Dennis Haysbert has a very interesting character in the new series, Backstrom, starring former The Office star Rainn Wilson. Haysbert plays a very competent detective who also runs a church. This strange mixture makes the character very distinct.

Haysbert could also be a pirate, astronaut and weekend brain surgeon and yet he’d still evoke only one persona: President of the United States.

Curse you, 24.

Even worse, when he opens his mouth, all I want to do is check to see if I have enough car insurance.

Curse you, Allstate commercial.

Those distractions fade quickly and Haysbert helps pull me into the quirky crime series.

It’s no accident that Haysbert can play a preacher. “My father was Catholic. My mother’s Baptist. So I grew up in a very religious household.” He says every time he talks to his 95-year-old mother she asks if he’s reading his Bible.

It’s not just the religious background that helps Haysbert play the role. He’s been to Iraq and Afghanistan five times and that helps him to give each character he plays a military background. That works for every role from president to detective.

“My biggest challenge was to figure out how this cop, a detective sergeant, becomes a pastor as well. And to blend those two, he had to have some trauma in his life. He has to have had some incidents in his life that he’s not so proud of or he needs some absolution from,” Haysbert says. “He understands where Backstrom’s coming from, but not initially.

“Initially if I wasn’t a pastor, I’d probably shoot him in the knees.”

It’s all coming together to make his Backstrom role as interesting as his work in other TV projects. Thank you, Backstrom.

Backstrom airs every Tuesday at 9.10pm on Fox Crime HD (HyppTV Ch 610).