Interview: Ian Anthony Dale on TNT’s Murder in the First, James Bond and Namor

ian anthony dale_gabrielgoldbergPhoto by Gabriel Goldberg

We last did an interview with Ian Anthony Dale on his role as Scorpion in the Mortal Kombat: Legacy 2 web series. He was recently seen on Hawaii Five-0, and now he can be seen on the new series from TNT called Murder in the First which premieres tonight at 10/9c.

On the show, Dale plays Lieutenant Jim Koto, the boss of detectives Terry English (Taye Diggs) and Hildy Mulligan (Kathleen Robertson). We had the chance to chat him up on his role, Mortal Kombat, James Bond, Namor and more.

John “Spartan” Nguyen (Nerd Reactor): Can you tell us about Murder in the First?

Ian Anthony Dale: It’s a complex murder mystery that will be told through multiple episodes. It’s a little bit of a detective drama and a little bit of a courtroom drama. We follow homicide detectives Terry English and Hildy Mulligan as they investigate two seemingly unrelated murders, but they discover that both murders have a common denominator in Silicon Valley tech genius Erich Blunt. We basically ask the question, “What would happen if someone like Mark Zuckerberg were suddenly involved in a murder investigation. There will be interesting plot twists. We’re going to be taking people on a fun ride.


I play Lieutenant Jim Koto, who’s the boss of the homicide detectives. My character is very auspicious. He has aspirations to one day be the mayor of San Francisco. He sort of straddles the line between cop and politician. As the season unfolds, we’ll start to see how his ambition can cloud his judgement and affect his relationship. He’s a departure from the characters I have played in the last two years, like Scorpion and Adam from Hawaii Five-0. I’m playing a good guy.

Nerd Reactor: Well, Scorpion is kinda considered an anti-hero.

Ian Anthony Dale: Yeah, he’s just a little misguided.

Nerd Reactor: What’s the one show you’re in that your fans love the most?

Ian Anthony Dale: You know, I would have to say Hawaii Five-0 has such a global audience. It’s such a big international hit that I probably received the most visibility from that show. The second to that would be Mortal Kombat. I hope people respond well with Murder in the First and Jim Koto.

Nerd Reactor: Usually in shows characters stay the same. Since your character aspires to be the mayor, do you think Jim Koto will actually become mayor in the show one day?

Ian Anthony Dale: I think it’ll be interesting to watch. He’s always trying to position himself to that next promotion. Sometimes it can put his relationship in jeopardy as a result of that. An added element to my character is that he’s in a relationship with a coworker that he has to keep secret. If they were to be found out, it would derail his career trajectory considerably. Hopefully if we get more seasons, we’ll see Koto ascend at some point.

Nerd Reactor: That’d be really cool. Just imagine in the season finale, we see a chair. It spins around and reveals you in the Mayor’s seat.

Ian Anthony Dale: [laughs] Like House of Cards. I think that’s the nature of the show. We’ve got this grand mystery happening while simultaneously we also have these character dramas. Terry English is dealing with the loss of his wife with the battle with cancer. Hildy Mulligan is a single mom and recently divorced. She’s got an interesting storyline that the audience can relate to. Then you have my character with his political aspiration. It’s nice because you can give people the mystery and also give them these little character elements that are relatable that makes you want to root for them.

Nerd Reactor: I do like the format where one murder is spread out throughout the whole season.

Ian Anthony Dale: It’s more realistic to how investigations actually are. My brother is a homicide investigator for the Minneapolis Police Department. Never have I talked to him where he says, “Oh yeah, we were at the scene of the crime earlier today. We just solved the case and it’s night time.” It never happens that lickety-split. It takes time. It takes several months, and sometimes it takes years. This format that we’re using is more realistic. People are going to realize there’s a wonderful payoff at the end.

Nerd Reactor: Do you have aspirations to be in more movies?

Ian Anthony Dale: I’m enjoying working. Whether it’s film or television, it doesn’t really matter to me. I’m just happy to have a job. As long as I can continue to work, I’ll be happy.

Nerd Reactor: Let’s imagine you got your big break. Do you have that one project that you want to be a part of?

Ian Anthony Dale: You know what? I’d love to play James Bond one day. [laughs] Let’s reach for the stars. I realize that may be difficult, since he’s always been played by a Brit. I think if they were to go with another ethnic direction, Idris Elba would be a fantastic choice to play Bond. If we ever evolve as a society and as an industry where they’re actually considering an Asian James Bond, I’d certainly love to throw my hat in the ring. By that time I might be 55 years old.

Nerd Reactor: If you had a chance to play a comic book character, who would you want to play as?

Ian Anthony Dale: Namor the Sub-Mariner. You know, I have the widows peak. I’ll throw my hat in the ring on that one as well if it ever pops up. I have an affinity to the ocean, after having spent so much time in Hawaii in the last couple of years. I guess we have that in common too.

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