Leelee Sobieski certainly goes against type in her first-ever regular series role — playing an Iraq War MP-turned-tough cookie rookie cop in CBS’s April 15-debuting “NYC 22″ police drama. She’s convincing, especially in moments like when she gets a juvenile thug in an armlock to make sure he understands the importance of treating her with respect. But as soon as the director called “Cut” in that scene, she was saying “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” the actress recalls.
“He was really so cute — like a little angel kid. It’s very hard when you have to do some stuff like that. I’m always going around giving everyone hugs,” admits Leelee.
She tells us she didn’t have to think twice about taking the role. Executive producers Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal were a lure, “of course.” Also, “I’ve always loved Richard Price’s writing,” she says of the esteemed author, whose credits include Lush Life and The Wanderers, as well as scripts for “The Color of Money,” “Sea of Love” and HBO’s “The Wire.” Price created “NYC 22″ in addition to being another executive producer.
Leelee has major personal considerations as well. “It’s wonderful to be able to shoot in New York. My husband and daughter and I live here. My whole family is based here — my mother, mother-in-law, grandmother-in-law, brother and sister-in-law are all here and a lot of friends, too. And I liked that it was an ensemble piece,” The schedule allows her to spend days at home with her little girl between shooting.
Raising a two-year-old “is much harder than doing the acting,” she lets us know with a laugh.
The “Joan of Arc” star gleaned “interesting little things to put into my character” from talking to real NYPD officers, both women and men. “I went up to a lot of cops on the street. The female officers have to be really strong. I hadn’t realized that, for a police officer in first few days on the job, some of them almost felt like they were playing the part of a cop, too,” she notes. She also learned that the gun belt, “is really hard on women who have hips. It goes from side to side; it’s moving around a lot. It digs into your headphones.”
With the first season’s episodes of “NYC 22″ in the can, Leelee is currently focusing on “just being a mom, and then also, I like to paint. I think I might even eventually segue into doing that as my main thing,” she discloses. The silence and solitude of painting seems worlds away from the art of acting, but Leelee observes candidly, “I think I’ve never been too flashy of an actress or whatever. And it’s really not so different; it’s also a great outlet for emotions. There are lots of actors who enjoy painting, a lot of directors that paint, too.”