Rick Hunter: Ace Cop and Great Dad

Fred Dryer, the Saturday night television star, welcomed Isabelle Caron at his Los Angeles’ home, together with his daughter Caitlin. He chatted with her about his young daughter but also about his character and the filming that will start up again in September now that the screenwriter’s strike is over. An exclusive interview for “Télé 7 jours”.

A pile of books and scripts shows that the master of the house has a passion for reading: “Oh, I have had time to devote myself to it.” Fred Dryer smiles, or if you prefer Rick Hunter, the hero of Saturday night on Tf1. “I have been on forced unemployment since March, but the writer’s strike is over and the series will start shooting again on September 6th. It will be our 5 th year.” With him, in his Brentwood apartment duplex, in the center of Los Angeles, is his daughter Caitlin who is trying to catch his attention: “She was born on April 12 th 1984 and she is the greatest love of my life…” Fred Dryer was 42 on July 6 th. Separated from his wife Tracy, he lives alone and the writer’s strike has enabled him to enjoy being with Caitlin. In the USA, “Rick Hunter” is one of the most popular series and Fred the most in demand as an actor.

He tells me, "I have never received photographers at home these last years and even less if my daughter was here. But I received so many letters at the studio from French viewers who love the series, that I wanted to meet with you. Besides, I hope to go to France next year.”  Caitlin is thirsty! But she won’t get her favorite soda. “Too much sugar” Fred says. “When she is with me, I don’t let her have candy, white bread, or meat. Fruits and vegetables, that’s what is the healthiest.” He himself is an athlete of 6ft 6inch and 110 kilos who keeps in shape by jogging and working out at the gym.

Don’t forget that I’m a former football player with the Los Angeles Rams. If the coaches hadn’t forced me to leave the team, maybe I would have never turned to the job of sports commentator at CBS, and then to acting!” Caitlin, who got her glass of fruit juice, goes on playing with her dad, ace cop and great Dad. “She was born by caesarean and then I was the first to take her in my arms. Then I stayed at the hospital for three days so I wouldn’t have to leave her. She even slept near me rather than near her mother. Since then, there has been a unique bond between us. She is very grown up for her age and we have great conversations. If she wants to be an actress when she’s older, I will help her, but until then, I want her to have a normal childhood.” For Caitlin, Fred refuses some roles : “I want her to be proud of her daddy. A script with gratuitous violence doesn’t interest me. I really consider Rick Hunter like my alter ego. He is a cop who fights against criminals who ruin the lives of the others. I have acted in 88 episodes and I don’t grow tired of it.” Fred Dryer directed 3 episodes of the series: “With my partner, Stepfanie Kramer, we have suggested some script ideas for several episodes. For a series to have lasting success, lead actors shouldn’t be content with just playing their roles. I have also created a production company with my partner Ray Kubik, called Cyclone Films. We have some movies and series projects.” Caitlin asks for another glass of fruit juice. Here is a father happy that his health lesson works. They kiss each other. “We adore each other! She hasn’t left me these last weeks. We played together and she helped me to repaint my motorcycle, a Harley Davidson 82. Like reading, fixing things relaxes me. Filming is very gruelling.”

Since last year, Fred has negotiated working days of only 12 hours from his producer Stephen J. Cannell (co-creator of the series with Frank Lupo). “Before, we were in the studio and on location 16 hours a day. Every morning when I get up, I have from 12 to 15 pages of dialogue to learn, about twenty scenes to shoot. You can’t make too many mistakes! We have to finish one episode in one week. Every week, we shoot the equivalent of half a movie. What gets me through it, is my friendship with Stepfanie, and our camaraderie.”

Fred Dryer, a conscientious, meticulous and perfectionist actor, holds a logbook: “ These are notes on Rick Hunter, the character. I write all he must do or must not do, then we discuss it with the 2 creators-producers and the writers. At the beginning, they wanted me to imitate Clint Eastwood in “Dirty Harry” and I had to write a real essay on my own way to portray Rick Hunter.” Fred also says that – towards the beginning of the series- he was refused a pay raise and that he quit. Joe Cortese replaced him in one episode. But the producers begged him to come back as the viewers were furious. We understand them when, like me, we had the chance to meet Rick Hunter…and his pretty daughter…

From Los Angeles,

Isabelle Caron

Photo1: Fred Dryer with our reporter Isabelle Caron, in his duplex’s lounge he has decorated himself .

Photo 2: Fred Dryer and Caitlin : “She is a wonderful little girl and fortunately life hasn’t separated us.”

Photo 3: “I force myself to read every day at home but also in my dressing room during filming.”

Photo 4: Stepfanie Kramer plays Dee Dee McCall, the other star of the series “Hunter”: “ She is really a great actress and we have a lot of esteem and respect for each other.” Fred Dryer says.