Andre Braugher Plays Gay On Andy Samberg’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

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Andre Braugher plays out Captain Ray Holt on Brooklyn Nine-Nine
(photo: Eddy Chen/Fox)

Outside of Glee, Fox isn’t necessarily the first place a gay viewer might head to watch him or herself represented but the tide may be turning as one new sitcom on the network, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a regular gay character…and that character is Captain Ray Holt, played by acclaimed actor Andre Braugher. The series also stars Andy Samberg (Saturday Night Live), Melissa Fumero and Terry Crews.

Following the TCA panel for the series, which premieres September 17th, we grabbed some time with Braugher and Executive Producer/Co-Creator Michael Schur (Parks & Recreation, The Office) to talk about what we can expect.

Being early in shooting, Braugher admitted, “I don’t know where the story arcs are headed so I’m not sure at all whether my husband will be on the set or what the story will be.” That said, he’s excited for the possibilities and added, “we live in a world with a lot of different kinds of people so consequently those stories need to be told also so I feel quite comfortable telling that story and telling it as truthfully as I can.”

Asked if this was the first time Braugher, who has gathered acclaim – and a few Emmys – in his lengthy career, has played a gay character, he said, “No, a lot of them were gay but you just didn’t know. The only time it was ever mentioned and established was a short film called It’s The Rage that I did back in 1999.” Asked if he would tell us who were the gay characters in his past that maybe only he knew was gay and he smiled and said, “Oh, I can’t tell you.”

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(l-r) Melissa Fumero, Terry Crews, Andy Samberg, Braugher, Stephanie Beatriz,
Joe Lo Truglio & Chelsea Peretti 

(photo: Beth Dubber/Fox)

As he would with any role, Braugher had a few concerns about the role and one of those was making sure Holt was not a stereotype. “I had a long conversation with Dan [Goor, Exec Producer/Co-Creator] in which he reassured me that this would not be a character that would embarrass me or embarrass any of the people that I love or people that I know so consequently I think we’re going to have something that’s going to be full and rich.”

Braugher also said that he could tell from Schur and Goor’s past work that he was in good hands. “I looked at Parks and the beauty of Parks is that these characters are constantly evolving. When you look at the first season and you look at the fifth season – I think that’s the only thing I’ve seen – these characters have grown immensely and they haven’t seemed to have forgotten their own life, they don’t relearn the same lesson week after week after week, they’re growing. This lets me know that Dan and Mike are mature writers and creators and so I can have confidence where the character is going to go.”

Schur explained to us the decision to make Captain Holt gay in the first place. “We wanted there to be a reason that [Holt is] the age he is without ever having run a precinct so we poked around and we did some research and we came up with this idea that maybe he came out and for awhile he was held back for that reason and then once it became a thing that the NYPD wanted to spin positively then he was shuttled into the public relations and public affairs and outreach and he’d just been on this weird trajectory that it prevented him from ever being the captain of a precinct.”

And Captain Holt is partnered, though we won’t meet his husband right away. “It’s not going to happen in the first 5 or 6 episodes at least…but we’ve always talked about meeting his husband and his husband being a character in the show. We have some ideas for theoretical actors and stuff and a vague idea of who the character is but I think it will be in the middle of the season.”

Brooklyn Nine-Nine premieres September 17th at 8:30pm on Fox.

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