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Kearran Giovanni: 'Major Crimes' actress has found her 'dream job'

| Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Kearran Giovanni
Marta Elena Vassilakis
Kearran Giovanni
Kearran Giovanni stars in TNT's 'Major Crimes.'
Kearran Giovanni stars in TNT's 'Major Crimes.'

Kearran Giovanni

Most people dread the requisite job training. All that boring minutiae can seem about as exciting as watching paint dry. That is, of course, unless your trainer happens to be a former Navy SEAL and the training manual is a gun.

In preparation for her role on the TNT drama “Major Crimes,” actress Kearran Giovanni learned the ropes from an expert, affording her a unique experience to learn much more than how to point and shoot. It provided a visual for how her character, detective Amy Sykes, would act and react in various situations, the behaviors and strategic approaches that bear the markings of a seasoned pro.

It enabled Giovanni to immerse herself in a much grittier role than she had played in the past. A successful career within the bright lights of Broadway was capped off with credits in a variety of productions including “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway,” “Anything Goes,” “Tarzan,” “Finian's Rainbow” and “Catch Me If You Can.” She's the first to admit she misses performing in front of a live audience every night, but it's more of a fond memory than a yearning to go back.

The role of Sykes is what she considers her “dream job.” Because, for this self-professed “dorky, sewing-machine mom,” the adrenaline surge is just too hard to resist.

Question: How amazing was it training with a former Navy SEAL to prepare for your role as detective Amy Sykes?

Answer: It was! You see people do it on TV, and you think, “Oh, that's so easy. How fun to carry a gun!” So, it wasn't just a cop saying walk here, do this, point and shoot. They have a much more strategic approach. And I got to shoot a million guns, which, who gets to do that on their day off? It was great.

Q: That's some pretty intense preparation.

A: My husband was super jealous. He wanted to come to the shooting range. Guys and firing things … Anyway! He was super jealous, and I grew up with two older brothers and though I don't hunt now, I hunted as a child. I'm from Texas, and down South, it's kind of the culture down there. They still get fascinated because they know me as such a dork and I'm a Type A personality, this dorky, sewing machine-owning, craft project mom, and they get to see me on TV and I've got a gun and am yelling at people.

Q: Was that intimidating?

A: Not really. I guess the correct answer would be yes, but more exciting than anything. I always wanted to play a cop, so I thought, “Oh, this is my dream! To play a cop!”

Q: Do you ever get the sense that our fascination with crime dramas is reflective of just how much we value closure in any given situation?

A: I guess you could say that it's about closure. I think it's also about a news phenomenon. You can run the news six times a day and show the same thing 10 times and it's the same news, but it's new to people. It's a fresh case, whodunit. I personally don't watch the news because it depresses me — it's murder, it's rape, its fraud.

Whatever it may be, there's a fascination with whodunit. And I think this show, why “The Closer” did so well and ours did so well, you get that kind of whodunit but you get a personal view of it. You're always going to see some sort of relationship happening between us and we kind of humanized the crime aspect of TV. People like to tune in to see a new story, but also what's going on behind the scenes.

Q: Was it easy to transition from Broadway to a grittier role such as Sykes?

A: Absolutely. Musical theater mostly on the surface is fluff, but there's a lot of back story in musical theater. The difference is a little more of yourself comes into play. You're not dressing up in beaded costumes and 2,000 people aren't staring at you as you sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” I do kind of miss theater. I miss the audience being there and the live, kind of adrenaline that you get from performing live every night. But I would not trade this for anything.

Q: So, in another life, you'd never want to have a career as an undercover detective?

A: Oh, no! I just like to pretend. It'd be exciting, I think, for a couple of weeks, and then I would want to go back to my regular life. In the last three episodes, my clothes are the same and when I asked them why, they're like, “Well, you couldn't have had time to change. You would have slept here (at the station) and kept going.” After three episodes I thought, “How do these people do it? How do they not have sleep all the time putting their life on the line?” I would much rather read the lines.”

Kate Benz is the social columnist for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-380-8515.

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