Criminal Minds fans got to see Shemar Moore say “baby girl” one more time when Derek Morgan returned to comfort Penelope Garcia in last week’s episode. But will they get to hear him utter it as team leader Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson on his new CBS drama, S.W.A.T., premiering Thursday?
Spoiler alert: The answer is yes. “I say it to a lady friend of mine from where I grew up — not a love interest, but just a lady friend of mine who has a beautiful little baby,” Moore told us during a recent Build Series NYC interview. “And you’ll hear me say, ‘Your baby girl’s gettin’ big.’ And that’s not what was written, but I said that — because I’m a producer, I can kind of tweak stuff — and I did that on purpose to kind of pay homage to Criminal Minds, and to see if any of my baby girl fans, or fans, pick up on [it].”
He said to keep an ear out for the phrase in the series’ second episode — when (gulp) it’s used by a violent escaped convict. That wasn’t in the script either. “We showed up to the table-read, and the actor [Lobo Sebastian] just started saying it, but it worked. But it’s interesting to hear ‘baby girl’ from a bad guy, in a creepy way. And the producers and cast were like, ‘He just stole your word, he just stole your phrase.’ And I’m like, ‘I’m scared of him too. Let him say it. Let him say it,'” Moore said, laughing. “He was a great bad guy. I mean, he’s actually a really nice man, but he knows how to play a really bad guy.”
Moore revealed that S.W.A.T. lets him show something Criminal Minds never did — his tattoos, among them the phrase carpe diem, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Barack Obama. “It’s not about politics, it’s just that they stood for something,” he said. “These were black men that stood for something, and they didn’t just stand for black people, they stood for all people, and they moved the needle. They promoted change. I’m not sayin’ that I’m like those guys, but I’m inspired by those guys.” (Watch the video above for the meaning behind the rest of his ink.)
As we’ve previously reported, Moore signed on to S.W.A.T. because it aims to provide viewers with more than an adrenaline rush. The series kicks off with the white leader of Hondo’s S.W.A.T. team accidentally shooting a black teenager during a foot chase, and Hondo getting promoted in an effort to ease the racial tension between the cops and the community.
“On this show, we don’t care who you voted for, we’re just talking about what’s happening now. … There are bad and there are good police offers, and there are bad and there are good us — and that’s just what it is. Are we gonna fix all that? No,” Moore said. “But can we bridge the gap of understanding and patience, and can maybe we broaden our thinking, broaden our minds, so that there is a little more unity, a little more harmony? That’s the hope. That’s the wish. All while having a bunch of fun.”
S.W.A.T. premieres Nov. 2 at 10 p.m. on CBS.