Rookie Blue Exclusive: Travis Milne on Exploring the Dark Side of Chris Diaz

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On this week's Rookie Blue, Chris Diaz's world gets turned upside down when son Christian goes missing on "What I Lost."

In anticipation of the dramatic episode, Travis Milne took time to chat with TV Fanatic and talk about his character's controversial beginnings and how Chris' future may take a dark turn.


From the preview (below), it looks like Chris will be back at 15 Division. Is it permanent?
Well, you'll have to wait and see but I'm glad to be back. I think people are still wondering if it's going to be permanent or not. I think people just kind of assume if I'm back, I'm back. It's definitely exciting to be back.

The wait was killer but I've go to say that episode 4.09 is the biggest and best and funnest episode... and it's an honor to be a part of it. With such a large ensemble based show, they can only kind of dedicate a certain chunk of time to each character. So being able to have that storyline was a very big thing coming from the writers and the creative team. And I feel very fortunate to be a part of that.

Without giving away too much, will what occurs in this episode change Chris' personality moving forward? Will we see a darker version of Chris?
That's why I was so excited. When I got the call from Tassie Camerson (creator, executive producer) about how they were going to alleviate my character for a couple of episodes, I was initially a little nervous about it. After we kind of had a little bit of a conversation, I was actually excited because I saw the potential for my character to be able to have this time to grow and come back and actually have a transformation.

When Chris was originally written, first off his name was Chris Ramirez and he was suppose to be like a taller, meaner, younger Sam Swarek. He had an aggression problem. He was a hot head. He would be beating up people and getting into trouble for his temper. Basically we were talking and said, let's find a cop like that in real life that hasn't been pulled aside by HR or hasn't been fired for his behavior and I'll play that character. But until you can find me that one guy that's kind of getting away with some of that stuff in a very large, city police department, what I'd rather do with Chris is play him as that one guy who lets you off on that speeding. He lets you off with a warning and you go, Man that guy was really nice. And then all of a sudden it's like maybe cops aren't so bad.

That's where I wanted to start with Chris but I inevitably wanted to make that transition into what they had composed for my character. And so that's the transition that we're now making and it's so exciting because Chris is starting in one dimension and he's transferring into an entirely new realm. Yeah, he is going to be darker and he's going to be more pessimistic and a little bit more aggressive. There's going to be more dynamics there and more of a struggle to maintain his composure. I'm excited to play those things and be a part of all of that because I don't think you see that very often on TV. It's usually the same old thing for that guy but it's almost like Chris has started as like comedic relief, perpetual optimist and now he's transferring to more of a good guy with a problem.

It appears from the promo that some people Chris counts on to watch Christian let him down in a big way. Will the kidnaping change his relationship with his fellow rookies?
I think Chris' initial reaction is always very honest. From laughing to kind of holding himself back from murdering someone. It's always authentic and it's always very genuine to the moment. I don't think he's going to hold a grudge too long about that. I think what is in store for Chris in this episode is going to be the real struggle. The real struggle comes from the family dynamics of his actual relationship with Denise and with Christian and the implications that lay under the kidnapping. Why it happened? Who is the guy who kidnaps Christian? We don't know but when we find out it's going to be a very, very intense episode.

Diaz on the Case

Are Chris and Denise over or do they come out of this solid as a couple? Is there any chance Chris will have a new love interest this season?
I don't know if they've ever necessarily been solid. In fact I don't think anyone's every really solid on a show. Except for like Chloe and Dov are kind of becoming that couple. They're always just kind of happy and just kind of goofy. But I don't think they (Chris and Denise) have ever been 100%. I think there's always been that underlying kind of need for Chris to fulfill. That need is him never wanting to repeat the vicious cycle that he inevitably grew up with. So that's kind of like the complications that come with being in an unhealthy relationship. I think when he makes the conscious decision to be a part of Denise's life and Christian's life, those are the kinds of things you can never walk away from. But that doesn't mean that it's going to be sunshine and buttercups every single day. What it does mean is that, you don't walk away from that. 

Have you had a favorite episode of Rookie Blue?
I would say, it's a toss up between the one we're going to see "What I Lost" and episode 3.12 (12th episode of Rookie Blue season 3 titled "Every Man"). And the only reason I say 3.12 is that it was the crux. It was the beginning of all of this. In season 3, I kind of had a discussion with Tassie and I went like, you know I'm starting to turn into Ashton Kutcher with a badge. I love Ashton Kutcher. I think he's brilliant but …it was like I was turning into a Kelso with a badge and I can't be that. Give me more. I can't just be the funny guy, showing up and cracking a few jokes and everything's all good all the time because it's not. I need more. I want to explore the dark corners of this character. I was almost begging. And Tassie said, OK. We're going to go there. We're going to give you something and we're going to see how it turns out. That was 3.12. And 3.12 turned out better than most of the episodes that year and the network was like we actually really like was Travis did with Chris in that episode. Let's give him more of it. That's kind of what brought on all of the transitions in season 4 with him leaving and Christian getting kidnapped. It's all kind of a ripple effect of the conversation that Cassie and I had literally a year and a half ago.

And to be a part of a team that's going to allow you to grow like that. That is the reason why I think the show is so good because the creators are not afraid to be collaborative with the actors. You don't find that very often on a show.

We hear you write when you're not working on Rookie Blue. Do you have any projects on the works?
I do. I have one in particular that I'm very excited about. The working title is called South of Red Valley. It's kind of like a Sons of Anarchy meets Justified. Yeah, it's really, really, really, really, rad. It's based loosely on a true story. So I'm kind of really excited about that one. That one right now is still kind of percolating. Then there's another thing I've been working on called Devil's Ridge. It's basically First Blood, in the vein of that and in the environment of Winters Bone. It's like pretty bad ass.

The reason I started acting and got into this stuff, I grew up in a really small town. It was wonderful, great, and I loved it but essentially this was escapism for me. I remember I was really young, probably like 11. I was watching this movie and by then I'd probably watched thousands of movies. My mom came into the TV room and she's like you're watching this movie differently. I said, what do you mean. She said, you don't watch movies like normal people watch movies. You're studying them. She was right. That's kind of where it all started.

If you could chose to star on one current TV show, other than Rookie Blue, which show would it be?
Rectify. It would be season 2 of Rectify. Undoubtedly.

C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.

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