Kyle Secor of NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Street"
Kyle Secor, portrays Detective Tim Bayliss on the award-winning crime-drama series "Homicide: Life on the Street." Before landing his role on "Homicide," Secor appeared in many films, including "Sleeping with the Enemy" and "City Slickers." His television credits include the NBC movies "In the Line of Duty: Standoff at Marian" and "Inherit the Wind" with Jason Robards and Kirk Douglas. He also had a recurring role on the award-winning NBC series "St. Elsewhere."
Welcome to the NBC Live Studio, Kyle.
Good to be here. It's good to be online. Welcome to everyone who's out there!
What does the future hold for your character?
Hmm...Bayliss is going to go on a date with Anne Heche...no, I'm kidding. No one knows, I don't know if the writers know. I think they're going to explore a little more the question of his sexuality and he'll continue solving cases.
Hello Kyle, last weeks show was very good. Do you think Frank will ever let your character "in" his life and do you think he was really aback at your statement about not being happy?
I think he understood completely about my not being happy, and I don't know if Pembleton is able to let Bayliss in his life more than he has. But you never know, maybe this will open Frank up a bit more, maybe he'll become a kindler, gentler cop :-) Kinda doubt it though.
Has it been difficult getting used to all the new actors and characters on the show this season?
I think that the writers have written them in quite nicely, according to their abilities, and how each of their characters would inter-relate with our characters. And I think that the funniest thing is, at work we rarely see each other. I still do most of my cases with Frank and you know, it's pretty seamless.
HI Kyle! Not that I think there are any, or think that you should think there are any, but are there any scenes and/or episodes of "Homicide" that you look back on and wish you'd done differently?
Wow, that's a good question. I don't know if I have an answer for that, but it's a good question. I think often times you look back on a scene after you've done it and something occurs to you that you would have liked to play it another way. But given how quickly we move on this show, you don't get a chance to go back. But that's the beauty of it, you just move on and keep working on it.
I look at it on TV sometimes and I say, you know, I missed that moment. But I don't think there's anything I would say I would have done differently.
That's my answer, I think.
How long have you been on the show?
I've been on the show for about 5 seasons.
I have just become a fan of the show.. and really have enjoyed the last few episodes. Will the gay theme continue in one form or another?
First of all, it's not gay, it's bisexuality. We have to kind of be clear on that. So, I think the bisexuality question will arise again, I don't know how often, but it will arise.
Were you the happiest when you worked for the Mayor's security. You played softball with the guys and had barbaques.
Yeah, cause Mayor's Security, they always had a better quality of steak and chicken at the barbecues, and they always had more of it. And there's always more to drink. They spread the money more on the Mayor's Security details, but I think I'm happier on the Homicide details.
Have Bolander and Russert been permanently written out of the series?
Bolander for certain and I'm pretty sure Russert too. She came back last year for a couple of episodes but I don't see her coming back, although we could all be in perfect surprise.
Kyle, lemme just say that Bayliss is my favorite character on the show! How much do you believe the character of Bayliss reflects your own character?
Thanks for liking Bayliss! That's all he ever wanted in the first place. I don't think we're very alike at all. I think that in the way he pursues the truth, I think in that way we're alike.
Will you and Frank Pembleton remain your partner for the rest of the season?
This year they tend to be rotating partners a bit more than before, so we'll be on a few cases together and sometimes not.
The relationship between your character and Pembelton is wonderful! are you and Andre Braugher friends off screen?
Yeah. He's a great guy. We hang out off camera also.
It seems the dialogue is from time to time fraught with excellent plays on language. Is that improv, an actor thing, or a writer's thing?
It's mostly the writers, but we have some actors on the show who fancy themselves pretty good with improvisational words, and we go off on the script a bit. But it's 90% scripted, but we have people who really make the dialogue their own and put in their own flavor.
When will we be able to look forward to the next episode that you'll direct?
Yeah, I directed one last year, and the one that I directed this year will be shown in two weeks. For those who have a recall of great comedy, Steve Allen and Jane Meadows are in that episode. And I hope to do more!
What are you more attracted to: acting or directing?
I've been an actor longer than I've been a director, but I'm very drawn to directing. Right now I'd say it's equal for both.
What did you and the other cast members think of the subway episode? That was an unusual one!
First time I picked up the script and read it I cried, and knew that it was going to be a powerful episode. It was simply the best writing I've seen on our show in a couple of seasons. I still have yet to see that episode, but based on the scrip, I knew it was going to be excellent.
