Tacoma FD, from Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme (the creators of Super Troopers), is a really funny series and must-see television. Shining brightly on the show is Hassie Harrison, who lights up the screen as Lucy McConky, the daughter of Heffernan’s Chief Terry McConky, having joined the team as a probationary firefighter (affectionately given the nickname “Probie”). In addition, (as we learned only the day before our phone interview with Harrison) she will be appearing in the third season of the series Yellowstone, from Taylor Sheridan. She was also featured on the initial Tacoma FD aftershow, Talkoma FD, hosted by Lemme and Heffernan. Between season 3 of Yellowstone and season 2 of Tacoma FD, we’ll be seeing and hearing a lot from Harrison very soon.
When we spoke to the refreshingly positive Hassie Harrison by phone from Texas, she was hit pretty hard by the passing of music legend Bill Withers and had shared a video of her crying to the singer earlier in the day. We told the ray of sunshine that although I am a new friend, that Harrison was free to Lean on Me, and she responded with a hearty laugh and was beyond awesome in our interview.
The following is a condensed and edited version of our phone interview with the incredibly talented Hassie Harrison.
BT: Tell me about being the first guest on Talkoma FD and what’s it like to have an after show?
HH: I feel like it was such a great idea and I know it was something Kev(in Heffernan) and Steve (Lemme), my showrunners, producers, all the things, it was something that they had pitched last year and I think that there’s just such an appetite for it, especially with comedy. There’s so many great anecdotal remarks and so much commentary for each scene and how much fun we had making it, so yeah, it was really great. I was honoured to be their first guest and they’re so sweet to me, they really treat me like…I know, everybody says it, but we’re like a family when we’re together. I think that sometimes Kev and Steve forget that I’m not their daughter / niece. [chuckles] And like I said, it’s like I have a bunch of older brothers too, out of my co-stars, and they look out for me and razz me, just like any good family.
BT: It’s wonderful that the support system is there, especially, as this is not secret: you were a recast of your character. What was that like for you and how did you find that click with everyone on set?
HH: It’s always a high-pressure or more nerve-racking to be a recast and to make sure that you’re worthy of that recast. [laughs] And especially that most of these guys were comedic legends and being able to rise to the occasion. But I knew that I’d earned that role because I jumped through hoops, I think that I went to four auditions and chemistry reads with all the guys, and they told me: “You were the only choice” and out of quite a few people, I think that they cast a wider net, too. But yeah, by the time that I had got to that set, I felt like I had already proved my worth and value in being there. And then I think, inside joke stuff, there was a tiny bit of catch up, and now I’m simply part of a team. I think that shows on screen and off screen.
We do a DM session, all of my co-stars and me, after the two episodes that have aired so far and we really genuinely like each other. I think that’s something that Kevin and Steve put a lot of value on, even in that casting process I did, they said: “Make sure that she’s okay to stick around and chat for a while because we want to get to know her”. So much of their comedy and brand is about someone who can shoot the shit and hang and someone with whom you’d enjoy spending time on set. I feel like I am one of the guys in many ways and I think that’s reflected in my personal life as well, I’ve got a lot of girlfriends, but I also have a few different cliques of dudes in which I hang out. Part of that is being from Texas and growing up around a lot of cowboys and stuff and so I feel very comfortable with men, and these guys make me feel safe. I feel that one of the things that Kevin and Steve said is that much of comedy is being weird and letting yourself go big, and they’re always like: “We’re going to protect you in the editing room”. And I’m always absorbing as a sponge information from them – I’m always looking up to them as comedians, they are excellent in their field and they certainly put in their 10,000 hours! When they give me a suggestion or when I read each script, I know that they know what they’re doing! [laughs]
BT: The series is really hilarious. How much room is there to build on what is written in the scripts and how much do the episodes transform from page to finished product?
