Warning: SPOILERS for the season 5 finale of The Rookie.Given its stellar rankings and devoted viewers, it got here as no shock when ABC opted to resume The Rookie for season 6. Season 5 of the Nathan-Fillion-led police procedural introduced a number of adjustments, with Nolan receiving a golden ticket for his heroic actions on the border and formally turning into the coaching officer of Celina Juarez—the present’s newest addition. Nevertheless, probably the most drastic shift of all includes the connection between Tim Bradford and his former boot, Lucy Chen. For years, a Chenford romance was respectively off the desk as a result of energy dynamic at play and the boundaries established amongst rookies and coaching officers.
However as soon as Lucy finishes her probationary yr and the 2 proceed using collectively as sergeant and aide, their emotions for each other change into unavoidable. The rigorously crafted arc lastly involves a head when Tim and Lucy have a heart-to-heart in Season 5, Episode 8, directed by Robert Bella. On the time, “The Collar” was the season’s highest-rated installment, and was later bested by the director’s subsequent episode, “The Checklist.” Bella wears many hats in relation to his work on The Rookie and has additionally served as a author and co-executive producer. As well as, he has directed episodes of the present’s spinoff collection, The Rookie: Feds, and gained a number of awards for his characteristic movie Colin Fitz Lives!
Display Rant spoke with Bella about working with showrunner Alexi Hawley and stars Eric Winter and Melissa O’Neil to do Chenford’s highly-anticipated romance justice, in addition to his transition into full-time directing.
Director Robert Bella Talks The Rookie Season 5
Display Rant: Congratulations on one other wonderful season of The Rookie!
Robert Bella: Thanks. It is such a proficient group of individuals and such an incredible writing employees and solid and crew. After which, after all, all of it begins with Alexi on the high. It has been a very enjoyable trip for 5 years for me.
The finale felt like a horror movie. It was terrifying. Have you learnt why the writers’ room select Aaron to be the preliminary goal and propel that storyline?
Robert Bella: I do not know. I will be sincere! Final season, I used to be spending numerous time directing. And so I’d be off directing certainly one of my episodes, and I would not be within the room for these conversations. Now that I am segwaying into directing solely and [I’m] not within the writers room, I’ve those self same actual questions. I am like, “Wait, what?! Oh no! Is he coming again?!”
So that you had been simply as shocked!
Robert Bella: Sure! Completely! I’ve learn the scripts and whatnot, however by way of the dialog, to reply your query, I do not know. I’d be making issues up if I advised you I knew precisely how that went down. You possibly can actually inform me that Tim and Lucy had been going to retire and transfer to the south of France, and I would be like, “I will watch that present! Okay, I am in!” So now that I am a quote, “director,” unquote, I am extra of a fan than ever earlier than.
How a lot time did you spend within the writers’ room throughout season 5? Have been you part of that course of?
Robert Bella: Yeah, as a result of we normally have not less than a month, typically longer, earlier than episodes begin taking pictures. So I feel the writers room final yr opened actually early in Could. After which we did not begin taking pictures, I feel till mid-June—one thing like that. So there was all that point within the writers room. After which, pretty rapidly, I feel it was episode 2, I used to be requested to be the onset producer for episode 502.
So I used to be possibly three days into being on set for that out of the writers room after which that is once I received the decision about Feds 103. A director had gotten COVID, and they also had been brief a director and Alexi and Terence known as me on a Sunday, they usually had been like, “Hey, how would you wish to direct an episode of Feds?” I mentioned, “I’d like to direct an episode of Feds.” They usually had been like, “Nice, you begin on Friday.”
That is wonderful. I do know you’ve got been doing each, which feels like numerous work, but in addition extremely enjoyable.
Robert Bella: It is such enjoyable. They’re each uniquely totally different and but comparable vibes by way of the standard of the individuals concerned. The Rookie, at this level, it has been 5 years. It is a household of people that’ve labored collectively for therefore lengthy and the crew is aware of precisely what to do, and the solid has received it down chilly. After which displaying up on Feds for episode 3—it was a brand-new crew. It was solely their third episode and no one was actually fairly sure.
