Kelli Giddish and Cole Hauser Talk Chase

Kelli Giddish and Cole Hauser discus this new NBC action series about a federal marshall

Chase is one of the several new shows starting up on NBC this fall, with the series set to premiere on Monday, September 20 at 10 PM ET. Series stars Kelli Giddish and Cole Hauser recently joined executive producer Jennifer Johnson on a conference call to discuss this new series. Here's what they all had to say:

Kelli, I'm sure that you realize as entertainment writers we like to sort of compare things with preexisting things. I'm sure you've probably heard you're the female Jack Bauer as some point in the early parts of the season. But it's just a great role. How do you sort of want to see this character developed?

Kelli Giddish: You know, I hadn't heard that comparison, but I think it's got the same - she's got the same kick-butt attitude as some other characters we've seen that are great action stars with different as - the show takes place in Texas and she's a Texas girl and she's also coming from a family that...You know, I mean, her father is a criminal, is an outstanding fugitive. So she's a girl that ended up on the right side of the law, and to see how that happened and why she's so committed to her job, I think is going to be a really interesting journey.

Cole, you're playing a Texan, you're described as a true cowboy, you're a Marshall. How do you sort of keep it fresh, how do you keep it from being sort of cliché?

Cole Hauser: Well, first and foremost I've never played a Texan before and I think what's so cool about Texas and Texans is they're very proud (of the) state, as you know. So, this is something that I've always wanted to just play kind of a throwback American character. And talking with Jen and Jonathan Littman and Jerry Bruckheimer and David Nutter who cast the pilot and directed it, it became very interesting to me and I think that through the last seven episodes the team of writers and Jen Johnson have taken this character and had him go a few different ways, you know what I mean? He's not (this typical) kind for redneck who is from the country. He's a well-rounded smart guy who grew up in the country but moved on to being a Marshal and is very proud of that.

In this day and age where we see so many special effects movies and big gigantic gargantuan films, it's great to see action movies, you know, where you're in real sweat and tears kind of shows. Why do you think people are always attracted to that, to the chase movies, to the cop shows, to those types of films or TV series?

Jennifer Johnson: We talked a lot about what made our hearts pump faster. And we do see so many special effects, and this is about that visceral feeling of chasing somebody and/or being chased. It's getting back to basics. It's getting back to the heroes chasing the criminals. Good guys versus bad guys. Everything is so complicated these days. This is the return of the American hero. Cole and Kelli are both so dedicated to their jobs and so dedicated to what they do for very different, different reasons but it's a feeling of wanting to get back to the basics.

Kelli Giddish: Yeah and you know like when you where speaking, I thought of like Bruce Willis in Die Hard, you know, and how much - I grew up with that and how much we all loved him. You know and it's that kind of thing. You see the - when I go to work I've got adrenalin pumping through my veins and I think for sure that's going to show up on film. It's not an eye in the sky that is seeing some big explosion and feeling the sparks later. No, it's - the sparks are happening, you know, inside of us and I think, I mean, it's going to show up on film in Cole's eyes and my eyes and in our faces and I think when the writers are writing it they've - they're pumped and I think it's going to show up in the film.

Jennifer Johnson: And you know these guys do their stunts, you've got to see Kelli and Cole on set sometime. Stop by.

Cole Hauser: Keep in mind that everything that you see, up until this point, for the most part, is us. And whether it's me driving a car or jumping out of a six-story window or Kelli hanging out the side of an airplane as it's about to take off or jumping off a bridge. I mean, these are all things that you don't see on television, the actors doing. So I think what makes this show special is not only the mental side of it and finding the criminal and getting into the criminals mind but also the fact that you're seeing two actors kind of in their prime who are athletes doing a lot of amazing stunt work with a great stunt coordinator and Eric Norris. So, I think it's a wonderful opportunity for us but also for the American audience to see, I mean, two dedicated actors in many different ways.

You have some pretty big timeslot competition this season. Hawaii Five-0 has done really well in early viewings; Castle is gaining viewers. And on cable you've got Weeds and The Big C. Are you nervous about that? Or do you think you will be able to stand up those shows?

