“We didn’t want to ask the audience to like her because that’s just not fair to the audience," said Major Crimes star Mary McDonnell on her character's transition from villain to hero.
When we first met Sharon Raydor on The Closer, she was put in charge of investigating Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson’s team. Suspecting members of Johnson’s squad of using excessive force and going outside the law. Raydor was painted as a villain of the series.
Much of Raydor and Johnson's conflict with each other centered around their different ideas of justice. Johnson and her team would often use unconventional methods to solve cases, which goes against Raydor's ideals that would lead her to investigate them in the first place. As the show reached its final episodes, both detectives would come to an understanding with one another.
When it came time for Raydor to be the series lead on Major Crimes, the writers had a tough job ahead of them. Now in her new role, Raydor not only had to be on the team that she once accused of breaking the law, but she also had to lead them.
“It was really hard and it was very closely traveled. Really James and I had a great deal of partnership on the very careful transitioning of her out of being the antagonist into being the protagonist," said Mary McDonnell.
This transition was a key focus for the first season of the series. In the earlier episodes of Major Crimes, Raydor's insistence on sticking to the rules when it came to justice created numerous conflicts with her new team. Series creator James Duff determined that keeping Raydor’s character the same, especially her moral code, was the key to making the successful transition from villain to hero.
“We didn’t want to change the character because the character was well-established and was an important character and had played an important role,” said series creator James Duff.
A moment that brought attention to Raydor’s move into Brenda’s role was her first interaction with Rusty. In the pilot episode of the series, Rusty yells at Raydor while in a panic trying to find Brenda exclaiming that he doesn’t know or like her. Replying to his outburst, Raydor speaks to both Rusty and the audience at the same time by saying “well, she’s not here right now and I’m who you get.”
Mary McDonnell worked in this transitional period easier than many would have suspected. Within just the first few episodes of the series, Sharon Raydor made clear to both her team and the fans that she was here to stay.
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