It was numerous enjoyable being concerned within the very early phases of that present, simply to assist be part of that technique of the invention of how an episode of Feds is made. After which jumped to later within the season, as a result of I did Feds 103, after which I did The Rookie 508 and 510, after which went again to Feds for 117. So I used to be on the very starting of Feds, after which in the direction of the tip of the season of Feds. At that time, they had been all like, “Oh, yeah, we received this down.” It was a enjoyable arc to observe.
Did you find yourself writing any episodes for season 5 of The Rookie?
Robert Bella: I wrote components. I wrote bits and items. We do numerous group writing, so I did numerous contributing. However I did not get any episode credited to me as a author as a result of I used to be directing a lot.
Nolan grew to become a coaching officer this yr, however was that all the time the plan whenever you had been mapping out the seasons? He clearly could not keep a rookie endlessly.
Robert Bella: I do not need to converse for Alexi, however I am fairly positive that he had all the time had that type of an arc in thoughts. I feel it was a coaching officer. I am unable to keep in mind what we talked about in season 1. His first yr as a rookie received expanded, partially since you need to inform these tales, after which partially, at one level, due to COVID. It was like, “Okay, let’s simply hold him a rookie for a short time.” However there was all the time dialogue early on of, “Sooner or later, the present has to evolve, and he has to evolve.”
It was like, “Properly, okay, then he’ll be the rookie T.O. and he’ll be coaching new rookies.” So there was all the time that dialogue early on about methods to hold that idea alive. The specifics of precisely when it was landed as to when he’d be a T.O. I do not keep in mind, however I do do not forget that early on there was clearly dialogue that in some unspecified time in the future he would transfer up the ladder.
I like Celina and her relationship with Nolan. She’s such an amazing addition to the collection.
Robert Bella: I keep in mind being within the room for that after we would speak about who she may be. It was, “What can be an amazing problem for Nathan and for Nolan to have as a rookie? Who’s he going to coach?” We pitched a bunch of stuff after which Alexi type of fell in love with the thought of Celina.
She additionally has a very enjoyable dynamic with Nolan and Bailey. Typically they really feel like her adopted mother and father.
Robert Bella: Sure! I received actually fortunate. I received two nice episodes of The Rookie to direct and certainly one of them was 508. At that time, she was sleeping over at Nolan’s home quite a bit. The home was haunted and Nolan says, “The one unwelcomed visitor on this home is you.” [Laughs] I cherished the supply. She was just like the adopted daughter who he did not really need.
I am unsure in the event you would know the reply to this, however followers have requested—and I have been questioning about it myself—we have not seen Kojo this season!
Robert Bella: [Laughs] Everybody’s asking about Kojo!
Sure! Is Kojo okay?
Robert Bella: I am unable to converse for the manufacturing as an entire, however I can converse as a director and a producer—it is tough to work with animals. It slows the day down, and it makes issues rather more difficult. Despite the fact that that canine is an incredible actor canine, you are all the time pressed for time on a set. And it’s important to dedicate further time as a result of the canine would not really feel like doing what you are asking it to do. There’s that previous cliché, the previous adage of, “By no means work with animals and youngsters.”
And there is a cause why, and it is normally due to time. Properly, partially on the manufacturing facet, due to the time that it takes and the additional value that that creates. I like animals and canines specifically, so anytime they’re on set, I am simply all the time thrilled. However then, after all, the trainers are all the time like, “Yeah, you actually cannot speak to them proper now. They’re working. We have to hold them centered.” And I am like, “Oh, okay. However I simply need to play with the canine!”
We did not see Tim’s home both, however I am guessing that is a location and Lucy’s house is a set?
Robert Bella: Lucy’s is a set. Tim’s began off as a location. After which in some unspecified time in the future…I am unable to keep in mind if it simply received to be too difficult, or the proprietor would not allow us to movie there. Once we had been taking pictures on Warner Brothers, it was proper close by. Now that we’re at Paramount, it is even additional away and fewer handy. Sometimes, we might construct a set of his bed room, recreating the bed room within the location. And who is aware of, down the road, what the plan is.
Properly, we have now to speak slightly bit about Chenford…
Robert Bella: Yeah! I completely scored as a director. I received to direct 508, which is after they lastly admit their emotions for one another. I used to be like, “Oh my God!” It was the highest-rated episode of season 5, till episode 510, which I additionally received to direct, which is now the highest-rated episode of season 5, and that is after they go on their first date. And so I received to do the episode the place they admit their emotions after which the episode the place they go on their first date. I used to be like, “Oh my God. A lot enjoyable!”
