Inside Andre Braugher's Relationship With Andy Samberg

The acting world was devastated when news broke that the versatile actor Andre Braugher, who made his name in the Civil War movie "Glory" and the acclaimed cop show "Homicide: Life on the Street," had died on December 11, 2023, at the age of 61. In the aftermath, countless colleagues took to social media to pay tribute to the actor's talent and his kindness which appears to have defined him as a presence on set.

But the role that he is arguably best known for to modern audiences is Captain Ray Holt, the stoic boss in the longrunning police comedy "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." The sitcom was the first of Braugher's distinguished career, and in many ways represented new ground for the veteran actor. When the show began in 2013, Holt was very much the foil to the lead character, Detective Jake Peralta, played by Andy Samberg. Peralta is an irresistibly childish goofball whose antics are often offset by Braugher's straight-talking and serious Holt, roughly reflecting the backgrounds of the two actors, with Samberg coming from an improvised comedy background and Braugher, having trained at Juilliard, respected for his dramatic roles. However, as the show went on it became evident that the two actors had begun to riff off each other.

The 2 hit it off on screen

Even before "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" became a hit, interviews from the early days of the promising new series reflected how the show's ensemble cast was already beginning to meld. For Andy Samberg, a big part of the show's breakout success was his character's on-screen relationship with Andre Braugher's Captain Holt. As Samburg himself noted in a preview of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" published in Entertainment Weekly, much of his comedy is based on the kind of goofing he would do as a child to annoy members of his family — if anything, resistance to laughter in those around Samburg makes him up the funny.

"It's easy to make lines funny when you're playing them to Andre," Samberg claimed back in 2013. "And the way that he's playing that character, which is really quite deadpan and grounded, makes me want to be more annoying. I feel like at best, I'm America's younger brother." Though Braugher, who was 16 years Samberg's senior, plays his boss on the show, the comedy dynamic between the two is arguably that between a younger and older sibling. As a consummate professional, Braugher would resist cracking a smile or breaking character, but Samberg claims that even in the early days he was occasionally able to get his co-star to mess up a take. "I have made him break a couple of times. It's been wildly satisfying," he added.

Not just the straight man

The image of Andy Samberg being the natural comic on set while Andre Braugher elevated the production with his professionalism shines through in a 2014 New York Times article, which discusses a scene in "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" in which Captain Holt is supposed to interrogate Detective Peralta in the "box," or interrogation room, over a prank he was planning to pull. One of Braugher's most famous roles, that of Frank Pembleton in "Homicide: Life on the Street," was often filmed in an interrogation room, and Braugher was expected to take the scene in his stride. But on the set of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" Braugher found that he had lost the knack of entering the room and closing the door in a commanding way. So Samberg entertained the crew with comedy material while Braugher found his rhythm.

Indeed, Braugher often described himself as the straight man in the show in interviews and suggested that he was a newcomer to comedy. However, as Samberg has noted, Braugher has worked in comedy before, notably in "Men of a Certain Age" alongside Ray Romano. "Andre is actually incredible because he has comedy timing and he's done comedy ... but he's also Julliard-trained" (via Entertainment Weekly). Samberg has also praised Braucher's improvisational abilities, which often made the crew crack up.

And the relationship between the two was also reportedly playful. At the start of the show, Braugher famously gifted Samberg a photo of Barry White and Elton John together, which he believed reflected their dynamic, per The New York Times. Numerous selfies of the pair that show their closeness have also appeared on various platforms such as Reddit over the years.