Hi. I liked the pairing of Bayliss and Cox. Have the writers dropped that idea all together?
I say unfortunately yes, because I find Michelle Forbes a wonderful actress, and a lot of fun to act with, but that idea's been dropped.
How did you come to direct the upcoming episode with Jayne Meadows and Steve Allen?
Last season we had so many directors, and often times I found myself criticizing the directors in my mind. And I thought, if you think you can do any better Kyle, then try it. So I directed an episode last year and made a tremendous amount of mistakes and errors, so they decided to let me try again this year and try to amend some of those errors.
If "Homicide" were to end tomorrow, what direction would you like to see your career take?
I'd like to finish some of these screenplay ideas that I have, and continue to act, and direct some of my own work.
Any ideas or projects that you'd like to share with us?
Does anyone out there have any ideas they'd like to share with me? :-)
You and the cast deal with death on a weekly basis, does it ever get you down, and how do you keep it fresh?
It's a tough thing to do, especially if you've done it for six seasons. It's difficult to keep it fresh, so what you try to do is find your inspiration anywhere. You try to find it with the guest actors, with something new with your character that even you didn't know about, to the smile on a child's face on the street.
You find lots of things to keep it fresh. In terms of the violence, it's a messy world, and the way that I look at it is I've found my way on this show that's about violence, so I must be here for some reason. And I always keep that in the front of my mind.
Kyle, You do such a great job in the dramatic field. Have you ever done comedy? Would it even interest you?
It's something that I'd like to do more of. For some reason, I haven't been asked to do a lot of comedy. Theoretically I really enjoy it. I enjoy the sort of dark comedy we do on this show. Yeah, so I'd like to do more of that.
Hello--I don't want to gush but I think you are a wonderful actor. I was wondering who is one other actor/actress you'd like to work with?
I'm blushing already, you've made me blush. I'd like to work with- gosh- any people that inspire. Daniel Day Lewis, Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman, Pacino, any number of actors, Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, Claire Danes, I love her, I love Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Nicholson, Helen Hunt, there's a number of them
Directors like Martin Scorcese, a lot of people out there, a lot of good artists.
Back to "Homicide"......
What to you is the most appealing aspect of playing Bayliss?
That, for the most part, I never know what's going to happen to him.
That he can, you know, one week be busting someone's nose, and the next week be confused about tuna fish sandwiches, and the next week he's sleeping in a coffin with a woman, awhile later he's going on a date with a man. He's just sort of all over nd I like that.
How involved were you in the development of Bayliss exploring homosexuality?
It's first of all, we're exploring bisexuality. I was the one that suggested that idea over this last summer. But it's not coming out of nowhere, it's taking into account the first four or five seasons of the character, and the writers idea of how they wanted to explore my character, and I just sort of popped the question and said hey, how about bisexuality. And they said okay, let's see if we can do that on a cop show.
What do you think about the "Musical Montages" in the show?
I think sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't. It's just a matter of putting the right music into a certain part of the show. I initially thought it was some sort of cheap rock video moment, but I'm beginning to like it now.
I love the way "Homicide" is filmed. I heard they use only hand held cameras. Is that true?
It's true. We rarely put the camera on what they call sticks, it's usually right on the shoulder of the cameraman, and he just travels around and picks up whatever we're doing.
Does your role as Detective Bayliss require research on your part ?
Yes. Initially when we came to town we did a lot of research, and over the years there'll be a certain episode, something I don't understand, and I'll do some research, out into the community. But mainly what you're doing, as an actor, is research into yourself, and areas that are a little shadowy to you. So that's an interesting aspect to us as actors and the life that we live; that we get to take these aspects of ourselves and hold them up to a light, which is the audience.
Kyle : did you watch the "F.B.I." and "Dragnut" when you were a kid growing up ?
Of course! I watched the FBI all the time, I thought the actors were great. And Dragnet, I'll still watch Dragnet episodes, because it was just so dry. Then it was incredibly meaningful and important, and now I watch what I didn't get as a kid, and it's incredibly meaningful and touching.
How have you liked doing the crossovers with "Law and Order?"
It was great, they came down to Baltimore, and it was a completely different energy for them in Baltimore, because in New York they shoot in a very traditional manner. In Baltimore we have a very crazy set, we have a lot of energy, and a lot of young people moving quickly. For me it was fun to go to New York, to work again in a more traditional way of filmmaking. You had to respect a certain form, you had to remember your continuity, where in Homicide you don't have to do that so often.
