From a soapie character nicknamed “Bitchy Bangs” to a backseat dancer in a Japanese car commercial to a police sketch artist, the Brooklyn Nine-Nine cast had some interesting entries on their resumes before starring in the hit comedy.
Andy Samberg: Japanese car star
Samberg has had a prolific comedy career to date, most notably as a stand-up comedian, a viral hit as part of The Lonely Island comedy troupe, and a writer and star of Saturday Night Live.
Detective Jake Peralta wasn’t Samberg’s first cop role. In “failed pilot” BPD (Baltimore Police Department), a cop satire created by The Lonely Island crew (including Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone), he played half of a blokey detective duo on stakeout who passed the time away by, er, pleasuring each other.
In 2003, he was cast in a Japanese car commercial for Honda to “dance” in a packed vehicle (that’s Samberg grooving in blue).
"The whole commercial was us dressed like lunatics in weird neon mesh outfits, sitting in a car dancing to the song 'Let's Groove',” he told Esquire magazine. “I can never hear that song again without having terrible flashbacks and going into conniption fits."
Stephanie Beatriz: twisted sister
Before she was the prickly Detective Rosa Diaz, her first regular TV gig, Beatriz popped up in a swag of guest starring roles, most notably as Gloria’s (Sofia Vergara) manipulative sister, Sonia, in Modern Family. She also appeared in the acclaimed 2013 indie Short Term 12 (now streaming on SBS On Demand).
Beatriz started her career with the theatre actor’s rite of passage: living hand-to-mouth in New York City. She recalls auditioning for Romeo and Juliet while the director dug “into a giant bag of loud crunchy chips and didn’t even look up”, but nevertheless went on to become a successful Shakespeare thesp.
Terry Crews: Old Spice guy
One of the standout performers in Brooklyn Nine-Nine as Sergeant Terry Jeffords, the imposing Crews is that rare beast - a sports star that transitioned to a successful career as a talented comedic actor.
Following a gig as, would you believe, a courtroom sketch artist, Crews played defenseman in the NFL from 1991 to 1996 for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Washington Redskins, the San Diego Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams.
Crews’ first Hollywood gig was as competitor “T Money” in Gladiator-esque TV spectacle Battle Dome. Later in his career, he would show off his impressive comic chops and physique as an Old Spice guy in a series of off-beat commercials.
Melissa Fumero: "Bitchy Bangs"
Fumero has had a prime opportunity to work her comedy muscles over four seasons of Brooklyn Nine-Nine as the uptight and studious Detective Amy Santiago, but before that, she embroiled herself in the high drama of veteran soap One Life to Live.
True to soapie form, Fumero channelled her inner nasty into her character, Adriana Colón/Cramer, who earnt the nickname “Bitchy Bangs”! During her four or so years as a resident character, she was kidnapped and stalked, survived a car accident and punched by a love rival, among other turbulence.
Andre Braugher: serious TV cop
Braugher had been known as a serious TV and film actor before landing the role of wry, no-nonsense Captain Ray Holt in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, in which he’s revealed his hidden comedian with well-honed comic timing.
Cops have been a mainstay of Braugher’s TV career, starting out with the role of Detective Winston Blake in a series of Kojak telemovies. His unlikely casting in Brooklyn Nine-Nine was a masterstroke saturated in irony, with Braugher no doubt channelling his very serious Emmy-winning role as Detective Frank Pembleton in acclaimed drama Homicide: Life on the Street.
Chelsea Peretti: stand-up comedian
New York native Peretti has been developing the dry, sardonic comic style that defines her Brooklyn Nine-Nine character, PA Gina Linetti, for years now as a successful stand-up comedian.
Also known as a talented TV writer, Peretti has frequented the writing rooms of Saturday Night Live, Parks & Recreation, The Sarah Silverman Program and Kroll Show.
She’s been a prolific guest star on TV appearing in Comedy Bang Bang!, Key and Peele (she married comedian Jordan Peele last year), Parks & Recreation and as the first love interest in Louie.
Joe Lo Truglio: nerdy camp counsellor
Before scoring the role of loveable doofus Detective Charles Boyle, Lo Truglio was already a comedy veteran. As part of the ensemble cast of cult comedy Wet Hot American Summer, he filled out short shorts and donned nerdy glasses as mulleted summer camp counsellor Neil. He reprised the role in Netflix’s 2015 prequel series, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, looking like he’d barely aged a year.
Before that, Lo Truglio was part of comedy troupe The Slate in MTV’s cult '90s sketch comedy series of the same name. He’s also played characters at opposite ends of the legal spectrum, voicing mobster Vincenzo “Lucky Vinnie” Cilli in the Grand Theft Auto video game series and playing Deputy Franky Rizzo in comedy Reno 911!
Watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine weeknights on SBSVICELAND.