Don’t blink.

This may not seem like the most profound or technically complicated piece of advice for Calgary native Melissa O’Neil to absorb as she negotiated a steep learning curve for her new role as Lucy Chen in the American police drama, The Rookie. But it has apparently stayed with the actress as she films the series in Los Angeles.

It’s one of the hard-and-fast rules she learned, even if it sounds a bit “silly” on the surface.

“Cops don’t blink,” says the 30-year-old with a laugh, during a break from filming in late September. “They are conditioned to keep their eyes open when they are being shot at. We had this crazy scene that involved an AK-47. I’m telling you, even with blanks, that is a wild experience to be on the other side of and not one I would recommend. But it’s definitely been quite the learning experience.”

O’Neil is the first to admit that thinking about such things is not what she would have predicted for herself even five years ago. But since early March, she has been running around the streets of L.A. shooting guns, not blinking and dodging AK-47 fire with fellow Albertan Nathan Fillion, who has the starring role in the much-hyped new ABC action-drama. For a performer who first gained prominence at the age of 17 as the winner of the third season of Canadian Idol, playing a cop on an American TV series was not something O’Neil saw in her future as she spent her initial post-Idol years pursuing a career in musical theatre.

“The big craft, I think, in this profession is to live life fully so that you can be a well-rounded person and allow that to inform any part that comes down the pike,” she says. “The more you experience, the more you allow yourself to be, the more you can portray in other spaces. I certainly didn’t imagine at any point that my life would take me down this road.”

The Rookie, which debuts in Canada on CTV on Oct. 16, explores the experiences of the newest members of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Created by Alexi Hawley, twin brother of Fargo creator Noah and a former writer-producer on Fillion’s ABC series Castle, The Rookie is a fast-paced and well-acted drama that seems a bit of a TV throwback to the pre-specialty cable golden era of major network cop series.

The L.A.P.D. is a unique culture …read more



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Green in Blue: Calgary’s Melissa O’Neil hits the mean streets of L.A. as newbie cop in The Rookie

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