I love the fact that "Homicide" doesn't pull any punches. How do you feel about the relentless darkness of the show?
Well, it's the only way to go. It's not the ONLY way, but I really like being on a show that has this way of going. The relentless darkness is something that, when done properly, appeals to people on far different levels than another show. It feels good to be doing something right, that appeals to people.
Bayliss seems like a nice, gentle guy, but has these dark, sometimes violent moments - how do you decide when to underplay, when to blow up?
It's really easy. I wait to see what Andre Braugher is going to do, and then I usually underplay it! It's tough to match Andre. Bayliss is a troubled guy, mostly it's underplayed, it's something interior that's going on until that moment where he snaps. You know, holding a gun over beer and potato chips in a liquor store. But he explodes, and there's never any relief for him, it just gets swallowed up again.
What kind of response do you get from Baltimore (and other) cops regarding "Homicide"?
The response has been very positive. For the most part, the cops think we're fairly realistic. I don't think any cop show is ever going to totally satisfy a real cop, because they can pick it apart like that. But for the most part I think they've been supportive.
We've taken these characters that were portrayed in this book, and made them our own. And I think that has been difficult for the cops who knew these characters we're portraying. But that's what we do.
Can you tell when a scene really "works" before it is edited?
Sure. You can tell by the energy that the actors give it, while we're rehearsing it, sometimes I'll come to Andre will come to me, and we'll say, wow, this is a great piece of writing. There's no way it can't work. Sometimes we're surprised, something we didn't think was going to be much of anything comes out really great. But you can feel the power, you can feel the connection between the actors and the camera, it's an amazing sensation.
How much of where you work --is-- a set? Most of it looks like real streets, real homes, hotels.
We work 50% on the only real sets that we use- the morgue and the actual squad room. Everything else we're out on the streets, we're in people's homes, people's bars, people's bathrooms. It's all real, which I think gives the show its texture, rather than being on a set, you're in someone's home.
Working in the law enforcement field I have seen things that really tear at my heart. What script for you has had the most emotional impact?
There was a script called A Mother's Son, about a mother whose son got killed, and she has a conversation with the mother of the kid who shot her son. There's one about a mother who had to make the decision to take her son off a life support device. Anytime a child's involved it seems to kick in the emotions more. So those.
How do you think Homicide differs from other police dramas?
It's shot in Baltimore :-) And...I don't know, I've asked myself that question for six years now, and I haven't come up with a firm answer for that. I don't know if we're any better, I just think we hit on something that others don't hit on. But I don't know what that is.
Do you have any surprises planned for this year's "Homicide: Live"?
Hahaha! There's a Homicide Live that's going to happen in February, and that's something that we do to raise money for an arts coalition. So there's that, and the other surprise is whether we come back next year or not, that's all I know.
What do you attribute to the shows outstanding quality?
Wonderful acting, Tom Fontana (the executive producer) and his touch, the city of Baltimore and the people, and I don't know, this show's got a lot of heart.
What would you tell an Upcoming actor or actress to or not to do to make it big?
Let's see...there's an interesting saying, and that is, the pass is the goal. And that means that you keep taking steps to better yourself as an actor and you become the best actor that you can. And everything else will, I believe, fall into place. It's not about the parties, it's about doing something that's going to be of service to the world, and it's going to deepen your experience about life and human beings and the world.
How has your opinion of police officers changed since you started doing the show?
I went from a complete- had no idea what they actually did. Was very naive about homicide, and I guess you could say I had no respect. And now I have incredible respect for what they have to deal with. I forgot that they were human also, and that they have a very dear job in this society. And I think that most of them do the best job that they can.
when acting out a scene does it sometime give you a true feeling of how real life is really on the real life?
First of all, to remember that real life is going on all the time, even when you're acting there's real life. So does it give you a sense of what its like to be a cop, I can get that sense sometimes. But I know that for me it's a game that I'm playing, and for me the game is how close can I get to behaving in the way that I've seen cops behave in those situations.
To keep that I always know when I'm falling short, and when I hit it too. And when I hit it I know I'm doing well, and I'm in touch with real life :-)
Why the change to glasses this year?
Very simple, here in Baltimore it's very humid, and I wear contact lenses. And at the end of last year I'd put in the contact lenses, and you're using water from work, and such and so, and it was just easier to put on glasses.
Will Kyle ever take a shot at writing a script?
