Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Interview: Abigail Spencer Heats Up True Detective

Abigail Spencer
Abigail Spencer has come a long way since her “All My Children” days: Since she left the show in 2000, Abigail has been in numerous TV shows and movies. These include “Angela’s Eyes,” “Mad Men,” “Hawthorne,” “Cowboys and Aliens,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “This Is Where I Leave You,” “Rectify” and, most recently, “True Detective.” I spoke with Abigail about “Rectify,” which comes back to SundanceTV for its third season July 9. But first we spoke about her new role, that of Alicia on season two of the critically acclaimed HBO drama “True Detective,” which premieres June 21.

Celebrity Extra: What can you tell me about the new season, and about your character, Alicia?

Abigail Spencer: Nothing (laughs). I can tell you my opinion of how wonderful it is. I don’t want to ruin anything, and I think if anyone were to give away anything about it, it would ruin the suspense. But I can tell you it was a really great experience. I think the season is going to be all the things that people loved about season one, and then some, with totally new and fresh stories. Nic Pizzolatto is just an incredible storyteller. And the acting is wonderful. Colin Farrell is so amazing. People are just going to be blown away, particularly by his performance on the show.

CE: Do you work mainly with Colin, and will we get to see you for the whole eight-episode season?

AS: I work with almost everybody, but I work mostly with Colin. I’m there throughout the season — heck, I probably shouldn’t say anything — but I am in it throughout the season.

CE: What can you tell me about the actual filming experience?

AS: When you have a really rich character, one who has a lot of depth, you really are just trying to bring all of that depth to the character that is on the page. It was hard. I was also shooting “Rectify” at the same time, so I was going back and forth between characters. Everyone was so great. Nic really supported me and really welcomed me into the fold of telling the story, so I really wanted to do it justice. It was incredibly intense but very fulfilling.

CE: I see Rick Springfield has a guest-starring role. Did you work with him?

AS: I didn’t, but I know of him being on the show, and I thought that was super cool. Junie Lowry-Johnson and Libby Goldstein cast “True Detective,” and they also cast “Rectify.” They are two of the most phenomenal casting directors ever. They love actors. They really hire great actors for every piece. A lot of the credit has to go to Junie and Libby for who they put forward for all the roles.

CE: Is it difficult being on a show where everything is so hush-hush, and you can’t slip up and give away any secrets?

AS: It’s so interesting — I’m pretty used to this from when I was cast for “Mad Men.” I couldn’t tell anyone I was on the show. I wasn’t allowed to walk the red carpet at the premiere or anything. But then after the fact, it’s fun. It’s fun to let people discover your work. That was a really beautiful experience for me. You do get these dream jobs where they’re like, “But you can’t tell anybody about it.” And you’re like, “What? Huh?” But really, I’m very OK with that. It’s cool that people just discover it. People will find shows or will find good work. Hopefully it’s through word of mouth and wonderful people like you spreading the word.

CE: For those unfamiliar with the show, tell me a bit about “Rectify.”

AS: “Rectify” is a story about a man, Daniel, who has been on death row for almost 20 years. The show picks up on the day he is released from prison because some new DNA evidence was brought into the fold showing that he most likely did not commit the crime. But the main issue is that it doesn’t totally clear him, but it’s most likely he didn’t do it. It’s his reintegration back into his family and the society that put him away, and back into the arms of his adoring co-dependent sister, Amantha, who has basically been in charge of his release. The show focuses on how intimately and emotionally it affects all of the people surrounding this one event and this one human by the name of Daniel.

CE: Tell me about Amantha.

AS: I would say that Amantha is a bit of the engine of the show. She’s moving things forward. She was the catalyst for his release. As we explore Amantha, we see that she is a very active character. What do you do when the active character is met with resistance from the one thing that she wanted? Her brother gets out of prison, and he’s like: “No thanks. I’m good. I don’t want to fight this anymore.” He’s had a life-changing experience. It really puts Amantha in a position where she has to start looking at herself and what her life is like. What is her life about? She has to make some hard decisions.

CE: Where do we pick up for the start of season three?

AS: We’re going to start right where we left off with season two. We left off with Daniel having this strange confession, or re-confession, of the time that he’s not even sure of, or what he did. When it comes to Amantha, she didn’t just want to get him out of prison, but she also wanted to clear his name. She wanted to go all the way with it. When Daniel says, “I just want it to be done,” that’s heartbreaking for her.

So she draws a boundary, like if you do this, I’m not going to be there. I’m going to go put my own life together. So we left with that really strong boundary, and we pick up after Daniel’s “re-confession” surprise for everybody. It’s different now. There will be more clues, and more people come into play. It’s really interesting. I’m always like: “How do we go deeper? We just went there. We went so deep.” And then season three happens, and you go: “We just did it. We just went deeper.” I’m always amazed. I’m amazed with the actors and writers and how they get right in there illustrating the complexity of human beings’ lives and celebrating it. The show is really about celebrating life — it’s about living your life and understanding who you are.

CE: You shoot this on location in Griffin, Georgia. What’s it like on set?

AS: Everybody is so supportive of us shooting there. It’s a very small town, and it is thick with the issues at play on the show. At times it can be difficult to shoot there just because there are certain needs when you are shooting a show. It’s like you live in your own world in your own town. It’s like you’re living in Oz all the time when you’re shooting something, and you have your own set of needs when you are working. So there are challenges there. But at the same time, it definitely puts you in the mood. Once we get off the plane and drive that hour south, it’s like: “Here we are. We’re back in ‘Rectify’ land.”

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