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Chicago Sun-Times - "Elmhurst's Hurley hoping 'Nasty Boys' boosts career" - May 4, 1990

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Chicago Sun-Times

May 4, 1990

Elmhurst's Hurley hoping `Nasty Boys' boosts career

Author: Jae-Ha Kim

Page: 64

Elmhurst native Craig Hurley had studied various acting techniques before he landed a starring role on NBC's new cop show "Nasty Boys," but none of his classes prepared him for what took place during the first week of rehearsals.

A group of black-garbed men burst into the actors' rehearsal room, threw them down on the floor, handcuffed them and read them their rights. Actors, meet the real Nasty Boys, an elite unit of the North Las Vegas Police Department trained to deal with criminals in an efficient, if unorthodox, manner.

"Nasty Boys," the series, is based on the exploits of that unit in taking on the city's drug pushers and gunrunners. It airs from 8 to 9 p.m. Fridays over WMAQ-Channel 5.

"It was really wild, because it was so unexpected," said Hurley, who portrays youngest Nasty Boy Danny Larsen. "The whole point was to show us that the Nasty Boys work quickly and rely on surprise to get the criminals. I guess we were supposed to be the the criminals during that attack, only we didn't know it.

"When the real Nasty Boys came in on us, James (Pax, who plays Jimmy Kee) was the only one who really reacted as a real criminal might. He got up immediately and started fighting back and doing martial arts. So they `shot' him. Me? I was picked up, thrown down and handcuffed within five seconds. It definitely was a humbling experience."

For Hurley, 22, "Nasty Boys" is a chance for him to be seen in a different light. On roles last season on "Hunter" and "21 Jump Street," Hurley played a teenage drug peddler and a high school burn-out, respectively. This season, he appeared in a recurring role on ABC's highly acclaimed series "Life Goes On," playing a motorcycle riding delinquent who ended dates by telling his girlfriend to "dream about me."

"That character was real fun to do, because he was so stupid and didn't even know it," Hurley said, laughing. "The thing is, a lot of high school girls go for jerks like that. I don't know - I guess it's that forbidden-fruit thing."

Danny Larsen isn't exactly Mr. Goody-Goody, either, but at least he's on the right side of the law. Of all the characters Hurley's played in his two-decade career, Larsen is the one he relates to the most, he said.

"I'm definitely a smart aleck, and Danny is, too," Hurley said in a recent phone conversation, taking a break from moving out of a Studio City, Calif., apartment into a high-security Encino condominium. "He's actually a little worse than I am, because he goes right to the point all the time. But he's got a gun, so he can get away with it. I don't, and can't."

Hurley, who is half-Irish and half-Sioux Indian, said he enjoys being on an ensemble show, especially for his first series. The burden of the show's success doesn't ultimately land on his shoulders.

It helps that the cast members share a strong friendship, Hurley said, and in some cases, a strong bond. Hurley and co-stars Don Franklin and Dennis Franz (in the only non-hunk role on the series) originally hail from Chicago. And Franklin and Benjamin Bratt worked together on 1988's short-lived "Knight Watch."

But realistically, how tight can camaraderie between the actors be when they are vying for precious on-screen time? Remember the reported fights on the set of "Charlie's Angels," where the actresses complained that one co-star's legs or hair were being given more screen time than another's?

"What they're doing is giving us each episodes devoted primarily to our characters," Hurley said. "This way the audience can learn more about the characters, and get to know who we are. I'm sure it's also a way of keeping all our egos in check, although there have been no problems of that sort so far. We're all pretty cool about what we do and who we are. There are no egomaniacs on the show. If there was, he would probably hate the way we do the billing on the credits, which is alphabetically."

Hurley, who admits he's not the most patient person in the world, said he always was in a hurry, even as a kid. He learned to speak at 4 months, spewed five-syllable words at 12 months, and climbed fences at 18 months. Shortly afterward, he started acting and singing.

At age 4, he did a commercial for a local automobile dealership where his major requirement was to look cute and wave at the camera. By grammar school, he was able to do dead-on imitations of Elvis Presley, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Shaun Cassidy and, even more importantly to his classmates, Scooby-Doo.

"I don't know where I got any of this desire to perform, because my family is totally normal," he said in a deep voice that belies his baby-faced looks. "My father's an engineer, my mother's an accountant and real estate agent, my brother is in the Air Force and my sister is a first-grade school teacher. I just kind of popped out.

"But even though I was the youngest in the family and definitely not headed in the direction my brother and sister went for, my parents never tried to dissuade me from what I was doing. They encouraged me all the way, and my career finally seems to be paying off."

Dissatisfied with the mundane life he was leading in Elmhurst, Hurley convinced his parents to let him attend high school at the Chicago Academy for the Performing Arts, where he graduated four years ago. Hurley then moved to Los Angeles and studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

After graduating in 1988, Hurley won himself a radio position as sidekick to shock radio DJ Guy Kemp on Los Angeles' KMPC radio. When the controversial DJ lost his job, Hurley's radio career ended, too.

"It was a lot of fun, and I got to learn what radio was all about, but I can't say I'm particularly depressed it all ended," Hurley said. "Acting is more my speed. But it was something to do, and it did help me get over my homesickness."

While you can take the boy out of Chicago, that doesn't mean he has to like it. Hurley's less homesick now because his high school sweetheart drove down in a van with his dog, Hoser, and her kitten, Panoosh, to be with him. They're his family during his duration there, which he hopes won't be too much longer.

"I know that if I hadn't moved to California, I wouldn't have made it this far in my career," Hurley said. "But I hate L.A. As soon as I can, I'm moving. Here, you just have to find ways to survive and get around all the jerks.

"I want to be like Harrison Ford, where he has this great career and can afford to not live in L.A. and still get quality work. That's what I'm aiming for."

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