Kyra Sedgwick knew all the reasons she shouldn't take the starring role of Deputy Police Chief Brenda Johnson on TNT's edgy new procedural series The Closer (Mondays, 9 pm/ET).

It would stall her blue-chip independent-film career. It would be shot in Los Angeles, a city she hates. It would keep her 3000 miles away from her New York City apartment, her husband of 16 years, Kevin Bacon, and their two children, Travis, 16, and Sosie, 13.

"I thought, 'I can't do it,'" says Sedgwick, who was ultimately swayed by her mate's indefensible logic. "Kevin said, 'I won't work for four months. So why can't you?'"

Since then, Sedgwick, 39, has come to love everything about the shrewd, often obstinate Brenda, from her perennial dieter's ability to glance at a glazed doughnut and instantly gauge the calories to her outmoded fashion sense. "She's a really bad dresser — right out of the '70s Talbots," says Sedgwick, sitting on a director's chair in an ersatz police captain's office on the Hollywood set of The Closer. "Brenda's totally not hip, and I want her to stay that way."

Filled with unexpected plot twists and sharp dialogue, The Closer follows a gifted female police detective imported from Atlanta to lead a special unit of the LAPD responsible for unraveling high-profile murders. Typically the lone female in the squad room, Brenda has to endure endless resistance from burly cop subordinates who resent out-of-state interlopers, not to mention one who has flowing blond hair and is 6 inches shorter than they are. What The Closer creator James Duff built into the character was how she uses everything in her feminine arsenal — right down to her honeyed Georgia cadences &#151 to trip up suspects in the interrogation room.

"I wanted to do a show where the smartest person in the room was the one with the Southern accent," says Duff, a transplanted Texan. "Butter wouldn't melt in her mouth. Until it does."

The Closer — whose record-breaking premiere scored roughly 7 million viewers last week — hasn't seemed to soften native New Yorker Sedgwick's view of Los Angeles. But because she appears in almost every scene and has pages of dialogue to memorize, she's figured out an upside to West Coast living. "Being here helps me focus on my work — I can be completely and utterly self-involved," Sedgwick says. "The minute I'm home, I want to be mom and wife."