The scenes themselves had been superbly completed. Are you able to give some perception into directing these?
Robert Bella: I used to be truly fascinated about placing one thing out on social media, type of like an anatomy of a scene from a director’s viewpoint. The scene the place they lastly admitted it—the final scene of 508—on the very starting of the day, Melissa and Eric got here to me, they usually had been like, “We love this scene. It is lovely. Can we speak about possibly making some tiny tweaks to the script?” And so I reached out to Alexi, and he was like, “Completely. No matter they need to do, let me know.” And all through the course of the day, as a result of it was one of many final scenes we had been going to shoot on the day—however on the very starting of the morning we began speaking about it. And because the day progressed, there have been little tiny shifts to the script.
We’d work collectively—me and Eric and Melissa—after which we might shoot it off to Alexi, after which he would rework it and ship it again to us, after which we might tweak it slightly bit extra. It advanced very, little or no after we had been taking pictures it, but it surely was a very pretty course of to observe how invested as actors they had been in wanting this scene to be good. After which, reciprocally, from Alexi’s viewpoint of “Completely, we have to make it possible for that is good. This is a vital scene.” It was nice to have been part of that course of. The opposite problem for me, as a director, significantly with that scene, was that it was scripted that it takes place within the car parking zone exterior the station. I used to be like, “There’s nothing romantic a few bunch of police vehicles.”
I used to be like, “That is the primary time they admit their love. It needs to be lovely, and it has to have a specific amount of softness to it and romance to it.” So I received to that location early that day and simply scoured across the entrance of the constructing. It is like a carport. And so I actually simply received there about half an hour earlier than anyone else and simply walked each single inch of that seeking to try to visualize what can be probably the most engaging angles the place you noticed the fewest quantity of police vehicles, however you continue to knew you had been on the station. After which, in the end, we settled on placing them on the sting of this planter. There is a border the place the vegetation are, and I used to be like, “Okay, nicely that is fairly. That is engaging.” You are still on the station, however not less than it has a softer look than standing subsequent to a police automobile.
Personally, I like that you just did it exterior the station. They nearly had that dialog within the car parking zone in the course of the season 4 finale, so I believed it was an unimaginable full-circle second.
Robert Bella: I considered that too. However, in the end, visually, it simply felt essential to me that or not it’s elegant and delightful. Actually, their performances would have completed that standing subsequent to a store, however I simply thought seeing these flowers and seeing that shade would give it a barely totally different texture.
Because you had been within the writers’ room on the time, was Lucy’s undercover profession all the time meant to create battle between her and Tim? Or did you simply really feel it was a pure route for the character to take?
Robert Bella: It is hazy to me as a result of the dialogue was had a few years again, however I do do not forget that we did speak about how it could be an amazing alternative for Melissa to have the ability to play totally different sorts of roles and go undercover. After which as a result of Tim’s first spouse was an undercover cop, there was alternative there for super battle of “I need to help you. I imagine in you,” on the one hand. However, his spouse nearly died doing undercover work. So Alexi was all the time clear that there was actually nice dramatic potential there.
You introduced Isabel again this season! We’ve not seen her since season 1.
Robert Bella: Yeah, that was Alexi. That was Alexi. He got here within the room in the future, and he was like, “Yeah, we’ll convey Isabel again,” and we had been like, “Okay!”
Was Mircea Monroe excited to return again to the present?
Robert Bella: Sure. I feel that they had dinner. I feel that is what occurred. He had gone out to dinner along with her or one thing. She’s pretty. I had identified her as an actress from so many different issues, however particularly from Episodes, the Matt LeBlanc TV present. So she’s an incredible comedic actress and that is what I knew her as. After which to observe the transformation from these early episodes within the present—it was so spectacular to see her go to these darkish locations when all I knew that she had completed was comedies.
There’s one thing followers have been questioning about for years that goes all the best way again to season 2. Did you ever focus on within the writers’ room whether or not Lucy determined to maintain the “Day of Loss of life” tattoo?
Robert Bella: Oh, yeah, we talked about that. Alexi was all the time very clear that she would hold it. I feel it is even within the episode. I appear to recall Alexi feeling like, for her, that might change into, not a badge of honor, however a approach of claiming to herself, “Sure, I am alive. I survived.” I do not know if that is modified since then. Actually, you do not have to fret about it, for probably the most half, by way of publicity, however I keep in mind [that] actually clearly.
