Ex-LAPD Chief Daryl Gates Still Slaying 'Em at the Movies

When you're Daryl Gates, the former Los Angeles police chief during whose 14-year term both the SWAT team and the Rodney King fiasco entered the nation's consciousness, you might edge toward a lower public profile when you hit retirement. As Rachel Abramowitz notes today, however, law-enforcement was but a mere stepping stone to putting the likes of Keanu Reeves and his director in their places on film sets:

[H]is wiry, intense presence in David Ayer's Street Kings gives surprising credibility to this fantasy of police corruption. ... [I]t is something of a surprise to see the sinewy 81-year-old, who ran the Los Angeles Police Department from 1978 to 1992, playing L.A.'s police chief delivering a eulogy at a police funeral. At least the dead cop Gates praises happens to be the only honorable guy on the beat....
"The man's an icon, a living legend, especially among cops. He's a rock star, " says Ayer. "On the set, people would be shoving Keanu out of the way to get a picture of him." When Gates showed up for his scene, he asked Ayer if he could rejigger the lines and "take standard phraseology and turn it into LAPDese," says Ayer. "I was like, 'Yes, sir. Thanks.' "

We can vouch for those revisions, too — like the time Gates said more black suspects died from LAPD choke holds because "the veins or the arteries do not open as fast as they do on normal people"? Vintage LAPDese! Alas, the "wiry gravitas" likely honed over months of practice in front of cameras while talking down the King beating and subsequent riots and years of deflecting charges of racism in the police force was not a fresh enough breath of air to save Street Kings at the box office. We're hopeful, however, that the viewing public will come around to embrace Gates's patois in time for the surge of plum avenging cop roles to follow.