The Rookie just went out with yet another bang. The season 2 finale ended with a jaw-dropping twist: Armstrong framed Nolan as another mole in the police department. Rachel also left for Los Angeles, but she and Bradford agreed to give their long-distance relationship a shot. HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with Eric Winter about how he thinks Bradford is going to handle what’s happened to Nolan and the kind of impact it’ll have on The Rookie crew as a whole.
HollywoodLife also discussed the relationship between Bradford and Lucy. Their connection has continued to grow over the past 2 seasons, especially after her kidnapping in the midseason premiere. Eric admitted that he would be totally on board with their relationship going in a romantic direction, but he believes in the slow burn. He talked about the feelings Bradford has for Lucy and why it’s “frustrating” for his character. See our full Q&A below.
Bradford is a practical guy. Do you think Bradford is going to be sold on what Armstrong ‘s done to frame Nolan? Do you think he’ll be skeptical?
Eric Winter: I think he will be skeptical. I really don’t have any idea of where that would go, but me knowing Bradford and the way that I think he’s also garnered some respect for Nolan over the past few seasons, I think there’s no way he buys into that. I think he’s going to hear it out, hear everybody’s opinions on it. Maybe there are others that might feed into it more, but I think Bradford might become the person of reason in that situation and surprise me. He could even stand up for him. I don’t know, but I don’t think he would buy it.
This is a game-changing moment for not just Nolan but everyone in the unit. How do you think this will impact everyone in a potential season 3?
Eric Winter: It’s huge because, obviously, Nolan’s career could fall on the line. He could be charged and dropped from the academy. Everything would change. It’s huge in that respect. I think that’s another way you’re going to see our group come together. Because the ones that are going to be skeptical, like let’s just say Bradford was one of them, I think he would go to bat for Nolan and really try to disprove it because I think the one thing that he doesn’t like is someone like Armstrong trying to set him up. Someone who’s been in the system longer and misusing it. I think he would really want to go and hunt those people.
The Chenford fandom has really really taken off this season. How do you feel about it?
Eric Winter: I couldn’t be happier to be part of it. They picked this duo and turned them into Chenford and Tucy. It’s amazing, because going into the show, I don’t think anybody predicted that or thought that was even in the future. I think Alexi [Hawley] had a lot of things lined up structurally without these characters’ relationships, but as seasons go on and characters grow and the actors bring what they do, everybody evolves. Fans have a strong voice and fans really took to this tough love of Bradford just all over this girl and her taking it, pushing back, and delivering. It turned into this super powerful platonic love that everyone wants to see it be more than that. I say it to Melissa [O’Neill] all the time and I said it on Instagram Live, I give so much credit to the fans helping to build something because you really see the power of fans. They really helped build that story out. It’s great to see. I’m fully supportive, and I love where it’s going. I love the slow burn of at all. I think it’s not something you’d want to see happen anyways while they’re in the rookie phase of training.
Especially after the midseason premiere, Bradford had a lot of guilt about what happened to Lucy. Even though he’s still tough on her, you can tell he’s still very worried about her. Do you think there’s ever a time he won’t feel so protective of her?
Eric Winter: My personal feeling about this relationship with Lucy is I think Bradford’s tough on all his boots and I think he takes him as his children under his wing and treats them with a really tough love because that’s kind of what he’s used to and what he’s known his whole life. He wants them to take it all seriously. What I think the difference is with Lucy is of all his past rookies, she is someone that really returns fire with care, right? When he was going through stuff with Isabel, she was the one there trying to protect him and keep him from getting into trouble and going down the wrong path. She’s constantly looked out for him even though he tells her not to. She’s returned that tough love with a lot of care back, and I don’t know that he’s experienced that with any other rookie. So to answer your question, I think he’s going to continue to be tough on her, but it’s different. I think he’s always going to worry and care about her because I think there’s something more with him than just another rookie. Whether it’s deeper friendship or whether it’s going to be love, whatever the case is, she’s not his typical rookie.
Would you be on board with it going in a romantic direction?
Eric Winter: Totally. I think it’d be great to see it develop. I don’t think it should be something that happens all of a sudden like him and Rachel or Lucy and Emmett where they’re in bed one day and, boom, they’re together. That moment when and if it happens… We always joke it’s the Ross and Rachel moment. Everybody’s waiting for this to happen. Will it ever happen? Well, if it does happen, are they going to screw it up? It needs to be fumbled and bumbled and messed around until that spark happens. It’ll be that much bigger. You know, when I gave her CPR when I rescued her, everybody took it like I made out with her.
Do you think Bradford is in love with Lucy?
Eric Winter: I know fans think that we’re both in love with each other. I think there are real and new feelings emerging for Bradford that is making it very frustrating for him. Because I don’t think he’s ever had this happen. With his ex-wife, they were in the academy together and they came up together. This is different. I don’t think he’s ever had this sort of muster of emotion and feeling for a rookie. I don’t think he’s ever allowed it. I think his walls are so thick and hard, especially because he met his wife in the academy, so he wouldn’t really be doing that anyway. He was married. But I think this is the first time that hard exterior is being chipped away by someone who’s been persistent. I do think there is a real care and love that’s evolving into more that is frustrating for him because he’s not sure how to deal with it or how to process it. We always joke on set… Who would make the first move? Would it be Chen or Bradford if it were to happen?
In the first season, Bradford was very much this really stone-cold training officer. We’ve seen his softer side in season 2. What’s that been like for you to really explore a deeper, more emotional side of this character?
Eric Winter: It really is one of the more challenging characters I’ve had to play. Alexi talked about this early on because in TV world every episode is such a slow build in real life for them. Everything is a slow pursuit and it’s very tempting for an actor to want to jump ahead with different emotions right away. So for him to really be able to play this balance of how little Bradford shows with emotion, how stoic he can be, and when he shows emotions and over what things, and what his triggers are, it’s been fun to dissect as an actor for this type of character. It’s not as easy to be that stoic or that serious and tough and angry. He’s a very battered human. He’s got a lot of issues. He’s a broken guy. It’s been to see him shed off those layers little by little and show a softer side of who maybe he was the day he got into the academy. You can see how much the job has probably changed and shaped him. For those moments of bringing those out, it’s been really fun to peel back and show more and more and how he is with his training officers versus how he is with the other rookies. It’s been an incredible ride.