Jennifer Johnson: I don't feel nervous about it at all. You know, we've talked about this, you know, amongst ourselves and I'm dedicated to always writing the best shows I can and I'm not going to write this show to compete with them. In my opinion we are a bit of counter-programming. You know, our tone is different and no - we'll just always make the best show that we can. And NBC has expressed - we know what our competition is for sure and you know, we're going to be patient and wait for viewers to find us.

I really loved the pilot and what I liked the most was the character of Annie and how strong she was and also how realistic she was as a woman. I just wanted to know was the idea of the leader of the group always supposed to be a woman? Or did that change over time?

Jennifer Johnson: I always imagined Annie Frost. It was always a woman. It was always a woman from the beginning. I think that's part of the reason that Bruckheimer television asked me to write it. And that from the first moment, you know, they ask you, who are your characters, and Annie Frost was always the lead in my mind. And, you know, for me I'm a female writer so obviously, you know, I'm influenced by that. But I'm also influenced by the kind of dearth of just like - well, I can't comment on other TV. I don't want to comment on other TV. But what I can tell you is that Annie Frost and Kelli Giddish; I had an out of body experience when she came in and did her screen test, because she so completely embraced the character and filled her out in way I could have never imagined. But I just - I always write Annie Frost from my heart and she, to me, is a very special character. She is tough, she's very unpredictable, she jumps and then she thinks about it second. She's a person who doesn't over analyze. You know, we see a lot of kind of the dark New York or troubled characters while Annie keeps her past a little more suppressed. She is much more of a person who runs as fast as she can. So I just always write her from my heart. And, Kelli, like I said, just fills her out in such a way, in ways, that I could never have ever imagined. She is Annie Frost so it's hard for even me to talk about her as my character anymore because she's Kelli's character. But you know, Kelli and I are very much in sync with the character and very much in sync with each other and so I see kind of the three of us sitting in a room together.

What's something that most of you did not know about the US Marshall service that you guys learned through doing Chase?

Jennifer Johnson: Kelli do you want to talk about your week that you spent down there with those guys?

Kelli Giddish: Yeah, I went down for a week with the Houston Marshalls. I didn't know that they hated paperwork as much as I hated it. They loathe it man. They want to be in their cars catching the bad guys. They don't want to be filling out paperwork about the bad guys, you know, and the ones they've caught. I didn't know that they did (till tabs). You know, where they go in. I didn't know that that was a whole division of the Marshalls. I didn't know that they were in charge of protecting our judges to be honest with you. So, that week in Houston completely filled out a lot of details about the attitudes that they take towards the job. I couldn't believe, honestly, how determined and the will that they have day after day after night after day after day after night, you know, to catch the bad guys and they do. And I think that that is something that Jennifer has really done successfully with these scripts, with my character. They're just (doggin) in their determination to keep our community safe and I didn't realize the level at which they, you know, they take the commitment to the job.

Jennifer, why US Marshalls? Why not the DEA or FBI or you know?

Jennifer Johnson: Two reasons. I mean, the first is as I started doing research about fugitives, something unexpected to me was that it's the US Marshalls who are really in charge of finding them. They have become in the past, particularly in the past ten years, they have become the experts in finding fugitives. So in other words, if the Houston Police Department has a fugitive, and that's anybody who' committed a crime who's disappeared for more than an hour is a fugitive. They always now turn to the US Marshalls because, like I said, they've become the experts. They've set up regional offices around the country. Texas is practically a country in and of itself so they have the Gulf Coast Office Task Force which is what our show is based upon. They are one of the busiest task forces in America. But they are the experts on catching fugitives and so that's why I gravitated to the US Marshalls. And then the second aspect was I wanted to set it Texas and these guys, like Kelli said, really are cowboys. They are on the ground. I love, Kelli, what you pointed out about them not wanting to do paperwork because they truly abhor it. And the truth of the matter is they don't have to do much. It's not a bureaucracy like a lot of other federal agencies are. This is about the guys on the ground making decisions in a pinch which you will see Kelli and Cole's characters do. They don't have to check with their bosses. They, in a sense, each US Marshall is their own boss when they are out in the field. So its very much about the cowboy mentality, the go-get 'em mentality, the forming a posse mentality to go get the bad guy. Forming a posse is actually something US Marshalls can do. They can deputize citizens to form a posse and that's, you know, - forming a posse that phrase comes from US Marshalls in the old west doing just that.

