A version of this story on Bill Camp first appeared in the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
The lead acting nominees from Richard Price and Steven Zaillian’s dark and riveting HBO miniseries “The Night Of” are Riz Ahmed as Naz, a young Pakistani-American student accused of murder, and John Turturro, who took over a role originally intended for the late James Gandolfini, as his weary attorney, John Stone.
Both men give powerful performances, but two other cast members supply richly textured performances in supporting roles: Michael Kenneth Williams as a prison kingpin and Bill Camp as an NYPD detective who doggedly pursues Naz despite occasional doubts about his guilt.
Camp is a veteran of “Boardwalk Empire,” “Law & Order,” “The Good Wife” and “The Leftovers.” In “The Night Of,” the trick was to flesh out the complexities of Detective Box, a decent man who is nonetheless dogged in his pursuit of a college student the audience believes to be innocent in the brutal murder of a young woman.
“The most challenging thing for me was balancing the subtlety of the way he worked with his tenacious drive to get to the truth,” he said. “And not to go too far in one direction with either of those things, because his strength as a character is in the balance.”
Detective Box never seems villainous, but he’s an implacable foe for Naz, who can’t remember what happened on a night of sex and drugs. “The subtlety makes people lean into the character,” said Camp, a theater veteran who has been acting on television since 1990. “There’s an engagement with his softer side, the potentially more sympathetic side.
“And yet there’s the Beast, which is his diligence and his tenacity and his engine, if you will, to get to the truth. Everything else is secondary. And in order to get to that truth, there’s an aggressiveness and coldness and callousness to him. Those contradictions and conflicts in the character are what make him such an incredible gift to play.
“There is obviously a great reward in playing someone who is slowly, slowly figuring something out.”
See TheWrap’s video interview with Bill Camp above; and more from the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap Magazine.