|EW.com originally reached out to Jesse L. Martin to get his memories of starring in Rent for an upcoming feature we're doing on the musical. But after today’s announcement that he’ll be leaving Law & Order after nine years as Detective Ed Green, we took the opportunity to ask him about his decision to give up the steadiest meal ticket on TV.|
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, what? Nine years is enough?
JESSE L. MARTIN: [Laughs] Actually, yeah.
Are there any blocks in New York City that you have not filmed on at this point?
I don’t think so. I don’t even know, but I don’t think so. We’ve literally been everywhere. I mean, everywhere.
So you’re happy about this decision.
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m definitely happy about it. It was pretty much time for me. I need to get back on stage before I get too scared to do it again. And with that schedule, it would be really difficult for me to ever really get to do anything like that.
More after the jump.
Do you have a project in mind?
Not particularly, no. At least not any project that I can sort of announce publicly. But the whole idea is just to get back into that. Because I’m an actor. I wanna stay an actor. Not that you can’t do that on TV, but I wanna get on stage.
Have people been calling and trying to talk to you about this all day?
They have. I actually didn’t know they were going to announce it, because I wasn’t really supposed to talk about it, I guess. And then there it was in the paper, and I was like, "Oh. I guess that’s gonna happen."
How long have you known?
Not long at all. I honestly couldn’t leave, according to my contract. I could have said, "Hey, I’m ready to go," but they could have easily said no. But Dick [Wolf, L&O's creator] has always been really cool about that sort of thing. He always says if an actor is ready to leave, is ready to go, that he’ll allow them to go. And they were pretty cool with it. I’m really glad. I had a great time there. I feel like I went to actor boot camp and I’m coming out a colonel.
Are we going to learn in that last episode that Ed was secretly a lesbian the whole time?
[Laughs] Oh god. I hope not. I don’t want to end it like that. Give me something crazy to do! Well, not that crazy. But who knows? I don’t even know how it’s gonna end, that’s the other thing. I have no idea how it’s gonna end.
You don’t have an ideal situation? “I wanna go out in a blaze of glory like this”?
You mean Set It Off style? No. I don’t wanna die, to be honest. I really don’t. I don’t wanna die. I like the possibility of maybe returning for some reason. It’d be nice to have, like, a mysterious exit. But of course, none of this is up to me. They can end it the way they see fit.
You might have earned some say in it.
I don’t know. I mean, I’m sure they’ll listen to me, but ultimately, it’s their show. They can make it do what it wants to do. I just hope it’s a cool exit. I really do.
Do you L&O guys and the people who have been on ER since time began have some kind of support group?
[Laughs] No, but that’s a damn good idea. Maybe George Clooney can run something like that.
And up next you're playing Marvin Gaye in the biopic Sexual Healing. When do you start shooting that?
We’re hoping in April. Springtime. That’s what I’m being told at this point.
What are you doing to prep yourself for that?
A whole lot of stuff, actually. Getting my voice back in shape. If you don’t sing all the time, it sort of dims a little bit.
Have you been a fan for years and years?
Like, a crazy fan. Who isn’t a fan of that guy?
“Piece of Clay.”
Is there a new spin you think can bring to the biopic genre at this point?
I certainly hope so. And even if it’s not a new spin, I hope it’s a good spin. It’s hard to even speculate what the reaction could be, because we haven’t even gone into production. But the hope is to do supreme justice to the man himself.