton, so memorably portrayed by Emmy winner Andre Braugher.
Returning was an option Secor couldn't refuse. "It would be like Bob Denver saying no to 'Gilligan's Island'," he says with a low-key, ricochet humor that underscores much of his conversation.
Just as Bayliss drifts back into the squad room to
help in the search for the gunman who shot Giardello, so Secor drifts in to a neighborhood coffee shop in Hollywood for this interview, a few moments late, but, one senses, a little earlier perhaps than he'd like to be. That's part of Bayliss' dilemma as Secor explains it. "He hasn't been back in the squad room since [shooting someone ]... No one knows where he's been, no one suspects him. He's not felt ready to turn himself in, he comes back before he's ready and then he's confronted with Frank, the guy who's always been his confessor, his absolver, his God, his unrequited love, if you like... He wants the burden removed, but he doesn't know how to do it."
Secor has never been very surprised by all the flights of fancy, emotional risks, deadends, leaps of faith, oddly wise and perversely foolish trips Bayliss has taken in the years which have seen him grow from "the rookie, the naive guy who might go anywhere," to "the innocent-turned-cynic, the innocent-turned-executioner." He says that in some sense he approached every episode as though he was taking on "a brand new character in a miniature movie," so as to cope easily and convincingly with the twists and turns, the bi-sexuality, the Buddhism, the near-death experience, the exploratory nature of the character. Secor explains that Bayliss is someone whose job, whose surroundings, forced him to forsake so much, his faith, his sexuality, and his emotions. "He's stuffed down his feelings and who he felt he was for so long, that ultimately it wasn't too surprising that the one thing he finally felt he knew he was was a cop, someone who takes care of things," he says.
In the movie, Bayliss appears sporting a beard, the sort of facial hair grown more out of lack of interest than for style or disguise. In reality, Secor shows up clean-shaven, dressed in baseball cap, jeans, white T-shirt, and a casual jacket. He's very boyish looking for someone born in 1957 and one inch shorter than it states in his biography. He says he's 6' 4" not 6' 5", but that might just be some sort of quirky modesty. He's tall. He's also very near-sighted, a dilemma which kept him from pursuing possible careers as a basketball player or an airforce pilot, but one which adds an appealing spaced-out quality to his on and off-screen presence. He's one of those people you are absolutely sure sees the world a little differently from the way you do. Just like Bayliss, who, Secor laughingly admits, was never a fictional cop with whom real life cops chose to identify. "I don't think any cop ever came up to me and said 'I understand where Bayliss is coming from."'
Secor wasn't too interested in the concept of series television when he was first asked to audition. Fontana knew him from his work on the hospital series "St. Elsewhere" in which he played a patient with AIDS. But Secor was indifferent because "I had what I thought was a nice little film career going, small parts in big movies, bigger roles in smaller movies and I didn't think I wanted to do TV."
Awhile later he did eventually audition but was given the wrong pages of dialogue and the wrong time to show up and so was "unprepared and unprofessional." But Levinson liked what he saw of Secor's audition tape. Secor then read "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Street," David Simon's non-fiction book upon which Paul Attanasio based the series, and he was sufficiently "blown away" by it to change his mind. He realized that even if the show only lasted for six episodes he was really going to enjoy it.
Born in Tacoma, Washington, Secor was inspired to become an actor when he saw a friend in a community college production of "Hello Dolly." "I just basically went 'That's it. That's what I want to do.' But I had no idea how you made a living at it. And I didn't really figure that out for years." He'd acted a little in high school, playing the title role in the cross-dressing farce "Charley's Aunt." However, in his early twenties he was working as the assistant manager of a pizza parlor. "My life wasn't any great shakes, I really wanted some sort of adventure." He came to Los Angeles and started on a bumpy ride which included a brief marriage, a return to Washington, "miserable" times and little money. Eventually, in the mid '80s, Secor scored a working gig on the soap opera "Santa Barbara" portraying a mental patient who becomes a best selling writer.
Upcoming, Secor will be seen in "Beat" playing Dave Kammerer. "Beat," an independent film which just screened at the Sundance Festival, is about the beat generation of writers and their misadventures in Mexico -- an obvious choice for someone who says Jack Kerouac is one of his heroes. (The other is Bruce Springsteen.) He's also in another independent movie, "Endsville," though he says "no one knows what's happening with that, but it was a lot of fun to do. I played an inept leader of an inept cult."
Meanwhile there's writing to be done (short stories and screenplays), the hope someone might ask him to direct (he directed three episodes of "Homicide,"), Laker games to watch (he's a major fan), gym and yoga classes to go to -- a whole non-actor's life to lead.