(Spoiler alert: Do not read if you have not yet watched Thursday night’s episode of “Shades of Blue”)
Ray Liotta has played plenty of tough-guys on screen, from “Goodfellas” and “Cop Land.” So far NBC drama “Shades of Blue,” in which the actor portrays NYPD Lt. Matt Wozniak, has given viewers the
But Thursday night they saw different side of Liotta
Midway through Episode 3, during a heated exchange, Liotta’s corrupt cop Wozniak shares a kiss with internal affairs chief Donnie Pomp, played by Michael Esper. Later Donnie is seen showering, post-sex, as Liotta places a call to Harlee, one of the cops in his unit, played by Jennifer Lopez.
According to Adi Hasak, the show’s creator and executive producer, the decision to make Wozniak — who has a wife — bisexual arose as he was writing the pilot.
“I never envisioned him as a gay character,” Hasak told TheWrap. “But I was writing a scene between him and Donnie Pomp, the two heavies, and it was, to be honest, a really fucking boring scene between two macho guys explaining things to each other.”
As he struggled to work out the scene, the right direction revealed itself.
“The characters had no vulnerability, especially the character of Wozniak,” Hasak said. “So he just leaned forward, and I had the two men share a kiss. Once that happened, the character of Wozniak was really born.”
Originally, the kiss was written into the pilot. It was shifted to Episode 3 after NBC picked up the pilot script straight to series. Liotta was aware of the character’s bisexual identity before he signed on.
Over the course of unpacking the pilot into 13 episodes, the kiss was moved from Episode 1 to Episode 3.
Part of the logic behind that move was knowing that the kiss would run counter to viewers’ expectations of Liotta. The actor teased the reveal last week at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, when during a panel he let slip about the character, “If I kiss a guy, I kiss a guy.”
Hasak, who was also on the panel, wasn’t worried about spoilers.
“Ray can do no wrong by me,” he said, adding that the revelation is not a mere plot gimmick. “[Wozniak is] not defined by being a macho character who’s also gay. This is the beginning of unraveling several levels of the psyche of this character.”
Hasak — whose next series, “Eyewitness” for USA, will feature two gay teenage protagonists — said that he never received any pushback during the development process on Wozniak’s sexuality. He doesn’t view including a gay character on a television show as any longer being taboo. But it’s a move that has dramatic weight.
“It’s still an intriguing subject matter, but insomuch as it can offer conflict,” he said. “The analogy for me is giving a character a gun. That’s why I like giving my character guns. There’s going to be drama.”
And Hasak isn’t worried about how Liotta’s fans might react to seeing the actor’s tough-guy image subverted.
“I’m very excited about it,” he said. “I think it’s going to make for great drama.”