Out of all of the scenes that you have directed for The Rookie and The Rookie: Feds, which had been your favorites?
Robert Bella: These scenes with Tim and Lucy, and the date scenes as nicely. In 510, the second first date, once more, I feel we ended the episode on it in 510. Within the script, it is written that they had been at a meals truck on the road nook. And once more, I used to be like, “A meals truck on a avenue nook isn’t romantic, and it is their second date, and I feel Tim’s going to need to do it proper.” So a meals truck makes good sense as a result of most of their life, by way of work, they’d have meals at meals vehicles, however I used to be like, “I would like it to be an attractive meals truck. I would like it to be a romantic meals truck.” And there was numerous backwards and forwards by way of, “Okay, the place would that be?”
After which as a result of the schedule saved shifting, I feel we selected like three or 4 totally different places, after which, finally, we went again to the one which was my first selection, however at first, fell out for scheduling causes. After which finally it got here again to, “Okay, we’ll return to your first selection,” which I used to be thrilled about. We received to take this little park and dangle these lights, and simply make it look actually, actually, lovely, and but true to who they had been, versus their first, first date, which was this elegant restaurant, they usually’re each type of awkward and uncomfortable in it. It was nice to take them from that location to at least one that was extra true to who they’re as characters.
Hastily, they’ve some takeout meals and a few beer versus this fancy restaurant the place they each could not determine what to say to at least one one other. I cherished having the ability to be a part of that arc, each from 508 to after they speak about it after which into 510 when it lastly will get realized. After which, in Feds, in 117, I simply thought it was such an attractive episode as a result of it was an episode that was all about people who find themselves holding grudges. It was one thing that I talked about quite a bit with the solid of “How will we create an emotional arc for every of them, from after they begin holding the grudge to studying to let it go?” It was mirrored and echoed in a lot of relationships and a lot of scenes in that.
So it was much less about one particular scene in that episode for me because it was extra concerning the pleasure of working with actors who had been keen to actually create a starting, center, and finish and an arc and actually dig deep to search out these variations of these textures. It is easy at first look to be like, “Okay, this can be a scene the place I am offended, and this can be a scene the place I am joyful,” however [not as easy] to actually type of discover the complexities and the textures. That is additionally the episode the place Laura breaks up along with her boyfriend, after which they get again collectively. That entire development of them beginning off on a type of very superficial degree to having the speak, after which in the midst of the speak, they break aside.
To the actors, I used to be like, “Let’s break the viewers’s hearts. Let’s make them assume these two are by no means going to see one another once more, in order that then, on the finish, after they come again collectively, it is that rather more highly effective.” They usually simply nailed these scenes and people moments. There are simply so many instances in that episode, the place I’d simply, as a former actor, and as a director, and as an viewers member, be watching the actors and be so enthralled. And Niecy [Nash] had an analogous arc like that as nicely the place she begins off, and he or she’s so offended about the truth that Cutty desires to go go to the person who, mainly, was the rationale why he was in jail for all these years.
After which Cutty convincing her to return again after which, by the course of the episode, as she watches the villain lose her life as a result of she could not let go of a grudge—for Simone to have that realization of “Okay, I’ve received to let this go. I do not need to have my life destroyed due to a grudge.” So she had lovely scenes with Cutty and with James Lesure, after which on the very, very finish she goes again to Cutty, and he says to her, “Forgiveness is for the forgiver.” Frankie and Niecy received me proper within the coronary heart with these beats.
As a director, there are occasions when you may lose observe of the truth that you are working, and also you expertise it as an viewers member and I had a bunch of these on 117. Felix Solis had an incredible second. He and Michael McGlone did a scene the place I used to be simply transfixed. I used to be like, “I may watch you guys do that scene all night time lengthy.” It has been such a pleasure and such a pleasure to have the chance to do these episodes. After which hopefully, shifting ahead, to get to do extra, each in The Rookie world and outdoors of The Rookie world.
Has there been any information on a second season of Feds?
