As Luther Graves on Fox's freshman legal drama (Wednesdays at 9 pm/ET), Justice, Eamonn Walker plays a top-tier trial lawyer in Alias spydaddy Victor Garber's firm who in this week's episode commands first chair overseeing one doozy of a case when an unexpected twist sidelines Kerr Smith's Tom. The London-born actor rang TVGuide.com to preview his showcase outing, and to reflect on the important lessons learned during his stint as Oz's Kareem Said.
TVGuide.com: I have to say, I wasnt entirely prepared for your accent.
Walker: Oh, right, yeah. Most people dont know, I guess!
TVGuide.com: Was there ever any talk of using it on Justice?
Walker: None, no. I'm definitely [Hiding accent] "a lawyer from L.A." [Laughs] There's a voice coach here every day to catch any discrepancies.
TVGuide.com: What is most important in playing a high-priced attorney adopting that swagger, attitude, cocksureness...?
Walker: [Laughs] Lawyers [as in the firm depicted on Justice] are very cocksure. They are the top end of those kinds of law firms that you can hire, so they're very expensive, but you can pretty much guarantee yourself getting off. Thats where the swagger comes from.
TVGuide.com: I really enjoy the show, especially how it shows the lawyers analyzing every little thing when prepping the case.
Walker: I'm glad, because that's what attracted me as far as the script is concerned. Most law shows are about the right or wrong of the law. This is about the minutiae, DNA testing and new technologies, using the media, knowing how juries judge things long before they sit in the jury box.... Thats what's fascinating about it.
TVGuide.com: I appreciate how especially in this TV season, where every new drama series is some serialized thriller involving the supernatural or an Evil Government Conspiracy Justice actually has standalone episodes.
Walker: And it's about people. It's about light and dark, innocent and guilty, good and evil. Sometimes the innocent go down, and sometimes the guilty get away.
TVGuide.com: Much has been made of how each episode's coda shows us what really happened, but there have yet to be any real surprises. Will there ever be an instance where we see that the client totally snowed you?
Walker: [Laughs] We're trying to keep this program as real as possible, and yes, sometimes people get in there and they lie. As a lawyer, you have to interrogate your client, almost like the police, to see that you're getting the full story. The other part of the show is you have to make up a story that supports your best defense for getting this person off. Whether they're guilty or innocent is not the point. The best story wins, as we said in Episode 1. What's great about the ending is you get to see what the lawyer never gets to see, [which is] what actually happened, including the little bit that the client maybe doesnt want to give [away], incriminating or not.
TVGuide.com: Jerry Bruckheimer obviously has had a lot of TV success. What's it like to star in a project of his? Do you feel the quality, that you're in good hands?
Walker: It's nice to have the ring of his name around, there's no denying that. But when you're in there working and being creative as in when my episode came up and they said, "OK, you're going to be first chair" that's you being in your creative moment, and at that point the ring of the name, the press, the outside stuff... it doesnt figure. You're just trying to do the best you can do and make it work from the script that's there. When Jerry watches [the completed episode], thats when his seal of approval comes into play. [Laughs] But he's been fantastic. A good guy.
TVGuide.com: Let's talk about this week's episode, in which "Luther is assigned a controversial case involving a man accused of murdering someone over a drug-related issue." What's controversial?
Walker: What makes the case controversial is Luther's particular point of view. So far [on Justice] what youve seen is how we go about our work and what it is we do, but now we really start getting into the people. The human side of the characters started to come out, and Luther has a definite opinion about drugs that starts to manifest itself in his work, how he goes about [trying this case]. I'm loving the fact that they made me first chair.
TVGuide.com: Has Eamonn Walker ever had any scrapes with the law?
Walker: Eamonn Walker had a load of scrapes with the law when he was a young man. I was always in trouble. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Been chased by bobbies, have you?
Walker: Yes, I've been chased by the bobbies.
TVGuide.com: Last question: Did playing a devout Muslim for all those years on HBO's Oz afford you any special insights into the current world climate?
Walker: Oh, for starters, Oz changed my life. That was my first introduction to America and vice versa. I tend to put a lot of research into my work, whether it be Oz or [the 2005 feature] Lord of War. I read a lot and get as close as I possibly can to the real McCoy. So with Oz, I spent a lot of time in the mosque at 116th Street, where a person called Brother Kareem would teach me about Islam, and taught me how to pray.... I did that every weekend, spent time with him to talk about stuff. [Oz creator] Tom Fontana wrote such amazing stuff for every single character.... You had to really dig down deep to portray the emotions and feelings that the pages demanded. So I understand more than the average person I tend not to just mouth off willy-nilly and I'm grateful for that.
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