“I would love to use a morning star,” says Katrina Law about what weapon she would love to wield.
“I would love to use it without chopping off my own head or swinging the chain into my face. But I figure with some training, I’d be able to use it.”
It’s an obvious answer for an actress whose most notable roles include a slave-turned-fighter in Spartacus: War of the Damned and a trained assassin in Arrow. Law has a history of playing physically formidable characters, and her latest role as Detective Rebecca Lee in the series Training Day is no exception.
Training Day is set in Los Angeles, 15 years after the events of the Denzel Washington film of the same name. The film’s themes of corruption and moral ambiguity carry over into the series.
Rebecca Lee is part of the Special Investigation Section (SIS), an elite division of the Los Angeles Police Department that operates under its own set of rules. Led by Detective Frank Rourke (Bill Paxton), the SIS finds Officer Craig Kyle (Justin Cornwell) forced into its ranks. Kyle secretly investigates SIS’s methods, while trying to solve the mystery of his father’s murder.
As Lee, Law supports Rourke’s methods and comfortably navigates the grey moral waters of law enforcement.
“[Lee] was taken under Rourke’s wing into the SIS division. It takes a very specific type of person to be in it. You have to be tough-as-nails with a background that makes you capable and ready for anything and everything. If SIS gets called to the scene, you’re dealing with the worst of the worst.”
“Lee is extremely loyal to Frank,” explains Law. “When she was nine years old, he rescued her from human traffickers, and ever since then, she’s looked up to him and idolized him. He’s her hero and also basically a father figure and one of the few staples in her life.
As Frank Rourke, Bill Paxton plays a brash, relentless, and possibly corrupt detective with questionable methods and an agenda all his own. Fortunately, the actor is nothing his character.
“I love working with him,” says Law. “Any good thought you’ve had about him is true. Every morning, he walks in and says ‘good morning, breakfast lovers!’ and that’s how our day starts. He had so much work to do this season in terms of memorization and by being she show’s lead, but he handled it gracefully and was always professional. He’s always there for the team and the crew loves him. I couldn’t have asked for a better team leader.”
Detective Lee’s introduction in the pilot follows a shoot-out that ends in police casualty. She greets her new teammate, Kyle, by saying, ”We’re probably going to kill some people today, Kyle. Shooting starts, stay clear of my muzzle and we’ll get along just fine.” Law adds: “When Lee shows up with guns blazing, she’s ready to take care of business. She’s a badass chick.”
Law also enjoys playing a character in a world that isn’t black and white. “I bode well towards playing in the gray area because I’m a Libra and really indecisive. A lot of times I look at a certain situation and I know what’s right for me, but I’m not secure enough to say ‘but that should be right for you.’
"I think Nyssa [from Arrow] and Rebecca Lee are both very firm in their beliefs about what’s right and wrong, and have no problem implementing their beliefs on others. If you’re on Rebecca’s bad person list, then you’re going down and she has no qualms about that.”
Due to her previous roles and her part in Training Day, Law can now consider herself an action heroine.
“I love these roles; I love action roles. I love when women get to stand beside men and kick ass. There are a lot of roles in television where women stand behind the men and support them - which is a beautiful role and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I believe there is another role coming about where women get to fight for freedom and justice just as often as men.
"And they don’t only just have to fight for love. I think I’m really lucky by playing Rebecca because she’s fighting for justice, for freedom, for the goodness of mankind, and also fighting for the loves of her life. So I think this is a really well rounded role for me to play. I think the same applies to Mira from Spartacus and Nyssa from Arrow.
"I’ve been really fortunate that the writers and producers have created such well-rounded female characters that are fighting for something bigger.”
Law is able to see firsthand the impact of her work on the convention circuit, where she’s allowed the opportunity to interact directly with her fans.
“It’s very rewarding for me. It’s just great fun to be able to say, ‘You’re a wonderful fan thank you for supporting us, and I hope you enjoy the show.’ It’s not very often that you get to have that kind of one-on-one interaction, so I love that there’s a community set up for that to happen.
"And the cosplay [fans coming to conventions costumed as their favorite characters] is just brilliant. I absolutely love when people come to the conventions in cosplay. I normally have a dance party where I force everybody to dance with me and then blast [the videos] online so we all get to humiliate ourselves together. I think it’s lovely fun and it’s a great way to say ‘thank you’.”
When not meting out justice in the streets of Los Angeles or greeting fans, Law can be found contributing her time to a pair of charities. Kitt Crusaders, a non-profit Los Angeles organization, rescues cats and kittens from kill shelters, as well as gets them medical attention and homes.
“I initially got involved with them about eight years ago because I had two alley cats that came along with the house where I lived. At the time, I didn’t have the money to take them in. [Kitt Crusaders] said not to worry, they could take care of them.”
Law wanted to repay the organization, so she gathered some of her Spartacus: War of the Damned castmates to take a series of photographs with the shelter’s cats to autograph and sell. They donated the proceeds to Kitt Crusaders.
“And that’s what we’ve been doing ever since,” says Law. “I’ve gotten some Arrow castmates [to participate]. I’ve gotten some Flash cast members to do it. I just recently got some Training Day people involved. Stan Lee was a part of it at one point. So it’s been a fun little journey of who can we get to take photos with kittens.”
Law’s other charity work is for BuildOn.Org, an organization that helps local communities in the United States and assists in building schools across the world.
“I will be helping them build two schools -- one in Nepal and one in Africa. It’s a beautiful organization that basically unites the world. At certain conventions, I’m going to be doing some charity Sundays where I’ll sell t-shirts, autographs, pictures, and all these different things. All the proceeds go directly towards raising money to build new schools and flying Buildon.Org kids out to help build them.”
Looking toward the future, Law had this to say: “I would love to get into features. I would also love to have the juicy roles in television where you develop a character over time. Right now, I’m looking for a little indie drama that I can really sink my teeth into acting-wise and get to play and delve deep into a character that’s maybe a little dark and twisted.”
Training Day airs on Thursdays at 10/9 C on CBS.