Welcome to Start TV’s Investigation Week, where the re-START of Cold Case could only be made better by diving into the stories of real-life investigators on My Start Story. Our original series is going behind the scenes with the stars of Cold Case as they share their own Start Stories.
My Start Story is also celebrating real women behind real investigations. FBI Special Agent Siobhan Johnson talks about using her skills to investigate counterterrorism across the world. Kristen Ziman, Chief of Police in Aurora, IL was responsible for her city’s response to 2018’s mass shooting. Tara Poremba, expert marksman and Canine Handler and Trainer, uses her training skills with both her human and her canine trainees. For Jacquie Purcell, Coroner for Kendall County, IL, work starts with investigation and ends with closure.
The actresses behind Detectives Lilly Rush and Kat Miller made sure that women like our My Start Story investigators are properly represented in Cold Case. Through in-depth research and strong personal connections to the personalities and experiences of these roles, this duo makes it easy to understand why so many people love Cold Case.
From the beginning, Kathryn Morris started by reading as much material as she could to learn about the process of investigation. Morris praised show creator Meredith Stiehm for the script’s depth; she immediately began to absorb the role and fill in the gaps that can’t be explained in lines or writing.
During her interview with Start TV, Morris said, “Meredith had written an excellent script and I thought, ‘What am I going to add between the lines that is unspoken, that is the emotional river underneath that will make this character watchable for a decade.’”
Morris got exactly what she was looking for from real-life investigator Detective Tim Bass of the Philadelphia Police Department. Bass’s professional experiences were the basis of the show, and there was no one better to give insight into the character of Detective Rush. The conversations with Detective Bass helped Morris deepen her understanding of the psychology of an investigator. With the many demands that come with the job, Morris had to reset her own understanding of the role.
In her Start TV interview, Morris recalls, “I just thought, ‘What is it? Why do you have to do this work?’ …It was a conversation that we had for seven years… And then I tried to fill in the gaps with my own imagination.” Detective Bass continued to provide insight and personal anecdotes for Morris to contextualize throughout her time on set. The two became good friends, a bond that continued after the show’s final season.
In 2003 Cold Case writers brought another strong female presence to the office; Detective Kat Miller, played by Tracie Thoms.
“When I got Cold Case, it was a recurring role to be in four episodes, with the possibility of becoming a series regular,” Thoms told Start TV. “[I said], ‘Sure, I'll do it. Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't.’ After my fourth episode, [the producers said], ‘Yes, we're going to keep you on.’ And I'm moving to LA, starting this journey, on this show for four and a half years. And it was just thrilling to be a part of something that was such a hit.”
Thoms hit the ground running, playing a character with plenty of depth and personality. Thoms fondly recalled, “She was really fun cause I show up and I’m this young whippersnapper, but I'm ambitious…There's, like, cool stuff [to play with].” In addition to offering an exciting and new acting challenge, Detective Miller also offered an opportunity for activism. As a woman of color in a position of authority, Thoms was passionate about the representation that the character gave to other members of minority groups who were watching.
“I loved her. [She] fit right into my own sense of justice. I'm very much a social justice advocate... I’d never played a cop before, but I was surprised at how quickly it kind of came to me… It felt good. It felt right.”
To continue your own investigation into inspiring stories, watch the My Start Story with Zeita Merchant, Commanding Officer of US Coast Guard, Marine Safety Unit Chicago. Browse even more incredible stories of heroism, bravery and courage on our My Start Story page.
You can also submit the stories of the heroes in your world by clicking here. We’d love to know who inspires you! As Detective Rush says, “People shouldn’t be forgotten. They matter.”
Tune in on July 29 to catch Cold Case from the very beginning to see Morris and Thoms in action.
EVERY DAY AT 3 PM EASTERN