S.W.A.T. is "A Thrill Ride with Heart," says Star David Lim

By Carissa Pavlica at

David Lim has a very special story to share about joining S.W.A.T., the new CBS reboot of a show from the 1970s and a movie from 2003 starring Lim, Shemar Moore, Stephanie Sigman, Kenny Johnson, Jay Harrington, Alex Russell, and Lina Esco.

Lim talked to us about his amazing trip from auditioning to becoming a series regular as Victor Tan, what it's like on set under the de facto team leader Moore, and what to expect as the series progresses.

Tell me about premiere night. You're one of the last shows to premiere, and you had a very long wait. What was it like for the show to finally air?

David Lim: It was awesome. We were all so excited. You know, we filmed the pilot seven months ago, so it feels like years ago now. And so we were just so excited to finally share it with everyone, watch with friends.

We did an East Coast showing with the cast and producers and writers, and we did some live tweeting, so that was fun to kind of interact with the people watching the show.

And then we did a West Coast kind of viewing party, a couple of the cast members and myself and our friends all came out and they shut down this pizza restaurant and that was really cool because finally we got to watch with our friends and see all the reactions and it was a packed house, so it was going crazy in there.

So now we can breathe a big sigh of relief now that the premier is done with, so we were all just really excited.

What was the most surprising reaction that you heard that night?

Well obviously people were going crazy for the action sequences, a lot of oohs and aahs and clapping, but what surprised me most, Jay Harrington, he actually has this video clip on his phone of people's reactions.

There's a scene in the pilot where Hondo played by Shemar Moore goes and visits the actor who plays Raymont who was shot at the beginning of the pilot. And he goes and visits him in the hospital and he says a few nice things to him.

And during that moment, Jay Harrington was filming the audience and you see about 50 people just frozen and no one saying anything and everyone's just so lost in this scene and it's kind of a heartfelt moment. And to me, that was the most surprising and cool thing about last night and the reaction.

That's great. And you guys are so, you know, I Tweeted along with you guys and watched what was going on, so especially because-

Cool, thank you.

You know, in preparation for this, you know as well. And it was one of my favorite pilots because I get to watch most of the pilots because of my job-

Cool. That's awesome to hear.

Yeah, and you know, I'm an old fart and so I watched the original series when I was a little girl, and it was like one of my favorite shows and I had like the 45 record and stuff. And so I was-

Oh, that's amazing. Are you happy that it's backed? Are you thrilled? 

Well, I have to tell you, I hate reboots because for the most part, they get them wrong. And this time, they got it right. So I am thrilled with how well they've done.

Yeah, I think we did. That's why we're so excited is because it's a fresh take. It's not the show from the '70s, although we did take the theme song, which I think is awesome and-

And it's not the movie.

... it's not the same from 2003. Although we do share some of the same character names, but it's just this kind of fresh take on S.W.A.T. in 2017 and the issues that are relevant to what's happening in the world today. And we're so excited to kind of each week explore a different story and continue to delve into these characters.

And it's an action drama and there's a nice rich dose of humor tossed in. And as you mentioned, there's going to be ... I liked how the issues of today were very prominent in the pilot. And how is that going to play out as the series progresses? Are you going to continue to delve into today?

What's that, say again?

Are you gonna continue to delve into the issues that are very prominent in today's society?

Yeah, absolutely. I think we want to be a show that matters, and we want to approach some of these complex issues, topical issues, and kind of intermix that with kickass action sequences.

So you know, we always say like a thrill ride with heart, and we also want to continue to get into these characters live, so you really see into the life of someone who is a S.W.A.T. officer and what that kind of home life is as well.

We're gonna continue to approach these issues. We have an episode where we're dealing with human trafficking and cyberbullying and racism within law enforcement, we're gonna address that. And so I think that's very cool to talk about things that are relevant.

And I have to ask, if you don't want to tell me what character you originally auditioned for, that's fine. But what did you do in that audition that so impressed people that they wanted to bring you back for more and write a character for you?

I have no clue. No, you know, I originally read for Jim Street played by Alex Russell who I think does a fantastic job and he is Jim Street, he is perfect and what he brings to that character is great. He's so likable and a great guy outside of Jim Street. He and I have become good buddies.

So I originally read for that character, I came back in I think like the very next day and I read for the Mumford character who is played by now Peter Onorati and he's fantastic. And I knew when I was auditioning for that part, I was like, yeah, well, I'm not this guy, I'm not, he was written in his like late 40's.

But of course, I wanted to be a part of the project so badly because it was such an awesome script. The people attached to it, Shawn Ryan, Justin Lin, Aaron Thomas, Shemar Moore, I was like, this is awesome. You know, I'll audition for this role even though I don't fit it at all and who knows what will happen, you know?

And I always thought in the back of my head, "If they created another role on the S.W.A.T. team," I was like, "Oh, I'd be perfect for that." And so I just went in like I try to do with all my auditions with an open mind even if I don't think I'm the best fit, and I just try to be believable as a character and just try to bring what I can to the part.

And you know, I guess they saw something in that audition. But I will say, an hour after I went in for the callback, my manager called me and he said, "Hey, it's not gonna happen on S.W.A.T." And of course I was bummed but at the same time, I was totally understood. I was like, "Yeah, of course. I'm not this guy."

