"A lot of young, minority characters on television aren't necessarily portrayed as articulate and intelligent as Gabriel is," he said, adding that the part wasn't originally written with a black actor in mind.
All that said, Gabriel's image might suffer a dent or two after tonight's "Closer," a special 70-minute episode in which the ambitious young sergeant loses his temper and "basically crosses some lines within the squad, and forces Brenda to make some difficult decisions," Reynolds said.
The episode, titled "Ruby," centers on the disappearance of a young African-American girl, and like most episodes of the summer's most-watched cable drama, turns on what happens in the interrogation room.
"It's really going to redefine what people think of Gabriel," said the actor, who's hoping the attention he's getting for "The Closer" will translate into some progress into his efforts to turn John Stewart - the African-American architect who's the alter-ego of one of the most popular Green Lanterns - into a big-screen action hero.
"Warner Bros., [which] owns DC Comics," and the rights to the Stewart character, "they're sitting on a 'Star Wars' epic," said Reynolds, who's already written a script for one movie and outlined the remaining stories for what he sees as - naturally - a trilogy.
"I'm really eager . . . to get in there and present my ideas to them, because 'The Closer's' produced by Warner Bros., so I now have a few friends over there," he added.
"There are lots of people who'd like to see a movie with Hal Jordan," an earlier Green Lantern character, "and I would like to see a movie with Hal Jordan as well," Reynolds said, adding that because of the animated series "Justice League" and "Justice League Unlimited," "John has become the more popular character" among younger fans.
He's also a face that Reynolds argues isn't often seen in the comics world.
"There's never been a traditional, all-American black superhero, or minority superhero, for that matter. You had Blade, but he was half-vampire and ripping people's hearts out and stuff, and you had Catwoman, who came back from the dead, for vengeance, and you had Spawn . . . who was actually a general in Satan's army," he said.
"There's never been a Superman with a minority face."
Comedies like "Blankman" and "Meteor Man" "are great, but I think one wonderful thing, a great opportunity that John presents is, you know, it's interesting to see a hero that the universe chooses because of who they are. A Green Lantern isn't born with their abilities - they're chosen by the universe to represent the universe," he said.
"I also think it's a great message to send to kids because a Lantern is powered by their will. Without their will, they lose."
But it takes more than willpower to make a movie. And superheroes require super budgets.
"It's a big picture," Reynolds conceded, "and it's one thing to convince them to make the movie, and it's another thing to convince them to keep me on board creatively. And another thing to convince them to let me star."
Meanwhile, he's taking lessons in leadership from Sedgwick.
"Kyra's great," he said. "There's a lot of art imitating life within our relationship. Gabriel studies Brenda and learns from Brenda. I study Kyra, and I learn from her. I learn how to be graceful when the days get long. What it is like to be No. 1 on the call sheet."
At one point, he said, someone in the production office "counted the words that Brenda says in an episode versus some other female leads on television. It's not even close . . . she talks fast, she talks a lot, but, you know, to be able to cram all that information, get it every time, nail it every time, it's impressive.
"And I couldn't have asked for a better case study, as a young actor in my first television series, [than] to have the group of people that I'm working with, because they're very experienced, they're very seasoned, and not only do they know their craft, they know the industry. So it's a wonderful opportunity for me to learn and grow."
And maybe, one day, to fly. *
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