The secrets of the famous detective-sergeant Rick Hunter (every Sunday on TF1)
Fred Dryer : “Cops are the modern heroes !”
“Hunter” is a TV success. Ok! But it’s not enough to say it to prove how much this detective series (broadcast on TF1 every Sunday afternoon) does great everywhere it is shown… The tough and thrilling adventures of detective Rick Hunter are watched by the viewers of about sixty countries and territories, from France to Bophutswana , in Argentina, in Korea, in Yugoslavia, in Mauritius, in Spain, in Hong Kong… In China, it is the most watched program, Rick Hunter is an all-round champion. In USA, this past season, one episode pulverized the record for the biggest audience share, ever reached by a weekly series. “Hunter” topped “Miami Vice”, becoming the number one detective series in the American ratings. Even the rerun episodes this summer never left the “Top 10” in the USA. To appreciate this triumph for it’s true value, we have to know that since the beginning of “Hunter” in the USA in 1984, 35 other new detective series have vainly tried to win viewers’ favor and have had to give up. Besides, at the beginning, no one really highly rated the detective’s chances. “Such bad cop show, it’s a crime!”, “The new series that really deserves to disappear”, that was what we could read from the TV critics’ pens… Why this glory today? Certainly to a large extent thanks to Fred Dryer, a former professional football player in the championship team The Los Angeles Rams. Age: 42. Marital status : Separated from the actress Tracy Vaccaro, dad of a 4 and a half year old daughter, Caitlin. Weight : 99 kilos. Height: 6 ft 6 inch. Who would have the audacity to ask for more details from this man built like a tank and sparing with his secrets ?
Did you prepare for the role of Detective Hunter by meeting with real cops?
Yes, rather well. I met, questioned, talked with a good many of detectives, police officers. I went on patrol with them… I should also say that in the crew we have a technical adviser, Fred McKnight, a former detective who worked in the LAPD for 25 years. He takes part in writing the scripts. There is another guy who works with us while we’re shooting to make sure that the series’ cops dress and behave like true LAPD cops.
In regards to me, family experience has been occasionally helpful too. I have a cousin in the Inglewood police and another one is a motorcycle cop in the Highway Patrol. One of my uncles was the captain of the Hawthorne police departmentand another one was a detective in Los Angeles in the thirties.
The routine of football
Have you ever dreamed of becoming a policeman yourself? Do you think you would have been a good detective?
I don’t know (laughter). Not too long time ago, we went to the police academy simulator. Videos are shown, and according to the scripts you have to quickly react, make decisions like: Can I shoot? Shoot who? All this is graded and it seems that I got an excellent score.
You were a football star. When you decided to quit, CBS offered you a nice contract as a sports commentator. You refused in order to take acting lessons.. And you had some lean years before “Hunter”…
I wanted to become an actor… I played professional football for 13 years. After 7 or 8 years, I started to realize that there should be something else in life, that I couldn’t continue the same routine all my life without being bored. I have always been fascinated by Hollywood. So I decided to be an actor and I did what was necessary. It’s more or less as simple as that.
Many athletes have tried to switch to show business but since Johnny Weissmuller, the successes are rather rare…
The mistake most of them make is to not realize they have to “kill” their sports image. They come with their glory, their names, often with their star’s pretensions and they expect to have a major role right now because they were famous football stars. This prevents them from lucidly considering the actor’s work. No, we have to start from scratch again and learn everything.
“My daughter, my battle” (Note of the translator: allusion to a French song of Daniel Balavoine “my son, my battle”)
Do you have a lot in common with Rick Hunter’s personality?
It’s hard to explain his personality to someone. Anyway, people make their own opinion themselves. Whatever I say, when you will leave, you’ll have your personal opinion on Fred Dryer, if he is funny, if he is shy or withdrawn, if he improves on acquaintance or not…All I can do is to be sincere by answering your questions.
Rick Hunter is a loyal and devoted police officer who isn’t satisfied with doing what one asks him. It’s a vocation. His job, he brings it back with him at home , he sleeps with, he wakes up with, he isn’t married because he married his job. I think the way I’ve chosen to live my life corresponds a little to this.
