PASADENA, Calif. — It’s not just a coincidence that actor Daniel Sunjata is starring as the lead FBI agent in USA Network’s taut new series, “Graceland,” premiering June 6. It took a mountain of circumstances to land him on the show, which is based on real-life federal enforcers who lived undercover in a Southern California beach house.
It wasn’t exactly luck. In fact Sunjata — who spent seven years as the fiery Franco Rivera on “Rescue Me,” and co-starred in “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The Dark Knight Rises” — doesn’t believe in luck. What he believes in bears far more consequence than luck.
“I believe in a universe where even though we might not be able to comprehend the divine calculus behind it, I believe in a universe that makes sense on some level, even if we can’t quite fathom how and why,” he says, his long legs grazing the small, round table in front of him in the lounge of a hotel here. “So there has to be a reason — karma — I don’t know,” he shrugs.
All of his life Sunjata, 41, has been goaded by forces beyond his control, starting with his adoption when he was two months old by a loving couple who nurtured and supported him.
“The only memories I have are of the same two people who adopted me and raised me to adulthood,” he says. “I never met my biological parents. There was a time when I thought about (finding them). I think it’s because I didn’t have any incredibly traumatic experience as an adoptee — I was very, very fortunate in my experience with adoption.”
His adoptive mother suffered from a polio-like disease when she was a child and was confined to a wheelchair. But it didn’t prevent her from being the major breadwinner in the family and encouraging her son’s imagination. It was a confluence of circumstances that put Sunjata on the path to acting in the first place.