Robert Bella: Not but. However I feel the strike has type of put a pause on issues. I am unable to think about a world the place it would not come again. It is such an amazing present. I feel Alexi and Terence have discovered an incredible steadiness between every present having its personal voice and distinctive storytelling, and on the identical time, having the ability to have these crossover episodes the place we dovetail backwards and forwards. I hope that every thing will get resolved rapidly and that the announcement is made quickly, as a result of I am positive they’re all anxious to get again to work.
For those who may have one character from The Rookie and one character from Feds spend an episode collectively, who do you assume can be a great crossover mixture?
Robert Bella: That is a very good query. There’s the viewers member in me, however then there’s the director. I would wish to consider it as a result of the checklist is lengthy, and I additionally do not need to play favorites. I feel there’s super potential to do a number of variations on that. I am unable to wait to see what the writers give you. It is so bizarre for me, after 5 years of being one of many writers on the present—I used to be actually simply on the [picket] line with them on the strike. It was nice simply to reconnect and see all of them on one hand, though beneath these circumstances, it is tough. It was simply bizarre to be like, “Alright, I am not a part of this workforce anymore.” I imply, I am a part of the household, but it surely’ll shift. It already has shifted.
Why did you resolve to make the change? Was directing all the time the long-term objective for you?
Robert Bella: I all the time needed to direct. I began off as an actor, and again then I used to be doing theater. I used to be a part of a theater firm the place all of us did every thing. All of us wrote, all of us directed, all of us produced, all of us made the costumes, and offered concessions. In order that was my background. After which, at one level, once I realized my performing profession wasn’t going to go wherever, I directed and produced an indie characteristic that went to Sundance. And in order that was my dream path. Nevertheless it simply did not understand for no matter cause. I got here so very, very shut many, many instances to getting my second characteristic off the bottom, however it could all the time collapse for one cause or one other. It simply took longer than I ever thought it could.
Truthfully, I had type of given up on the thought of directing, till unexpectedly, Alexi known as. It is truly a comic story. It was season 4, and again then we had been nonetheless in COVID. Within the top of COVID, we had been attempting to attenuate the variety of writers and producers who would go on to set simply by way of publicity. In order that season, I used to be the onset producer, and I used to be going to be on set, I feel, for each episode. It meant I used to be within the writers room quite a bit much less as nicely. There was a 9:45 obligatory writers room assembly that was known as, however I used to be out on location scouting. I used to be like, “Properly, I will simply learn the notes.” There are all the time notes for conferences, so I used to be like, “I will simply catch up.”
So at 9:45, I am out with the crew on location, and my telephone rings, and it was Terence who was on The Rookie on the time. He was like, “Dude, the place are you? It is a obligatory writers assembly.” I used to be like, “Oh, I did not understand it was that essential. I believed I may simply learn the notes and catch up.” He is like, “I do not know what is going on on, however Alexi desires us all right here.” So I used to be like, “Yeah, completely. Let me slip away from the group.” I hung up, and I believed, “Oh, my God. Is somebody going to get fired?” I zoom into the assembly and all people’s there, and Alexi’s very poker face.
He goes, “We now have a call that we have to make shifting ahead, and Bella it has to do with you.” I used to be like, “Am I getting fired?!” After which he mentioned, “How would you wish to direct episode 415?” To which, I teared up, and I used to be like, “Oh my God! Sure, I’d like to!” However then, afterward, I considered it, and I used to be like, “Oh my God. They threw a shock social gathering and everybody confirmed up, apart from me!” [Laughs] It was a shock social gathering to present me my first episode as a director and everybody was there apart from me as a result of I used to be out on tech scout. And in order that was how I received my first episode of TV.
That is an incredible story!
Robert Bella: I’m so thrilled. I hope that I get to do it much more, actually on the earth of The Rookie and elsewhere. I simply noticed Taylor Tomlinson the opposite night time and I see individuals like that, and I am like, “I’d like to direct Taylor Tomlinson in one thing.” There are simply so many proficient individuals on the market and so many cool tales that I’d like to be part of. So fingers crossed.
About The Rookie
John Nolan, the oldest rookie within the LAPD, has used his life expertise, dedication, and humorousness to maintain up with rookies 20 years his junior. Nearing the tip of his coaching, Nolan now faces his largest problem as a police officer but when he should come to phrases with the alternatives he has made in pursuit of the reality.
Take a look at our earlier interview with Robert Bella as nicely.
All episodes of The Rookie are at present accessible to stream on Hulu.