HH: Well the scripts are amazing. Especially season 2, I mean, there’s so many jokes on a page that we need to hit and the guys still give us so much room to let us improv and have these awesome moments. And of course it feels great when they include that, but so much of where we are limited is due to time constraints. Kev and Steve are so sweet, I get to go in there and I watch them edit, I watch them do the whole process, I’m kind of absorbing as a creator of film and tv, I watch them direct and they’re very cool about letting me in on that world and teaching me what they know. It’s amazing. They let us do a lot of improv and we get to use some of it, and more than anything, we just have so much fun shooting this show. All the guys are just hilarious and so much of it really is a practice in not breaking. [laughs] There’s so much at which you want to laugh and some are better at holding face than others. [giggles]
BT: In this show, what makes you want to break and fall over laughing?
HH: I don’t break as much when I’m doing something, when I’m speaking, it’s more watching the other characters. Eugene Cordero, there’s something about him that makes me laugh so hard. And sometimes, we have to say, if the coverage isn’t on us, if it’s a close-up, we’ll just turn around, so they don’t have to see us break, [laughing] sometimes we have to do that. But yeah, I think that Kevin is hilarious and him and I, our scenes as a father-daughter duo, they’re such a delight, he’s such a delight and they’re so much fun. I have a very good dynamic with him, that’s also a lot of fun.
BT: You’re featured prominently on the first episode and this season is a lot about your character. What have you enjoyed about that and what’s something that we should anticipate coming up?
HH: It’s really cool because you can tell that these guys know me now. Before this, season 1 was kind of written with someone else in mind and these guys, we spend a lot of time together, we hang out socially and they know me and my quirks and write to my personality a little bit more, which is fun. I love episode one, in which Lucy has a gambling addiction, I think that’s great. I’m always scared, I don’t want to give something away, but Lucy gets injured on the job in an upcoming episode and the consequences of that are hilarious. I do reinvent the uniform for myself, [laughs], but I know personally the writers’ room, I know the writers, so it’s really cool having stuff written and tailored toward me.
BT: How do you find the time to be in two shows (and two movies), especially with the recent announcement that you’re going to be featured on season 3 of Yellowstone?
HH: Well scheduling is a constant battle. [laughs] I’m so blessed to have these opportunities coming my way. And it also feels good, I’ve been working at this gig for a long time and it feels like people are finally picking up what I’m putting down, and I’m so appreciative and humbled by knowing how much work goes into it. Sometimes I think that my Mom thinks that I just get my hair and make-up done and walk down red carpets and get to joke around all day, but much of that 30 minute episode you’re seeing is 14 hour days on set and sometimes it’s hard with comedy, you really build the energy up. It’s so much fun with Yellowstone, too, to get to play such a different character and be in a different genre. I feel like I’ve got more blessings than I can say grace over right now, getting to be a part of two shows which I’m super proud to be a part of.
BT: What’s something for which you are very proud to have done on screen?
HH: I’m very proud of Tacoma. I think I really hold my own with grown-ass men, [chuckles] you know what I mean? It’s something which I’m proud of because I don’t think that it’s an easy thing for a lot of young girls to be able to go in there and kind of hold they’re own against these guys and I’m proud of my ability to do that. I feel so much funnier than I was even two years ago. I think that comedy is definitely the most exacting and difficult genre, there’s so much of it that has to do with timing and it’s so specific, so I’m really proud of that.
BT: What’s something that you would like to do on screen that you haven’t yet had a chance to do?
HH: I really like sci-fi and I hope that I will get to play a role in a sci-fi world one day. I guess that’s keeping it pretty general, but I like complete alternate universes, I feel like that’s such an easy way to escape.
BT: Hassie Harrison sounds like it could be the name of an alter ego of a superhero. In your superhero guise, what would be your superpower?
HH: Oh, I love that! I’m named after my great uncle and everyone thinks that I actually came up with my name, that it’s actually like a made-up name and I love the alliteration of my name, it rolls off the tongue. My superpower is that I’m a Warrior of Love and I have such a…I don’t want to say a bleeding heart, but in some ways, I’m a bit of an open wound, like I’ve been able to keep a softness with a thick skin, and that’s something of which I’m really proud. And my kindness, I’m very proud of that, I’m not a mean person. [laughs] But if it’s a technical superhero trait, it’s the “luck” power of Domino from Marvel Comics. Zazie Beetz plays her in Deadpool 2 and it’s so much fun because you never know what’s going to happen, but it’s always that luck is on her side. Maybe that’s a love-based way to move through the world, too, is to be lucky and have things go your way. [laughs]
BT: Have you actually been to Tacoma?
