Why Deputy's Stephen Dorff Went With Another Cop Drama After True Detective

True Detective Stephen Dorff Roland West Mahershala Ali Wayne Hays HBO

(Image credit: Warrick Page / HBO)

Stephen Dorff is no stranger to cop-centric dramas, having starred in the third season of HBO’s True Detective as Detective Roland West. If you thought that Dorff’s days playing a police officer were over, think again. He has a new Fox show entitled Deputy, and in it, he plays the eponymous character.

In Deputy, Stephen Dorff plays Bill Hollister, a long-time deputy who ends up in the role of sheriff following the implementation of an “arcane rule.” Described as a Western (they are all the buzz these days), Deputy marks the True Detective star’s next cop drama. What made him decide to do it? Dorff told EW:

I was coming off True Detective and a lot of things were coming my way — films and other shows, cable stuff — but nothing was really on the level of True Detective and that writing and that experience. Deputy was in there, and I wasn’t really thinking I was going to do a network show after coming from such a creative cable experience, but then David Ayer kept popping up. I was attracted to David Ayer in the sense that I’ve liked his movies — Fury and End of Watch — and I thought, ‘He’s a really good director and maybe in this day and age it doesn’t really matter, there’s nine million places with content to watch, so you’ve got to start with character and director, and whether it’s Hulu or Quibi or this one or that one, who gives a shit that it’s on network? It’s going to reach more people if we make something good.’

So, you can thank the involvement of Suicide Squad helmer David Ayer for helping get Stephen Dorff to star in Deputy. Ayer is the co-creator of Deputy, alongside Will Beall. In explaining the draw of working with Ayer, Dorff referenced two of his movies: Fury and End of Watch, with the latter being a moving cop drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña.

Stephen Dorff has high praise for End of Watch, which is currently streaming on Netflix, by the way, if you want to see the film. Dorff was so excited about David Ayer’s involvement that he ultimately decided to move forward with a leap to Deputy’s network setting. For reference, True Detective was on HBO, while Deputy airs on Fox.

Network television versus premium cable was not the only thing that Stephen Dorff had to consider when deciding to join Deputy. Coming off of the answer-fulfilling third season of True Detective, Dorff had, obviously, just finished an intense cop drama, so he needed to decide whether or not he wanted to go back to the same well so soon.

It would have made sense if he did not want to get caught in a genre loop. When asked if he was reluctant about following up the HBO series with a return to the force, Stephen Dorff said:

There are only so many things that you can play. [Laughs] It’s always a cop or it’s a doctor; we’ve kind of seen every different kind of character. It’s all really in the execution and vision of each specific thing. As far as cop to cop, I think it’s weird that there’s a cowboy quality to both characters, but that’s very different. Roland West was a rodeo cultured guy through three decades, we meet him in the ‘80s and he went all the way through 2015. In this, we’re in a modern world in 2019 but Bill drives a ’78 Bronco, he rides horses sometimes to work. He’s a rancher who lives in Santa Clarita and he comes from three generations of law enforcement that has been in the Sheriff’s Department, so his world is catching bad guys and he has that oath that he lives by. There’s a real honesty to him.

It sounds like there was so much that set Deputy and True Detective apart that concerns of a retread did not pose much of an issue. Stephen Dorff points out some differences between the two characters and the context of their journeys. True Detective weaved through the past, for instance, but Deputy is set in the present.

Television viewers will not have to wait too much longer for their chance to compare Stephen Dorff’s cop shows. Deputy is one of the midseason’s new offerings. There is a lot of reason to expect that Dorff’s new show will shake things up from True Detective. One thing setting the crime dramas apart is locale.

Deputy is set in California, while Season 3 of the HBO crime anthology took place in Arkansas. The cowboy mystique that Stephen Dorff teases should definitely get True Detective fans intrigued, and it sounds like Yellowstone fans could also get reeled into it.

Find out what Stephen Dorff gets up to in his new cop drama when Deputy premieres on Thursday, January 2, at 9 p.m. ET on Fox. The Western crime procedural is one of this winter’s premieres.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.