Andre Braugher reflects on his cop roles: 'I, too, have fallen prey to the mythology'

The "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" star hopes to see more police shows accurately reflect the state of policing.
Andre Braugher plays Captain Ray Holt on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."
Andre Braugher plays Captain Ray Holt on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."Courtesy Everett Collection / 20th Century Fox
/ Source: TODAY

Andre Braugher has played a variety of cop roles over the years, but the actor said he's now re-examining his past work and is encouraging the industry to create storylines that accurately portray the state of policing in the United States.

“I look up after all these decades of playing these characters, and I say to myself, it’s been so pervasive that I’ve been inside this storytelling, and I, too, have fallen prey to the mythology that’s been built up,” Braugher, 58, told Variety.

“It’s almost like the air you breathe or the water that you swim in. It’s hard to see. But because there are so many cop shows on television, that’s where the public gets its information about the state of policing," he said. "Cops breaking the law to quote, ‘defend the law,’ is a real terrible slippery slope. It has given license to the breaking of law everywhere, justified it and excused it. That’s something that we’re going to have to collectively address — all cop shows.”

Two of Braugher's best known roles happen to be on cop shows. In "Homicide: Life on the Streets," Braugher played Detective Frank Pembleton and won the Emmy in 1998 for outstanding lead actor in a drama series. He's also been nominated four times for his performance on the police comedy show "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," where he plays Captain Ray Holt.

The show has previously addressed racial profiling and will include an episode on police brutality in the upcoming season, according to Variety. Braugher said he's glad the show will take on such an important topic.

"It could be a really groundbreaking season that we’re all going to be very, very proud of, or we’re going to fall flat on our face. … But I think this is a staff, a cast and a crew that’s willing to take it on and give it our best. I think we have a damn good chance to tell the kinds of stories that heretofore have only been seen on grittier shows," he said.