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O, Captain!

Chicago native Andre Braugher keeps it light on the hit Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Andre Braugher, funny? Who knew?

Best known for his roles in the film Glory and TV series Men of a Certain Age and Homicide: Life on the Street, the Chicago native and St. Ignatius College Prep grad hadn’t had many opportunities to demonstrate his comedic chops. Then producers for the Fox cop comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine approached him about the role of by-the-book precinct Capt. Ray Holt. “I don’t know what they were thinking,” Braugher admits. “I was a little stunned because there’s nothing in my résumé to suggest this would be my thing.”

Two seasons and an Emmy nomination later, Braugher is the lynchpin of one of TV’s hottest sitcoms. “It turned out to really be a blessing,” he says. “I’m grateful on a daily basis to get an opportunity to explore a different aspect of my craft. There’s no doubt I’ll be back doing tragedies one day.”

Braugher says learning his character was gay concerned him only insofar as how Holt would be portrayed. “Typically, homosexual characters are the butt of the joke. But I was assured it was only an attempt to mirror New York as an incredibly diverse city, and that the writing always would be respectful.”

Braugher still holds “a great fondness and affection” for Chicago, but left in 1980 to attend Stanford on scholarship. It wasn’t his first lengthy journey.

“The pope came to Chicago in 1979, and at St. Ignatius, we held a walkathon to raise money,” he recalls. “We decided to walk 20 miles. It seemed pretty doable. But when you’re a city boy in leather shoes on blistering pavement, walking past Navy Pier and Soldier Field, that was unexpectedly the hardest movement I have done in my entire life. I did my part for the pope.”

Alexis Bittar, watching the full moon rise over the trees, my wheelbarrow (“it has two wheels in the front, which is the way I like my wheelbarrows”)

Lines of any kind [of people, not dialogue], cars with poor gas mileage, really long church sermons