‘Nash Bridges’: Don Johnson & Cheech Marin on Revisiting San Fran’s Coolest Cop Partners

Cheech Marin as Joe Dominguez, Don Johnson as Nash Bridges
David Moir/USA Network

If not for Don Johnson’s gray goatee, this could be 1996 all over again. The dogged Nash Bridges hurtles down San Francisco’s hilly streets chasing a bad guy in his signature yellow ’Cuda convertible. His longtime partner in the Special Investigations Unit, Joe Dominguez (Cheech Marin), holds on for dear life. The familiar scene opens a new USA movie, with the potential to reboot the lighthearted CBS cop show 20 years after the series ended.

“We got in the ’Cuda, and it felt like we had never left,” Johnson says. Marin agrees: “It felt like old times.”

In 2021, Nash Bridges is a bit nostalgic for USA, once the home of blue-sky dramedies like Psych and Royal Pains. But Johnson, who has recently done fare both dark (HBO’s Watchmen) and light (NBC’s Kenan), is betting that viewers will turn out. “I thought, especially during this time, it can bring some joy and action,” he says. “‘Comfort food’: That’s how I’m referring to myself these days.”

Following the fast-paced opening—replete with a gunfight, an explosion and banter—the movie jumps ahead a year. Suspended after the collateral damage of that pursuit, Nash is a part-time bounty hunter still obsessed with nailing the rich sex trafficker who walked, while Joe owns (surprise!) a legal marijuana dispensary.

Cheech Marin as Joe Dominguez, Jeff Perry as Harvey Leek, Joe Dinicol as Steve Colton in Nash Bridges

David Moir/USA Network

When bodies start piling up, stumping the homicide department, Capt. Lena Harris (Diarra Kilpatrick) invites Nash back to the SIU with a warning: “Cowboy cop days are over.” Just don’t call him a dinosaur, as his by-the-book millennial supervisor, Steven Colton (Joe Dinicol), does before a fistfight. (Johnson, 71, keeps fit with yoga.) Nash and Joe play more nicely with the team’s young guns, Ellie Tang (Angela Ko) and Keith “Philly” Morton (Paul James), and IT chief Chloe Zane (Alexia Garcia). Nash also flirts with shrink Christina Hunter (Bonnie Somerville).

“We’ve managed to bring the fun and chemistry that the original had,” says Johnson. Fans will also recognize Jeff Perry, back as tech-savvy eccentric Harvey Leek, now a paranoid conspiracy theorist and handy when cyberwarfare and nanotechnology enter the movie’s plot.

Should the series get the go-ahead, Johnson has a storyline ready for Nash’s daughter, Cassidy (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe), now in military intelligence. “Father and daughter don’t know that they are pursuing the same person—and they run into each other!” We’re in, Bubba.

Nash Bridges, Movie Premiere, Saturday, November 27, 9/8c, USA