'S.W.A.T.': Shemar Moore on Season 6 Expectations and Love of Crime Roles (Exclusive)

Shemar Moore burst onto the scene nearly 30 years ago and has been an in-demand actor and bonafide sex symbol ever since. From his start on the daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless to starring as the leading man alongside the likes of Toni Braxton in her "How Many Ways" music video, fans can't get enough of Moore. He played on Criminal Minds for 11 years as Derek Morgan. And since 2017, he's starred as the head honcho Daniel "Hondo" Harrelson on S.W.A.T. Season 6 kicks off in Thailand, where Hondo and his former military buddy Joe (guest star Sean Maguire) stumble upon a wide-ranging heroin operation with ties to Los Angeles and find themselves on the run from a powerful drug kingpin. There's a jam-packed season full of action viewers of the show has grown to love to look forward to.

Ahead of the show's premiere, PopCulture.com spoke with Moore about the show and why he finds himself attracted to crime dramas. He also dished on longevity, and how he stays looking as good as he does. 

PC: So, first and foremost, congratulations on the success of the show. We're back for season six. 

SM: Yeah. 

PC: What about the show do you think has contributed to its success, for it to be on this long? 

SM: S.W.A.T. has been just the little train that could. We're just a fun, action-packed show that everybody can enjoy. It's not dark, like Criminal Minds, my last show, when I was running around flirting with Babygirl and chasing serial killers. This show is a family fun show, where me and the gang get to play super cops, and I'm Hondo, the big badass Hondo, chasing down bad guys.

We love that we're a thrill ride, an action show. You get to see cops do super cool things that really go [on] in real life – from helicopter chases, and repelling off of buildings, and motorcycle chases and car chases, hand to hand combat, chasing down the bad guys, and the explosions, edge of your seat fun stuff. But we also stay grounded in current topics.

We''ve done episodes through the years from school shooting topics, suicide by cop, human trafficking. We did a whole Black Lives Matter type of episode. So we hit current topics without being preachy. We don't talk about religion, we don't talk about politics. When you're watching S.W.A.T., you just have a good time with a fun, cool message, and kind of a sense of humanity. 

PC: Now, the season premiere was filmed on location in Thailand. How was that experience? And how do you feel shooting on different locations really adds to the quality and makes it more of a reality type of situation to the storylines as well as the character development? 

SM: I pinch myself that as an actor, with my career, I'm getting to live out my dream telling stories and playing characters. But to be on a show that is legitimately not just watched around the world, but we actually get to perform in different parts of the world.

This is our sixth season that we're starting. We've been to Mexico twice, we went to Tokyo, Japan, we just came back from Thailand, so we get to say that we're worldwide. To run around the streets of these countries and to get the reception that we get from the people just enjoying our show, and loving having us there, shooting our show in their home country –  I'm like, "Wow, I get to be an actor, and I get to be super cop, um, literally in another country."

We get to showcase, not just LA, we showcase everybody who hasn't been to Los Angeles is fascinated by Los Angeles, and then everybody here is fascinated by what the rest of the world looks like. And you get a little peek through the peephole of Tokyo, Japan. And our production value, the producers, and the studio, and the network – it's very important that we have so much fun showcasing the beautiful areas of these different countries. The Mexico episode last season was so beautiful it almost looked fake. The scenery was incredible. But just to be there, to meet the people, to see the culture firsthand, and then to be able to portray that on camera – you don't see a lot of television shows do that. So I think that helps the intrigue of our show, because we're thinking outside the box in the way that we tell stories. 

PC: Now that you mention it, this isn't your first crime-based or investigative role. You also starred in Criminal Minds. What keeps you coming back to these types of roles? 

SM: The paycheck, the big house, the fancy cars (laughs). There is some truth to that. I'm joking, but, I love to perform. It's been a niche that's worked for me. I'm very proud of my 29 years in the game. I feel like I'm growing every day and every year with each character that I play. And from starting out on The Young and the Restless, as Malcolm Winters, that was a great starting block for me, to just kind of get my legs as an actor. And the fanfare was so great, and it was my first taste of being a professional actor. I've learned so much as an actor. I grew so much as a person. I made incredible relationships.

Kristoff St John, may he rest in peace, was truly a brother to me, and really believed in my career. And he just told me to believe in myself, and think outside the box, and spread my wings, and take chances and see how high I could fly as an actor. My mother, who is smiling at me from heaven as well, always said "Just believe in yourself, anything's possible, don't get yourself stuck in a box, and take what's out there and run with it, and go big."

And so to do Young and the Restless, and then Criminal Minds, playing Derek Morgan for 11 years, and now to be the lead in my own show playing big badass Daniel "Hondo" Harrelson, and being a super cop. I love that I've been able to play heroes – fighting for the underdog. Because everybody wants to be a superhero to some extent. And so I think fans live vicariously through my journey as an actor, and my hero boys on television.

PC: And before I let you go, fans are always wondering how you continue to age like fine wine, you know what they say in our culture…

SM: Good Black don't crack. I get it. I appreciate that. I'm 52 years old. I'm never shy about how old I am, how young I am. I got good genes from my mom and my daddy. I eat healthy and exercise is a way of life for me. I'm trying to keep my six-pack alive. Right now, it's kind of like a two-and-a-half pack. I gotta get together. It ain't as easy as it used to be. I just try to see the brighter side of life.  Life- life has ups and downs, you know?

I've experienced a lot of successes, a lot of triumphs, but also dealt with a lot of adversity, a lot of loss. You just wake up every day and realize you're blessed. I never take life for granted. I never take my career for granted. I just try to embellish, and smile about the good, but also always push myself. Don't ever get comfortable. You can do it. I always feel like I can be better.

You stay ready so you don't have to get ready. That's how I live my life, and that's how I approach my career. So, health, taking care of myself, exercise, digging deep in my characters, and challenging myself to do a little more than I did the last time. 

S.W.A.T. Season 6 premieres Friday, Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. You can watch our full video interview with Shemar Moore at the top of this article.

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