And so I had moved on and I was auditioning for other projects. And then it wasn't until a week or so later that my agents called me up and they said, "Hey, you booked the part or they're offering you this role in Victor Tan."

And that's when I was like, "Wait, wait a second. That was not in the pilot. I read this script like three times. There was no Victor Tan." And that's when I found out that they had created this role.

What an honor.

Yeah. It was a great feeling. And I was like, "Wow, that's amazing." And a week later, I'm doing tactical training and a couple days after that I'm on set working with Justin Lin and that was just ... It's been a crazy, fun ride so far and I don't know if it will ever sink in.

So what's Victor Tan all about, and how soon or how far into the season until we get to see him step forward and get to know about him?

You're gonna really get to know about him about eight or nine episodes in. You know, so they created this role, it was kind of blue sky for this character because they didn't have an exact description for him just yet. I think they kind of wanted to see what I brought to the character and also, I wasn't signed on as a series regular to begin with.

It wasn't until a few episodes in and they promoted me to a series regular. And once that happened, then they started to really write for my character and get into his backstory. So you know, towards the early middle part of the season, assuming we do a full 22 episode season, knock on wood, you'll really kind of see his backstory.

And I'm very excited for that. I think it's some interested stuff kind of revolving around former CI's who could also be love interests, but you know, I'm getting to play an Asian American action hero, which I think is much need on television. I think we need more of them and you know, getting to do a character who has a full life, a full backstory, and that's any actors dream.

What's the atmosphere like on set?

It's fun. We have a lot of fun. And we work incredibly hard, and it starts with Shemar Moore, he brought us all together, and he set the tone. He works his tail off. I don't know when he sleeps. And we kind of just follow his lead. And it's worked.

It was kind of an effortless coming together of the cast of just bonding. You know, sometimes you have personalities that might not match up the greatest, but it was kind of this effortless thing and we all came together and got along great, and we're all having the time of our lives.

And you know, Shemar's throwing footballs at lunch to the crew and you know, if you catch it you're winning money. And so he keeps it really ... We work hard, but we have fun. And we're all enjoying what we're doing.

You know, he's like every woman's dream, isn't he? Hondo?

Shemar? Yes.

Yes.

He's...the ladies, oh my gosh. The ladies love him. And he's so great with his fans and people who support him. He always takes his time to talk to them, take pictures with them, and interact with them and I think that's so cool.

And Jay Harrington and Kenny Johnson are really great on Twitter too and I watch your profile last night. You gained about 300 Twitter followers.

Did I? Oh my gosh that's-

Yeah, you did. So what are you gonna do whenever your Twitter followers rise exponentially, which they're going to do. Are you ready for that?

Oh my gosh, I'll probably be scared to say anything. Because there are so many people who are going to see it.

I think you need to take lessons from your costars. They're really good.

Yeah, I might have to. These guys are all witty and they're funny and they're goofy, and so definitely, I'll try not to take it too seriously.

You gotta up your game.

Yeah. Yeah. Thank you.

And get Alex, who's playing Street...

Yeah. Yeah. Alex Russell.

Yeah, he doesn't have many Twitter followers either, but I think the two of you are in for a little bit of a surprise.

Oh yeah? Well hopefully.

Yeah, I think you guys need to get with the serious veterans there and prepare.

Yeah. Yeah. We're gonna have to sit down with Shemar and Jay and Kenny and they're gonna have to like give us a lesson and we'll take notes.

Because despite the late start and the time slot, I with Shemar Moore, I think you guys are gonna have a big hit on your hands. The story is great, the action is fantastic. I think you're good to go.

Yeah, we're all so excited to share this because we know we're making and we feel like we're making a great show and we feel like we have something special and we feel like there's a need for this show on network television. And I think it's just a good time. It's fun.

I was watching my friends and the friends of some of the other actors last night and everyone was just having a great time. And they were so entertained and they were laughing and there were parts where they were dead silent and they were hooting and hollering at some of these action sequences. And I just think it's a fun, good time.

The only negative comment that I saw was that they didn't use the original theme song. And then that came on at the end, so I thought that if people stuck around, then they should be appeased.

Yeah, you know, okay, going forward, I think, I'm not 100% sure, but I think the theme song will now be at the beginning of the episodes. I think for the pilot they had it purposefully come on at the very end, and it's still, it's close, it's close. But like, you know, you watch the series so you can tell it's a little different. But they definitely did like a little update on-

Oh, it's close enough. There's something about that song that just gets you excited for the action.

Right?

Yeah.

Whenever it comes on it just gets you excited and I think it's such a great song. I'm so glad that they kept that and stuck with it and I hope, you know, I was trying to figure out how to make that song my ringtone, but I still can't figure it out so I might have to consult somebody on that.

Oh, you'll be able to do that. That would be so amazing. Your friends will be so excited.

I think it would be so fun.

I can not thank you enough for taking the time to talk with me today. And I'm so excited to see what happens to you and if you become a superstar.

Oh, thank you so much. Thank you for speaking with me. And Tweet us, we'll be sure to comment back and retweet and do all that stuff-

Absolutely.

... as the episodes continue to air.

Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Alright, alright. Thank you so much Carissa.

Don't forget everyone, S.W.A.T. airs Thursday nights on CBS at 10/9c. Tune in to the new show for some kickass action with comedy and heart. You won't be sorry!! If you missed the premiere, you can watch S.W.A.T. online right here.