Played by Esai Morales: Rodriguez wasn't supposed to be in charge of the 15th squad, but after the detectives all neared mutiny over the ball-busting Lt. Dalto, Capt. Fancy called in one last favor for his old squad and had Dalto transfered out and Rodriguez transfered in. A former Narcotics cop from the Bronx who spent much of his career working deep undercover, Rodriguez is more hands-on than Fancy, and has a gentle sense of humor so deadpan that many people often don't get the joke. Though his tenure as 15th squad boss was mostly successful, Tony realized his career had hit a glass ceiling after a shooting incident involving disgraced IAB Capt. Fraker and decided to retire and make more money in private security.
Nearly 20 years after bursting onto the Hollywood scene as juvenile delinquent Paco Moreno in "Bad Boys," Esai Morales came over to the other side of fictional law-enforcement as Lt. Rodriguez on "NYPD Blue."
Born on October 1, 1962 in Brooklyn, Esai ran away from home as a teenager and briefly lived in a home for boys. (He and his mother have since reconciled.) He eventually found direction in acting and attended New York's High School for the Performing Arts (the school immortalized in the movie "Fame").
After some impressive New York stage performances, "Bad Boys" made a huge impression on audiences and Hollywood, but it also typecast Esai for years as, well, a bad boy. (See movies like "L.A. Bad" or his performance as Ritchie Valens' tortured brother in "La Bamba.") He has tried to shake up his image over the years by playing a variety of ethnicities, including an Iranian in the NBC miniseries "On Wings of Eagles" and an Irish bootlegger in "Bloodhounds of Broadway," but even in more prestigious projects like "My Family, Mi Familia," he inevitably played a troubled soul.
That dangerous persona appealed to the "NYPD Blue" producers when they were looking to replace James McDaniel's stoic Lt. Fancy with a different type of authority figure.
Esai landed the "Blue" job after he'd already committed to recurring roles on two other dramas: Showtime's "Resurrection Blvd." and PBS' "American Family." Since his role on "Blue" wasn't huge and the series were filmed on staggered schedules, he was able to do all three parts at once for a while.
After a few years, Esai realized the same thing James McDaniel had: the role of "Blue" squad boss isn't exceptionally rewarding in terms of screen time or acting challenges. So he asked out of his contract to pursue other jobs.
Esai likes to use his celebrity for pro-social causes -- he has referred to himself as an "actorvist" -- and is a founding member of the Earth Communications Office (ECO), a nonprofit organization made up of entertainers who promote environmental awareness.