HH: I hate saying this, but I have not yet been to Tacoma. It was actually something that I was planning on doing, I had plans to go up there. Given the current situation, I have not gone there yet, but it is very much on my radar to go to Tacoma. I love the Pacific Northwest in general, I think it’s such a beautiful place.
BT: What do you most enjoy about coming from Dallas?
HH: I spent a lot of time on ranches growing up and spending time out in the country and I’m really proud of the connection to nature that I have and my understanding of animals and horses and cattle. It’s truly Texas culture in a sense, and I like the way that a lot of Texans move through the world. They’re very kind and hospitable people and I think like most people who live in big cities, the hardest thing is always being away from your family and friends. I miss my family! I’m in Texas right now, I spend a lot of time here, and I spend most of my time in Austin and West Texas. I did a road trip all over Texas, I drove out to Marfa, which is one of my favourite places, I drove through Big Bend, and Texas is huge. I was thinking that I’ve got to do my due diligence and make sure that I’ve really crossed the terrain. There are so many different cultures, even within Texas, which I find really interesting and cool, there’s so much diversity here. You’ve gotta go to Texas, such great food and truly the people…I was spending half my quarantine in L.A. and then my other half here and you walk by and everyone’s kind of waving at each other and there’s a feeling of camaraderie. We’re all in this together and keeping their safe distance, but it’s amazing what just a smile can do right now.
BT: What are your tips for self-isolating in terms of binge-watching but also in general?
HH: You know, right now I find myself leaning into comedy more, in terms of watching comedies. I think that what better time to try to find some laughs in such heavy times? I think it’s good medicine. The biggest compliments are in the social media outreach – that puts the biggest smile on my face, or we get a lot of real firefighters who truly like the show and a lot of female firefighters hit me up and express their gratitude for representing.
In terms of self-isolating, I think that people have to do what’s right for them. I don’t think that there should be a pressure to be productive or to learn a new skill. I will say that I’m also proud, because I look at what’s going on right now and people are really turning to artists and appreciating the different art forms and that just fills my heart, you know? It reconnects me to humanity and what’s important. I think that whatever gets people through this time and keeps them self-isolated and home, that’s what’s most important. If you want to cook, if you want to lay around and barely leave bed, I mean it’s whatever works for you. People are going through different versions of this and whatever keeps your chin high and puts a smile on your face, I think that’s what people should be doing.
BT: What are some of your streaming recommendations?
HH: I’m a diehard fan of the American The Office. I would tell people to watch that and then watch Tacoma, and watch Yellowstone. [laughs] What better time to escape into a modern Western show? And they’ll be seeing me in season 3, so yeah, those are self-serving, [laughs] but the show that keeps on giving is the American The Office. That makes me laugh forever.
BT: Which of your associated fanbases do you think is the most passionate?
HH: What’s so cool now is that the people who are following Hassie Harrison and trying to see what I’m up to, and that’s so flattering and fun – people going and checking out my stuff. I would say now, for sure, the viewers of Tacoma are the sweetest to me on social media, I get a lot of love for that. And I’m excited for Yellowstone, that show is so cool and it was a show which I was a fan of before booking it, being Texan and a little Western myself, that character’s not a far reach for me.
Well, don’t say that, actually because there’s some things about that character that… [laughs] I don’t want to say that about, but in terms of feeling comfortable on a horse and growing up around cowboys, I have an innate understanding of that culture.
BT: What organizations are near and dear to you if people would like to donate?
HH: No Kid Hungry is obviously one which I am very passionate about supporting. Another organization I love is Best Buddies and I think that the stuff that they’re doing is super important. Also, whatever you can do to donate supplies to people in need.
Tacoma FD season two premieres tonight at 10:30 E/P on CTV Comedy. Season two continues tonight with episode three airing on truTV at 10/9c.