In CBS’ new crime drama, which kicks off 15 years after the 2001 film, idealistic cop Kyle Craig (Justin Cornwell) is tasked to go undercover in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Special Investigation Section (SIS) by becoming the new partner to the morally ambiguous Detective Frank Roarke (Bill Paxton). Law’s streak for playing exceedingly complex female characters -- see Mira in Spartacus and Nyssa al Ghul in Arrow -- continues with Training Day, where she steps into the role of Detective Rebecca Lee, whose past is anything but rosy.
Rebecca’s loyalty to the force is a declaration of her allegiance to Frank, after he “saved her from human trafficking when she was ,” Law explains in a recent interview with ET. “And ever since then, she’s looked up to him -- as not only a hero but also a father figure.” What will come to light as the series progresses is that Rebecca’s challenging upbringing (“her entire life has been spent in and out of foster homes”) forced her to seek out a stabilizing force: “Frank has been one of the few steadying figures in her life and eventually, she wanted to follow in his footsteps.”
That meant following him to the LAPD. Law says Rebecca is “definitely ride or die” for Frank -- and her partner, Detective Tommy Campbell (Drew Van Acker), as well. “They’re the only family that she knows,” says the 31-year-old actress, who consulted with friends in the police force in Los Angeles and back in her home state of New Jersey for insight. “She trusts them with her life and she would die for them as well.”
Things get complicated when Kyle, whose late father was Frank’s old partner, comes into the picture, threatening loyalties between Frank, Rebecca and Tommy. “When Kyle comes in, she’s going ‘I’ve never heard of this guy. I don’t know where he came from. I don’t know how he got here. I don’t trust this entire situation,’” Law previews, adding that that “creates a lot of tension” among the core group. “[Rebecca] has had such a dark path and it’s so intricate, but at the same time, she did choose a line of work where her main goal is to make sure that what happened to her never happens to another human being again. That being said, how she goes about it is everything that this show is about.”
“It’s a question of: Do the ends justify the means? What is necessary force and what is excessive force, and how do you feel about the militarization of the police force? And if you don’t agree with what they’re doing, how would you go about getting the same results?” she continues.
But don’t think Rebecca turns a blind eye to Frank’s off-the-book methods of getting the job done. “She is very much aware of what Frank does and she loves him for it. A lot of the time she goes along with them,” Law says, making a point to add that Rebecca does “question” and “challenge” her mentor’s actions. “She isn’t too far from Frank in those regards. The world is very gray for her and there is no right or wrong, at least in her eyes.”
Law points to two future episodes as being particularly poignant for her. An early episode sheds more light on Rebecca’s traumatic childhood where viewers learn more about how her upbringing shaped who she is. “You find out what the SIS division and what this job means to her,” she hints. The other episode Law highlights serves as a showcase for Van Acker’s performance as Tommy, where his character’s backstory is explored further. “Drew just knocked it out of the park,” Law says, praising her onscreen partner. “There is so much heart in this episode and it’s heartbreaking. It’s beautiful and I can’t wait for people to see that episode.”
Training Day premieres Thursday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.