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Mike Rock 3
Mike Rock as Lt. Dylan
Photo by Monk Crew

Mike Rock is a hard working actor who co-stars in "Mr. Monk Goes to Group Therapy" as the SFPD detective, Lieutenant Dylan. He's also made appearances in Law & Order and The Naked Brothers Band: The Movie as well as numerous commercials (you can see one at the bottom of this page) and lots of theater. He's also a voice over artist and a writer. Like Tony Shalhoub he haiIs from the dairy state of Wisconsin. I prevailed upon him to tackle a few questions about his Monk experience and he really stepped up.

How did you get the part on Monk?

Well, one of the casting associates (Corbin) had seen me do a short scene in an actor's showcase night and he saw an opportunity to bring me in for a role. They had originally read me for a different part and liked what I did with it, but as happens sometimes, they decided I should do this role instead. I was very gratified to be considered for both.

Why do you think they chose you for the role?

I think the role called for a certain degree of gravity, seriousness, a detective who is somewhat self-assured and has a bit of authority (not so much to come off as challenging the Captain) just confident enough in his work to be a bit bothered by Mr. Monk's inquiry. I am told I possess a degree of all those things, so I guess it's close to me.

What was your concept of the character? How did you approach it?

My concept of the character came from the script: as I said, he had to have a bit of seriousness and pride in his work so that he's a tad bothered by Mr. Monk's desire to re-examine his case. He seemed to me a hard-working, no b.s. type of detective who doesn't like to second guess himself let alone have others second guess him. I approached it thinking: well, I take pride in my work and like to be thorough so it can be tough when someone who's ~not~ my boss /director challenges that, so how would this guy feel? And I'm an actor; not a homicide detective, so this guy (Lt. Dylan) has a lot more at stake than I do when he feels challenged.

What do you think you may have brought to the role that wasn't in the script?

That is a tough question because the Monk scripts are so well written; it sounds sort of cliche to say it but "it's all on the page" meaning, everything you need to understand your character is in the script already. However, any actor, just by playing a role, naturally brings something to it that can't be seen in the written form. (Smart-alecky comments about "typical actors" aside) we are 3-dimensional humans and when we play a role we can't help but bring part of ourself to it. Specifically though, and at the risk of sounding pompous, I feel like perhaps I was able to make Lt. Dylan slightly more nuanced than one might expect to see in an co-star role cop on episodic television. I hope in my very brief scene I was able to convey a character who took his job and the situation very seriously, was able to stand up for himself & his work but also realized he'd been proven wrong and finally I hoped to convey that, even though you'd never seen him before-- he was a co-worker, teammate, etc on the SFPD and had a relationship with the other characters.

How long did it take?

The Monk crew works like a well-oiled machine. my scene was done in a few short hours. I think I arrived around 10:00am and left around 2:00pm. That includes wardrobe, make-up, rehearsal and shooting from all the angles.

What's the atmosphere on the set like?

Monk was a very, very friendly set. I felt very welcome, supported and respected at every turn. Not that that is so terribly unusual, but there are people who take an extra moment to be friendly and that's not always the case – people on sets are very busy and in most cases, seconds count. You come to expect that exchanges with crew will be quick and to the point. so when people are extra nice, you notice. Plus since the show was ending, some people had a sort of wistfulness or nostalgia going on. It's hard to explain. But I was really happy to have been able to meet and work with everyone.

Who was the director of the episode and what was he like to work with?

Anton Cropper. He had been 1st Assistant Director on something like 41 episodes, so he was part of the family for a long, long time. He was so nice and so easy to work with it was great. I knew from the audition (for the other role) that he was a nice guy and good with actors. On set he was mellow and made me feel very much at home. Which of course is what you want – to be relaxed – so you can do your job and do it right.

Co-star roles are sometimes harder than larger roles in a sense because your scene is usually very, very brief. Sometimes you have only a word or two or even no dialogue at all and you've never been on that set before (co-star actors only very rarely return because the characters rarely return and it's nearly never that an actor who'd been a co-star would return to a show in a different role – almost never) so you don't have days of preparation and rehearsal and time to get to know everyone – you just jump in and do it. So naturally, you want to do well, do it right the first time, not waste anyone's time etc, etc., because you know the cast and crew have much more to work on so you don't want to hold up the show.... A co-star is a bit like a plumber or an electrician or something; you show up with a certain duty to perform, you don't spend a lot of time hanging out, you come prepared to do the job under whatever conditions are present and that's it.

