Major Crimes fans may be heartbroken about the show's cancellation, but there's still plenty to enjoy on the final season. Sharon and Andy just tied the knot, and Rusty's ex-boyfriend Gus showed up at the wedding, signifying more relationship drama ahead.
And though the series isn't ending yet, a five-part mystery just wrapped up, so if you watch for the investigations, red herrings, and Lieutenant Provenza's wisecracks, there's something new to look forward to.
TV Fanatic recently had the opportunity to speak with Graham Patrick Martin, who has played Rusty Beck since the last episode of The Closer, which Major Crimes spun off from in 2011. Read on to learn about Graham's perspective on his character, what the wrap-up of the series has been like for him, and more!
We've seen Rusty grow and evolve in a lot of different ways over the course of the show. What was your favorite arc to play?
I think my favorite arc to play was in Season 3 when I was going to the park and playing chess and trying to lure the bad guy out and he ultimately ended up trying to kill me. And I think I liked that the most because I thought that was the show's best effort to mesh together the crime and Rusty's storyline.
Those are my favorite episodes -- when the storylines are intertwined. It's also great when they're separate, but I liked that one because they were completely together.
Rusty ended up coming out to Sharon at the end of that story, didn't he?
Yes. My favorite part of that episode was when Rusty came up to G.W. Bailey's character, Lieutenant Provenza, and said he hoped this wouldn't change anything and he said, "As long as you don't come in here wearing your Village People attire."
Rusty and Provenza seem to bounce off of each other in interesting ways. It seems like you and G.W. Bailey have a lot of fun with those scenes.
I have sort of a different relationship with him than I do with all the cast. We're all really close, but G.W. really became like a grandfather, but also like a friend to me, which is really fantastic.
We had the episode where G.W is teaching me how to tie a tie and then, I think a month later, I literally had to go to him and ask him to tie my tie because I didn't know how. Our relationship on-screen and our relationship in real life is kind of similar.
One of the things we discuss a lot on TV Fanatic is what's going on with Rusty and Gus, and viewers have different viewpoints about whether they like the relationship or not. What is your personal point of view about this relationship?
It's hard because James [Duff, the head writer] has permission to do this, but he pulls things from our lives a little bit. So I sort of went through a break-up recently, and I kind of know that every time something big happens in my life, it's going to show up in the script the next week.
It ended up being a really easy arc to play, the whole breakup and everything with Gus.
And now we're in this place, if you watched the last episode, in this situation where Gus is back again, and Rusty has to decide: am I gonna continue to punish Gus over what he did, or am I gonna give him a second chance?
Which is really hard because Gus is the first person that has ever loved Rusty in that way and the first person Rusty has ever loved in that way.
It's gonna be tough. But it's a pretty emotionally charged storyline we have coming up here.
Speaking of real life, how has participating in Rusty's journey as a gay teenager influenced your outlook or awareness about LGBT issues?
I've always said I'm an honorary gay because I play a gay guy on TV and I grew up going to musical theatre summer camp, and I went to a performing arts high school in New York. So I've always been a big fan of the gay community.
I think my favorite, favorite thing about playing Rusty is that when people come up and recognize me, a lot of times they say "Thank you for telling my story," which I think is a lot more impactful for me as an artist.
It means a lot to people to see someone like them on the television. And for that, I am always going to be grateful for Rusty.
Another beautiful moment that happened was that I was seeing a Broadway show in New York, and this burly man with a thick New York accent approaches me right before the curtain was about to go up, and he said, "Because of you, I know how to communicate with my son better, who is like Rusty."
And I think that's something great about this character of Rusty, who was really created by James Duff, has brought to the world.
It's really a form of advocacy. Do you do any type of advocacy outside of the show, with organizations or anything like that?
Yes! There are two organizations I'm really really involved in.
The first one is one that everyone on Major Crimes is involved in, and that's The Sunshine Kids. It's a really, really fantastic organization that basically provides fun life experiences for kids who are undergoing cancer treatment.
Which I think is really interesting for an organization, because many of these organizations that are fantastic are about research and funding, but this one is about basically reaching out to kids who are going through treatment and then taking them somewhere they've never been, like to see a Broadway show or to Los Angeles. So that's one organization I'm really involved in.
And the other one that really relates a lot to Rusty is called Covenant House California.
I became involved in Covenant House because they honored our show for our portrayal of homeless youth, in the form of Rusty.
Covenant House is a homeless shelter for youth in Los Angeles, a lot of whom are LGBT. Our relationship with them has really grown, to the point that some of the cast members have been doing writing workshops with the kids over at Covenant House. It's been a really amazing partnership.
That sounds really great! Going back to Major Crimes, I know you can't spoil anything, but are you satisfied with the way Rusty ends up, and do you think viewers will be satisfied at the end of the series?
Yes! This season really is for the fans.
They've changed time slots on us. They've changed days of the week. They've premiered us on Halloween. There are so many things that have put our show in a position to fail, and despite all of that, our fans just followed us, and they've been with us every step of the way, and they've remained engaged, and they find us wherever we're hiding.
And as a result, I think the writers have done a fantastic job of writing a finale and a final season that will reward our fans for all of their commitment throughout these six years of Major Crimes and going back to The Closer.
I'm thrilled with it. I'm almost certain the fans will be thrilled with it too. It's going to be really exciting for the rest of the season.
What was your reaction when you found out Major Crimes hadn't been renewed?
