There have been a vast amount of films following the stories of police officers in the past, even just in the last year alone. Some highlight the admirable courage an officer can showcase, some point out flaws in the justice system and in those who carry it out, but with Joel Souza’s latest thriller “Crown Vic,” the storyline is not meant to sway audiences one way or another— it’s meant to show a real human story. “Crown Vic” follows the story of hardened and accomplished officer Ray (Thomas Jane) and rookie cop Nick Holland (Luke Kleintank) on Nick’s first shift on the job, and to say this night becomes eventful is an understatement. For Luke Kleintank, the story hits more of a familiar note after riding around on the same shift his character would have experienced with the LAPD. It’s the things he saw, and the experiences he lived with the officers that helped him frame his character and overall feel the reality of what the job requires every day. Kleintank sat down with Metro to give more insight into his character and the hard-hitting film.
Luke Kleintank on how “Crown Vic” realistically shows the harsh realities of being a police officer
What first drew you to the character of Nick Holland?
For me, I was always interested—ever since I started acting, I always thought it would be intriguing to play any man of service, especially a cop. Today they get a lot of flack, and the beautiful thing is as an actor you get the chance to spend time with these people working. I had the opportunity to see their side of things as opposed to reading whatever is in the news or through personal opinions. Nick himself is a newbie, he’s coming into this with wide-open eyes. He wants to do right by his family, and do right by his community, but I don’t think he’s ready for what’s about to hit him. They talk about this in the film, but he’s a little bit of a deer in the headlights— coming in thinking it’s all about protection, but he finds out he has to figure out some things along the way. But at his core, he has a lot of heart and humanity, and I feel like that’s what any man of service should have.
What sets “Crown Vic” apart from other films of the same genre?
It’s real. Thomas (Jane) and I ended up riding along with police officers about five or six times and we really got to speak to and see these guys on the job. I even had the chance to invite one of them out to the premiere at Tribeca. It definitely fits the bill as far as mainly the time they spend in the car. There are good cops and there are bad cops, and I don’t think we’re trying to speak on any one point in general, we’re just telling a human story.
Thomas Jane’s character makes a comment at the end of the film that Nick Holland reminds him of a younger version of himself, would you agree with that?
I would, to a degree. Ray is doing what he’s doing, but not as a dirty cop. You have the other dirty cops we showcase in the story played by Josh Hopkins and David Krumholtz, but Ray is a man doing what he has to do. Is he overstepping boundaries and using his power? Of course he is, but at the same time, you’ve got to ask the question: What would you do in the same situation? Whether or not you’re a cop, you would try to save your loved ones—he just happens to be a police officer. What I think is beautiful about this movie is there is a lot of gray area. It raises those questions, and it gets people talking. So I think [Nick] could be a younger version of him, they both went into it with the same kind of hopes and dreams. Ray went into this job thinking protect and serve, but with all of the weight that comes along with the job, it hardens you. You spend all of this time with negativity around you and you start to analyze people wondering if they are a threat or not. The other side of it is where they get to save people, and that’s the rewarding part. But 8 times out of 10 these guys are battling something that is going to affect their mentality in a great way. I had a chance to speak with them about it, and a lot of guys are in therapy just to cope with what they do. It’s a tough job.
I could see that, things seem to escalate so fast throughout even just one night of the movie.
They do, it gets very real very fast. One officer I did get to ride around with, I think it was a Friday night, there were some drunk and disorders, some people out, and a domestic dispute. We rolled up on those things, but overall the night was tame. He and I personally spent most of the night in the car together just getting to know each other and talking which was really interesting especially for getting ready for the film. But the very next night, he called me and told me how they went out and ended up with a triple homicide where a mother, grandmother and baby were shot—- so you really never know, stuff can escalate so quickly any night. That’s exactly what happens with Nick in the movie on that one particular night.
The ending was left a little open-ended for your character, what do you think the future holds for Nick Holland?
I think it’s undecided. Nick comes from a stock of police officers and I think he now realizes why his dad was so silent when he would come home after a shift. He talks about not having a relationship with his father and how he’s afraid of messing up with his own child on the way. But I think Nick has a lot to offer with fresh eyes, and hopefully, he sticks with honestly protecting and serving. But it’s interesting because Ray says it at the end, “You have to do things on other people’s behalf, and they will hate you for it.” There’s a lot of truth in that.
“Crown Vic” opens in NYC Nov. 8 and additional cities Nov. 15