“The important thing for me when I read scripts is how much respect I have for the character and how far I can take her” – Lina Esco
The new series S.W.A.T. — based on the 2003 hit film — features Lina Esco playing Christina “Chris” Alonso, the only female officer on a Los Angeles S.W.A.T. team. In an interview with Town & Country, Esco talks about the casting process and the responsibility she feels in portraying the role among the male characters.
Esco recalls the casting process, and explains what is important to her when she is preparing for a role. She recalls, “The casting director who cast me on Flaked, a Netflix series I did, brought me in. I honestly didn’t think I would get it. Sometimes you go in the room and do certain things and it feels like people don’t get what you’re going for. But then I got called back and was there with the director and we bonded; I felt then like I could see myself doing this. The important thing for me when I read scripts is how much respect I have for the character and how far I can take her—this was definitely a person I felt connected to and I think that came through.”
The connection that Esco felt to the character was based on the character’s role on the team. She points out, “I’m playing the only female officer on the entire team. I thought about the responsibility I have in portraying this role, and that no matter who’s watching it I have to portray her as someone equal to all of the guys on her team. I’ve been standing up for women’s rights for a long time, and this couldn’t have come for me at a better time. The way she’s written, her dialogue, could be said by a man—that’s what I love about the show, that what’s written for her could have been written for any of the characters. This is the way I’ve always wanted to see women portrayed. I want everyone watching this to think, wow, she’s so badass. That’s the responsibility I have for her.”
Of course, the series requires a lot of physical challenges — of which Esco had to prepare for. Yet, she was already in strong physical shape. She explains, “I’ve been boxing for eight years. It’s a sport I’ve gravitated to, so fighting is already in me. I’ve never gotten into a real fight, but sparring or hitting a bag and getting everything out is something that’s therapeutic for me. We started with 87Eleven Action Design, which is probably the best stunt training facility there is, and they’ve been doing this a long time. I started training there a month before shooting the pilot; after I started working there, the cast of S.W.A.T. was sent in for the same training I had already started on my own. We’re pushing ourselves at all times, and things are turning out even better than we could have imagined.”