Cole, I was wondering, what's been the most challenging aspect of playing your character?

Cole Hauser: The most challenging aspect? I think the heat down here in Texas has been pretty challenging. I mean, we got down there two and a half months ago and it was between 107 and 114 degrees. And now Kelli and I hit the streets running. You know, the first episode, 102 actually, was us chasing a fugitive for about a day and a half. So, you know, we lost some weight along the way. I think Kelli lost seven pounds I've lost about ten. But, you know, other than that its really fun this show. And I want to make sure that that's - it's one of those shows that you wake up everyday and you go to work and we get to do extraordinary things. We have an amazing stunt coordinator and the stuff, and the stories that are written are really smart and educated and I think that, you know, it's been a pleasure. I mean, there is nothing more that I would rather be doing right now with my time. So, that being said, I love the challenge and the challenge is always welcome here.

Just remember that it's always about hydration.

Cole Hauser: I drank 18 bottles of water one day and I didn't not piss once.

Kelli Giddish: And you don't pee man.

How much of a personal relationship of your characters are we going to see on Chase? How important is their families and their romantic relationships?

Kelli Giddish: Well in terms of romantic relationships, I think Jennifer has given a really great opportunity in the first script to get to know Annie and Jimmy and the rest of the cast and how much of a team they are. I think one of the strongest relationships in the show is between Cole and I because they have been working together for five years and to see a professional relationship like I think the one that has been written between us is absolutely great to play. And to not need that romantic layer added on top of it. Saying that we've also got Eddie Cibrian coming onto the show. So, kinda later on the season, you'll get to meet Annie and you'll kinda get to see her vulnerable side in terms of how she reacts to a man that kinda gets into her skin a little bit. And I think it's been a great incorporation of that aspect of bringing that aspect of a character out.

Jennifer that was a conscious effort on your part?

Jennifer Johnson: To incorporate them? Yeah, very much so. And you know what I can tell you Joe is that because there's, as Cole pointed out earlier, it's a day and a half or a two-day pursuit, because they're on the tail of these fugitives. So once the story starts cooking, there's not enough room for our characters to go to other places. So, in other words, it would be very difficult to have Annie stop and go out to dinner or Cole to go home and visit with his girlfriend. So a lot of the character work is developed between the team members. And, I, and the writing staff, we think of them as a family, a family unit in and of themselves. And it shifts the same way. Yeah, it shifts the same way families do. So sometimes Annie and Jimmy are the mom and dad, other times they are the big brother and sister and then kind of Party of Five model, if you remember that television show, kind of all the siblings together. So it shifts but very much a family dynamic between them. You know Jimmy is the older brother to (Luke)'s younger brother. Jimmy and Annie are the head of the households. They're also - you know, there's chemistry between them but they have to keep it professional. We try to hit a lot of those layers in as many episodes as we can. And then, as Kelli pointed out, we do have a love interest coming in for Kelli and we're also going to meet Jimmy's girlfriend (Natalie) in upcoming episodes. But very much, the main focus is the task force as a family in and of itself and then how those outside relationships complicate what they are doing on the job.

Cole, do you have a thought about that?

Cole Hauser: Yeah, I just think that the relationship between Jimmy and Annie, you know, there's a professional love for each other which I actually think is really cool. I think that at times, Jimmy feels obligated to really watch her back, to help her in many ways that - she is so driven at times that pulling the reins back on her is something that she feels he needs to do. And I think that its something that you do for your partner, you know, if you care for them; and these two people do. They've been together, like we said, for a long time and they know of each other's tendencies. But also there are days where Annie's going through what she's going through and Jimmy notices why and he acts accordingly to it. So I think its very interesting to see - everybody's asking the question, is there going to be romance? And, you know what? Maybe (unintelligible) they will, maybe but at the same time, is that now? It is two people that love their jobs and respect and love each other in a professional way.

Chase premires on Monday, September 20 at 10 PM ET on NBC.