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Jesse L. Martin on his exit from 'Law & Order'

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EW.com originally reached out to Jesse L. Martin to get his memories of starring in Rent

for an upcoming feature we’re doing on the musical. But after “>today’s announcement that

he’ll be leaving Law & Order after nine years as Detective Ed Green, we took the opportunity to ask him about his decision to

give up the steadiest meal ticket on TV.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, what? Nine years is enough?
JESSE L. MARTIN: [Laughs] Actually, yeah.

Are there any blocks in New York City that you have not filmed on at

this point?
I don’t think so. I don’t even know, but I don’t think so.

We’ve literally been everywhere. I mean, everywhere.

So you’re happy

about this decision.
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m definitely happy about it.

It was pretty much time for me. I need to get back on stage before I get too

scared to do it again. And with that schedule, it would be really difficult for

me to ever really get to do anything like that.

More after the jump.

Do you have a project in

mind?

Not particularly, no. At least not any project that I can sort of

announce publicly. But the whole idea is just to get back into that. Because I’m

an actor. I wanna stay an actor. Not that you can’t do that on TV, but I wanna

get on stage.

Have people been calling and trying to talk to you about

this all day?

They have. I actually didn’t know they

were going to announce it, because I wasn’t really supposed to talk about it, I

guess. And then there it was in the paper, and I was like, “Oh. I guess that’s

gonna happen.”

How long have you known?

Not long at all. I honestly couldn’t leave, according to my

contract. I could have said, “Hey, I’m ready to go,” but they could have easily

said no. But Dick [Wolf, L&O‘s creator] has always been really cool about that sort of thing. He always

says if an actor is ready to leave, is ready to go, that he’ll allow them to go.

And they were pretty cool with it. I’m really glad. I

had a great time there. I feel like I went to actor boot camp and I’m coming

out a colonel.

Are we going to learn in that last episode that Ed was

secretly a lesbian the whole time?

[Laughs] Oh god. I hope not. I don’t

want to end it like that. Give me something crazy to do! Well, not that crazy. But

who knows? I don’t even know how it’s gonna end, that’s the other thing. I have

no idea how it’s gonna end.

You don’t have an ideal situation? “I wanna

go out in a blaze of glory like this”?

You mean Set It Off

style? No. I don’t wanna die, to be honest. I really don’t. I don’t wanna die. I

like the possibility of maybe returning for some reason. It’d be nice to have,

like, a mysterious exit. But of course, none of this is up to me. They can end

it the way they see fit.

You might have earned some say in it.

I don’t know. I mean, I’m sure they’ll listen to me, but ultimately,

it’s their show. They can make it do what it wants to do. I just hope it’s a

cool exit. I really do.

Do you L&O guys and the people who

have been on ER since time began have some kind of support

group?

[Laughs] No, but that’s a damn good idea. Maybe George Clooney

can run something like that.

And up next you’re playing Marvin Gaye in the biopic Sexual Healing.

When do you start shooting that?

We’re hoping in April. Springtime.

That’s what I’m being told at this point.

What are you doing to prep

yourself for that?

A whole lot of stuff, actually. Getting my voice back

in shape. If you don’t sing all the time, it sort of dims a little bit.

Have you been a fan for years and years?

Like, a crazy fan. Who

isn’t a fan of that guy?

Favorite song?

“Piece of

Clay.”

Is there a new spin you think can bring to the

biopic genre at this point?

I certainly hope so. And even if it’s not a

new spin, I hope it’s a good spin. It’s hard to even speculate what the reaction

could be, because we haven’t even gone into production. But the hope is to do

supreme justice to the man himself.

Do you have a project inmind?
Not particularly, no. At least not any project that I can sort ofannounce publicly. But the whole idea is just to get back into that. Because I’man actor. I wanna stay an actor. Not that you can’t do that on TV, but I wannaget on stage.

Have people been calling and trying to talk to you aboutthis all day?
They have. I actually didn’t know theywere going to announce it, because I wasn’t really supposed to talk about it, Iguess. And then there it was in the paper, and I was like, “Oh. I guess that’sgonna happen.”

How long have you known?
Not long at all. I honestly couldn’t leave, according to mycontract. I could have said, “Hey, I’m ready to go,” but they could have easilysaid no. But Dick [Wolf, L&O‘s creator] has always been really cool about that sort of thing. He alwayssays if an actor is ready to leave, is ready to go, that he’ll allow them to go.And they were pretty cool with it. I’m really glad. Ihad a great time there. I feel like I went to actor boot camp and I’m comingout a colonel.

Are we going to learn in that last episode that Ed wassecretly a lesbian the whole time?
[Laughs] Oh god. I hope not. I don’twant to end it like that. Give me something crazy to do! Well, not that crazy. Butwho knows? I don’t even know how it’s gonna end, that’s the other thing. I haveno idea how it’s gonna end.

You don’t have an ideal situation? “I wannago out in a blaze of glory like this”?
You mean Set It Offstyle? No. I don’t wanna die, to be honest. I really don’t. I don’t wanna die. Ilike the possibility of maybe returning for some reason. It’d be nice to have,like, a mysterious exit. But of course, none of this is up to me. They can endit the way they see fit.

You might have earned some say in it.
I don’t know. I mean, I’m sure they’ll listen to me, but ultimately,it’s their show. They can make it do what it wants to do. I just hope it’s acool exit. I really do.

Do you L&O guys and the people whohave been on ER since time began have some kind of supportgroup?
[Laughs] No, but that’s a damn good idea. Maybe George Clooneycan run something like that.

And up next you’re playing Marvin Gaye in the biopic Sexual Healing.When do you start shooting that?
We’re hoping in April. Springtime.That’s what I’m being told at this point.

What are you doing to prepyourself for that?
A whole lot of stuff, actually. Getting my voice backin shape. If you don’t sing all the time, it sort of dims a little bit.

Have you been a fan for years and years?
Like, a crazy fan. Whoisn’t a fan of that guy?

Favorite song?
“Piece ofClay.”

Is there a new spin you think can bring to thebiopic genre at this point?
I certainly hope so. And even if it’s not anew spin, I hope it’s a good spin. It’s hard to even speculate what the reactioncould be, because we haven’t even gone into production. But the hope is to dosupreme justice to the man himself.

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