What was the most memorable moment for you during the filming?

The most memorable moment during the filming - well, can I pick two? If you look a the scene, Ted Levine & Jason Gray-Stanford and I are kind of squished together; Anton & Ted worked it out so I would start closest to Tony, explaining my case and that when Monk noticed something, The Captain would kind of "pull-rank" & push past me to get closer.

Group Therapy 14

They could have just had me step out of the shot at that point, but Ted & Jason wanted to make sure my character stayed involved in the scene – it was a nice gesture. The other was a moment in one of the takes where I somehow slowed down a couple words in my longer sentence and I felt it happen and thought "hm, hope no one else caught that" but of course 5 seconds later Anton came up and whispered something like: "that was great, let's just pick up the pace a bit...."

Did you watch the show before you got the role?

I had, yes. I am a Monk fan. Sorry to see it go.

You and Tony Shalhoub are both from Wisconsin. Did you have a chance to discuss that with him or find out if you have anything else in common?

Absolutely. We know some people in common and of course have spent time in a lot of the same places. We dairy state folks like to stick together. It was fun talking about that stuff.

How did you get into acting?

I am one of seven children, and one of the younger ones, so I was always performing - from the beginning. To paraphrase David Letterman, I think comedians & actors go into their line of work because they either got too much attention as a kid; or not enough. I always knew I wanted to be one of the people I saw on movies & on tv, so when a neighbor & friend of my folks was directing a play and asked my mom (and me) if I'd like to do it, I was pretty psyched. I think I was around 8 or 9 years old. From there, I just kept finding plays and things to feed the habit. I took any & every opportunity to make presentations in school (or just be a class clown.) I think it was really a clumsy attempt to impress girls. (Note: I should've learned to play guitar and been in a rock band.)

What do you enjoy most about acting?

Well, I have always felt this instinctual need or desire to entertain people, bring people together, to put people at ease, in a way. As I said, it started in my large family. Making my parents and siblings, etc, laugh was (and still is) my biggest thrill. That developed, as I grew up, to include not just making people laugh but moving people, affecting people, educating, motivating or simply distracting people from their day-to-day worries, etc.. So, I guess what I enjoy most is the combination of the chance to effect people in a positive way and the feeling of putting to good use the creative tools I've been given. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I do believe that artists in general and actors (in my case) specifically, channel something from the universe and are driven to express it. The writer James Lee Burke said: "Whatever degree of creative talent I possess was not earned, but was given to me by a power outside myself, for a specific purpose, one that has little to do with my own life." That's a powerful, if extreme, viewpoint about being artistically inclined.

What has been your best acting experience so far?

Hm. I'm always looking forward to whatever is coming next so I feel like I couldn't really pick a "best." For years I did improvisation & then sketch comedy with a group of my best friends. We had many moments over the years one could describe as "magical," "transcendent" and "amazing." We shared a lot of career "firsts" with one-another as writer/actors too. Personally, I have been lucky enough to hear about some moments when someone was particularly moved by a performance and when that happens, it is incredibly humbling and gratifying. I guess whenever the whole experience "clicks" on a project & in a scene; it feels completely natural, time disappears and there's this flow of creativity and connectedness; with the material, the actors, the director, the audience. Anytime you achieve something close to that, it's a great experience.

Professionally speaking, what's the one thing you'd most like to do that you haven't done yet?

Play a bad guy. Or a secretly bad guy. Or a good guy who you think is a bad guy but who, in the end, turns out to have been a good guy all-along but was just misunderstood. That and get a recurring role on a tv show.

What's next on your agenda?

I'm busy auditioning, doing commercials & voice-overs and with the help of friends, currently editing the pilot episode of a potential web series I co-wrote & acted in.

Dylan News
Photo by Monk Crew

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The Monk Fun Page Review of
"Mr. Monk Goes to Group Therapy"

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