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‘Murder in the First' star Taye Diggs: I always wanted to be an actor

By Patricia Sheridan
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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HANDOUT - TNT
Actor Taye Diggs stars as a homicide detective in Steven Bochco’s new series, “Murder in the First.” premiering on TNT June 9.

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From Broadway’s “Rent” to the silver screen’s “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” to TV’s “Private Practice,” actor Scott Leo “Taye” Diggs has entertained and strutted his way into the hearts of viewers.

Those hearts broke a little with the news last year of his separation from Idina Menzel, his wife of 10 years. They have one son.

Taye is an abreviation of Scottaye, which is what friends called him. The 43-year-old is now starring in TNT’s original series “Murder in the First,” which premiered Monday at 10 p.m.

Q. Were you concerned about doing just another crime drama or did you find something special in this script?

A. Yes, I did find something special and it doesn’t have necessarily anything to do with its success. It is more to do with my interest and my desire to participate. As an actor in this game, not knowing the future kind of goes with the territory. You jump in with both feet and hope for the best. I’m just thankful for the opportunities that I have had to have the chance to play another cop, and an ER doctor, you know – all these different kinds of characters just get added to the list. And this kind of new, exciting perspective of one case that spans the entire season.

Q. Has it always been easy for you to slide into character?

A. Luckily it has always been in the writing, so once I kind of say the words and get some wardrobe action going, I get into character.

Q. Is there a downside to becoming recognizable to the public?

A. I’m kind of lucky because I think of myself as a working actor and I’m not a Kim Kardashian who can’t step out of a building. You know, when I’m through with this interview, I will walk outside and there won’t be a throng of cameras following me. I’ll go to the gym and have a regular day. I am in the perfect place where I can work consistently and reap the benefits of getting reservations or getting seats at the ball game.

Q. In “Murder in the First” you play a guy with pent-up frustrations about his wife dying. Are you the type to let things build up, or are you more expressive?

A. I’m pretty expressive. Just having been an actor for a while and having gone to a college that allowed me to major in musical theater, I’ve never had an issue expressing feelings. That being said, I’m a bit of a control freak.... Mentally, a lot of times, I will think everything is fine and if it’s not, it will manifest itself in my body and then I will get sick. Then I’ll realize, OK, this must be stress.

Q. Your mom was a teacher; did she ever worry about you getting into a field that is so fickle as far as constant employment?

A. I don’t remember. I am in the process of writing a lot of personal stories down. So that is something I will actually ask my mother for this memoir. I know that I caught the bug from her. When she wasn’t working she was in community theater and also ended up going back to school for theater and dance, so I attribute it to her and being around that vibe. That ensemble vibe is what attracted me to the stage, so she was always very encouraging.

Whether it was overconfidence or cockiness, I knew this is what I was going to be doing for the rest of my life. I got lucky, I suppose.

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