OK, who among us wasn't stunned speechless upon hearing that Oscar nominee Glenn Close was joining FX's The Shield as the new captain? Well, series star Michael Chiklis, for starters. "At the [2003] Golden Globes I approached her and said, 'I'm gonna work with you someday,'" he recalls. "She looked at me a little incredulously and said, 'Oh, that's good to know.' I've wanted to work with her for a long time." Actually, when it comes to scoring the casting coup of the year, a little wishful thinking goes a long way, as Shield creator Shawn Ryan recently revealed to TV Guide Online's Michael Ausiello.
TV Guide Online: Which came first: the actress or the character?
Shawn Ryan:
The character came first. The writers and I started working on this season in July and we came up with [the idea to have] a new captain in the barn, and it needed to be someone who had some years on the force. Our show has pretty much stuck with the formula of casting people who aren't all that recognizable; we don't really do any stunt casting. But when we started thinking about who we would cast for this role... we needed someone who could really stand up to [Mackey and Co]. So we thought, "Who's the absolute best actress we could get if there were no obstacles?" and Glenn Close's name came up. We pursued it, and it seemed like the right thing for us and the right thing for her.

TVGO: Why not promote Claudette (CCH Pounder) instead of bringing in someone new? Lord knows she's earned that post.
The way our [third] season ended, it really didn't make sense to do that. We have a story line in mind for her character that is much more about dealing with the aftermath of not getting the job. I've talked with CC about this and the idea that the person who comes in is another woman almost makes it harder for her to sort of take being passed over. And we love how Claudette and Dutch interact together, so we weren't rushing to break those two up.

TVGO: Is CC cool with all this? I mean, she was the show's reigning diva up till now.
(Laughs) Well, this'll sound like a kiss-assy answer, but I don't think we really have any divas on this show. Our show is so down and dirty the way that we make it, it isn't really conducive to that kind of stuff. The actors on the show like to be challenged and they like to work opposite really good actors. And I don't think there's any doubting that Glenn Close is a top-notch actress. It's not like CC's gonna lose any screen time. In fact, a lot of the story arcs we have involve the two of them together. I think this is a benefit to CC and her character.

TVGO: Did Glenn make any crazy demands during negotiations?
No. I'm not familiar with [the specifics] of the negotiations, but I'm sure that she's happy with the deal. As far as I know, there was nothing outrageous or extreme. She was far more concerned about her character and what plans we had for her over the course of the season. She was not someone who talked about "star perks." She was all about the character.

TVGO: Is she playing a lesbian?
(Laughs) No, she's not a lesbian.

TVGO: Was that ever under consideration?

TVGO: She plays a fierce lesbian.
Believe me, if you've watched our show, you know that we don't shy away from having gay characters. But in this case it wasn't really what we were trying to do. She plays a woman who has found love a little later in life and has only been married three or four years.

TVGO: Will she butt heads with Mackey?
He is someone she thinks she can rehabilitate. She knows some, but not all, of the things he's done. I don't think she knows the worst things that he's done, but she knows his reputation and she's someone who believes that he has a lot of usefulness in him. So, at least to start off the season, the two are working more together than working against each other.

TVGO: Does she have a dark side?
I think every character on The Shield has a bit of a dark side. I think she's someone whom hopefully people will admire and like.

TVGO: Did you get a sense while talking to Glenn as to why she was interested in doing television now?
I don't know how to answer that without sounding self-satisfied, but I think the quality of the show had a lot to do with it. I can tell you for a fact her people were not seeking a television show for her to do. It was a very special case where it was this specific show, this specific character at this specific time. She's someone who, if you look at her r&#233sum&#233, has made a lot of smart choices about the kinds of roles she's picked. She's certainly not afraid of being on TV.

TVGO: Now for the big question: Who'll have the bigger trailer — Glenn Close or Michael Chiklis?
(Laughs) I don't know. I think they'll have the same trailer.

TVGO: They're sharing a trailer?
(Laughs) Now wouldn't that be a scoop! No, I believe that Glenn is going to have the same kind of trailer that Michael and CC have. Besides, we'll keep her too busy to go back there.

Season Four of The Shield debuts in March.