You know, we kind of had a hint because we could tell the network was going in a different direction, which is fine, it's their prerogative. I think we were all sad, but proud of the work we had done, and I don't think we have many regrets as a whole. I think we all left it out there.
We all really worked hard for six seasons to make sure we're putting the best product out there for our loyal fans. So we were all sad but proud at the same time, and it was a little bittersweet.
It seems like, working on the show, you and the cast and crew became kind of like a family.
Absolutely. We're still a family. The show is over, but we still haven't stopped hanging out. Like the other day, me, G.W. and Mary were all at a Rams game. So we're all still hanging every day, and we're gonna be together this coming week. We haven't stopped, and I don't think it's gonna stop, which is great.
Do you watch the show when it airs and see how it came out?
Yes! I always do. You know, when I was younger, I was stubborn about it because I read an article that said Johnny Depp doesn't watch his movies, and so I was like, oh I shouldn't watch my stuff because Johnny Depp doesn't watch his.
But as I got a little older, I realized that I learn the most from watching the show, as an actor, because I see it and I know what I need to continue to do and what I need to stop doing and how to improve.
And also, I eventually got out of my head a little bit and became a fan of the show.
I love seeing the product of our entire cast and crew's hard work. You know, you guys just see the cast, but we have a whole crew of people who are working their butts off to really make a powerhouse show, and it's fun seeing everyone's work pay off.
So if there were to be a reunion, say 10 years from now, what would you hope Rusty would be doing?
Oh my gosh! I would hope that Rusty... well, Rusty wouldn't like this, but I would like Rusty to ultimately become a district attorney, even though he has no desire to. He wants to be a lawyer, but he wants to go into family law right now, but I would love to see Rusty be a D.A. and actually be really darn good at his job.
And also, happily in a healthy relationship, whether it be with Gus or with someone else.
At what point do you think Rusty made the switch from being in journalism to being interested in law? It seemed like it happened over a hiatus.
It was a jump, but I think it sort of happened gradually, and I think it was just because of the environment that Rusty grew up in. I think he's seen the environment he's been in, and he's seen his judgments and his critiques of it, and so he translates that into Oh, I never want to be a part of that.
But I think naturally, his life force is taking him towards a place where he knows he can improve it.
So I think starting with journalism was a good way for him to take his mind and his activism and get that out there, and then because of his ties to the justice system, he was able to seamlessly make that jump over.
This has all been pretty cool to see. Are there things in particular that you do to prepare for the heavier, more emotional scenes?
I think Rusty's storyline is so heartbreaking in itself, so there's not a time that I need to do anything to prep besides read the beautiful work that James Duff and the rest of the writing staff write. They're so tapped into Rusty as a person, and I've been playing him for so long, and I understand what he's been going through.
So when I get the pages, it's often very easy to tap into that emotional space, because the writers do such a good job of illustrating it.
Switching gears, what's next for you now that Major Crimes has finished?
I just directed a short film called Recondition, which tackles the opioid epidemic in suburban Massachusetts, and that starred Paul Guilfoyle from CSI. He's done 400 episodes of CSI; he's done it forever.
So I just directed that, and I can't say much, but I think I'm going to be directing another pretty exciting film in April.
And then in the meantime, I'm just ready for the next acting gig, which I'm going to start looking for.
Going back to Major Crimes for a second, what were your expectations when you first began playing Rusty?
Well, I don't know if you've heard this story, but Rusty originally was a guest star. He was meant to be in one episode, on the finale of The Closer, and he was meant to have that big situation with Brenda during her final scenes, and then he was never supposed to be on the show again.
So I expected to be that guest star and then leave, and that would be it because The Closer was ending, and I didn't know there was going to be a spin-off. And then about halfway through, James Duff approached me and asked me if I had any interest in being a series regular on a TV show and I was like, YEAH.
I was kind of confused because I knew The Closer was ending and then he sort of walked away.
So I go home, and I get on the Internet, and I Google "Closer spinoff" because I'm like, no way, unless he has a friend or he has another show happening, I don't understand how Rusty can continue. And I read this article online that they were spinning off into this show called Major Crimes.
And then I get a call a couple of days later from my agent that, hey, the creator called, and he wants you to continue on the show.
So to be honest, I didn't have any expectations. I was like, oh my gosh, I'm so lucky. My expectations were to do one episode, and that would be it, but James sort of came up with this idea, and in a matter of days it completely changed my life.
I was very lucky to learn on the set and be able to learn from all these actors. I consider it like college for me.
Are you hoping for your next role to be something completely different or do you enjoy playing similar types of characters?
Because I've been playing the same character for six years, I'm totally up for playing anything right now!
I always want to stick to characters that excite me and that I'm interested in. I don't think I have a specific type I want to play after Rusty.
But I guess that's the sweet part of the bittersweet of the show ending: I am looking forward to playing something other than the same character I've played for six years.
Any last thing you'd like to say to your fans?
Sure! I'd like to say again, thank you, thank you, thank you to the fans of Major Crimes. There was so much stacked against us, and we survived longer than most TV shows, literally 100% because of the fans.
It's such a cliche thing to say, you hear actors say it all the time, but Major Crimes, I'm telling you, would not have survived this long if it were not for the commitment by the fans.
So just a massive, massive thank you to the fans for listening to these stories and wanting these stories to be told.
Major Crimes airs Tuesdays at 9 EST/8 CST on TNT! Make sure to tune in for the rest of the final season, and don't forget you can watch Major Crimes online if you missed anything!
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.