I’m convinced that use your capacities to do something we love is a real life pleasure. Boredom is the worst form of waste. A quality of Rick Hunter is he loves what he does and this consists in resolving problems. Personally, when I’m faced with a problem in my life, I also take the bull by the horns, I try to get to the bottom of the problem and to resolve it alone. I accept the responsibility of what happens to me , to my family. I try to act loyally, to be the most sincere and the most straightforward that I can be. Those are things I like about Rick Hunter and it’s a way of behaving myself that makes me feel good, and I’m not ashamed.
You have a daughter, Caitlin. Does she live with you or her mother?
In part with me, in part with her mother. Anyway, I phone her at least once a day. She is my priority. I don’t want her to forget who is her dad. I’m very possessive of this.
Apart from that, do you live alone?
Could you clarify a little what you like in life?
Of course. I played a lot of sports when I was young. Besides football, I liked baseball a lot . Mechanics also interests me. I had cars, many types of cars, fast or not, some new, some old. Motorcycles too. I really like Harley Davidsons. I adore spending time with my daughter. I love to go with her to the museum, the zoo, the beach (but I don’t like swimming). I like sporting events. I like beautiful paintings and pretty women (laughter).
I like classical music, especially Chopin… Finally, the series’ shootings pump you with so much energy! Every day, you have about one hundred people around you, who talk to you whether you’re available or not. So, I need to be alone sometimes. I prefer to listen to music, play with my daughter, go for a ride on my motorcycle rather than go out and meet other people again…
Apart from the job, do you see Stepfanie Kramer, your partner in the series?
From time to time, we dine together. These are not secret dates at all.
What is your relationship on the set? What can you say about her?
First, I have a very deep admiration for her. It’s a pleasure to work with her. I don’t know if people can imagine what it is to work 12 to 14 hours a day over 5 years with the same person. We finally know her even better than her own family. We know her emotions, we know how she considers her work… To succeed in working well together in these conditions, we have to share a great trust.
“Hunter” is broadcast in many foreign countries. Do you receive mail from fans?
About this, I admit that I find it amusing to discover the dubbed versions of the series. Two years ago, I was in Israel during the summer. One evening in my Tel Aviv hotel, I turned on the TV and I saw me speaking Arabic. The series was broadcast on Jordanian TV that Israelis watch a lot. I also saw an episode in Japanese a few days ago. I had a very guttural voice.
The death of a father.
What do they write you?
Mostly people ask for signed photos or simply say they like the series. I have never received really negative mail. I think that if someone takes some time to sit and write a letter to someone, it means he appreciates this person, he thinks that this is worth it.
How do you explain the success of “Hunter”?
I simply think that there’s nothing more interesting than a good detective story… When people turn on the TV, what are they looking for? They want to enjoy themselves, they want to get away and in the same time they want to identify with a character. And yet we are no more in the western movies era. There are no more new territories to conquer, no more new borders on the planet. It’s the time of technology and space… The detective stories tell the unusual events which can happen to anyone today, in all the cities, anywhere in the world.
Life is complicated, full of disillusions and problems. On TV, the hero comes to the rescue to resolve them. Cops are the modern heroes.
Do you yourself have a hero you particularly appreciate?
Not really…or rather if there’s one it’s my dad. He was a guy who worked with his hands, who owed nothing to no-one. He had a lot of honesty and dignity… He died when I was 17. He never had the time to see me play football, not even one time.
Do you have brothers and sisters?
A brother, Charlie. He is 44. He is the oldest. I’m 42. I know I don’t look like I’m 42 (laughter) but I’m 42. Already!
Do you intend to remain single?
For the moment, I don’t see a serious alternative.
Photo 1 : Fred Dryer in action in “Hunter”, the detective series broadcast by TF1 : Since 1984, 35 other detective have started and they all had to stop for lack of good audience ratings.
Photo 2 : Fred Dryer and Stepfanie Kramer : “We have worked together 12 to 14 hours a day for 5 years. I have a very great admiration for her! “
Photo 3 : Fred Dryer alias Rick Hunter, confiding in Joan Mac Trevor : “The sportsmen who want to switch to the job of actor have to start from scratch again and learn everything! “