We're leaving that to Yaphet Kotto, he's the only actor that's written one. I would prefer to direct.
Have you read the novel by David Simon, was it required reading, and have you ever met Tom Pellegrini?
Yes, yes and yes. It wasn't required reading, but they suggested strongly that I read it, and I'm glad I did. And Tom Pellegrini is just a wonderful, sensitive man, and a wonderful cop. He gave me wonderful help the first year, and the book helped immensely because it made me understand what it was like to be a cop.
Did you ever dream of being a cop as a kid?
Yeah, when I got out of high school, I had no other prospect in my life. I wanted to go into the Air Force and be a cop in the Air Force. The day that I was accepted, I said I might go tomorrow, and they called back an hour later and said they'd looked over the physical, and my eyesight didn't meet the requirement. They said I could be a plane loader, and I declined.
Do you view criminal behavior differently since working on Homicide?
I think in viewing it differently, I think I have a better understanding of where it's coming from and why it occurs.
Other than that, I think anytime you hurt anyone it's wrong, so I try not to do that in my own life.
so Mr.Secor how did you choose a career in acting???
I think it chose me. I was working at a Shakey's Pizza Parlor after high school, and I didn't have anything else that I knew how to do. I went to see a friend of mine in a play, and I loved seeing this play, and I remembered that I'd done that in high school and really loving it. So I took some courses and told my dad that I wanted to be an actor, and I didn't really know what that meant.
But I liked dressing up in different noses and different hats, so I liked that.
People are asking..... could you see "Homicide" and "ER" pairing up?
It would be really interesting. That would be a very interesting idea, I think that we should all play basketball against each other on the show too :-) It's a good idea, I don't think it would happen, but it's a good idea!
Kyle don't you know there is no such thing as bisex... you are either a homo... or straight don't let your character go the other way?
I think that whatever anyone believes is what they believe. If you think there is no bisexuality, there is no bisexuality. If you believe there is bisexuality, there is bisexuality. If you believe the sky is blue, the sky is blue.
Away from Homicide, did you enjoy shooting CITY SLICKERS?
I loved working on City Slickers, I love riding horses and being the bad guy, and punching out Billy Crystal. That's the great thing about doing those, like Drop Zone, I learned how to parachute. That's the great thing about doing film, you get to do all these great things that you'd never do.
In your mind, who really murdered Edena Watson? And where is Kay?
In my mind, I don't know. I think it's probably the Aradder. And where is Kay? Kay is on another network that has no name :-)
Where do you see yourself in your career five years from now?
I think that my career, hopefully I'll have this writing discipline down, and I'll be able to be writing and directing and acting, and have a retreat center for people that are interested in world peace. There you go.
Any plans to do a "Homicide"-like film after the show is over?
Steve and Fiona, identify yourselves!
We've been kidding around about doing Homicide: The Musical, and I think that's what all the actors would really be up for. I don't think there'll be a film, because no one's mentioned it, but a few of us want to do a musical.
What movie/show/play have you enjoyed acting in the most?
There is a movie called "Delusion" that I really enjoyed. A play, I did Anthony and Cleopatra with John Goodman that I really liked. And whatever my next project is. And Homicide.
How much, if any influence do the actors in the show have over the overall story line?
I think the actors can make very adamant suggestions, and they don't have that great a deal of control. We just make suggestions and try to get our points across as clearly as possible. If the writers don't take them we either mope or get on with it.
Has being in the public eye motivated you to work for any causes or behave a certain way?
Hmm...I think that it's motivated me to help others, and to help out with different causes, especially here in Baltimore. In terms of my behavior in public, I don't know. I don't go running naked through the streets as much as I used to, so I've really had to modify that :-)
You just said you'd like to do a musical. Can you sing and dance?
I'd like to think that I can. We do this Homicide Live show, and I do some dancing that, but it's always improvised. I usually dance with a mop or a broom. I'd like to work with a voice coach and learn to dance a bit more. I'd like to Tango and Fox Trot and learn how to tap dance, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to make anyone on a Broadway stage watch.
Any new loves for the shows future?
We went from Michelle Forbes character to Peter Gallagher, to a mild flirtation with Callie Thorn, so you never know. They might bring an orangutan on the show next for me! But I've been telling them to keep it human, and I'll do what I can. But I think what's going to happen is the bisexual thing- if there is such a thing as bisexuality- will rear its head. Which doesn't mean that there's going to be any sex happening, it's just all theoretical.
Thank you, Kyle, for joining us this evening!
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