Ali Larter on ‘Legends’, Her Character, and Sean Bean

Ali Larter Legends Interview
Morris Chestnut, Sean Bean and Ali Larter in ‘Legends’ (Photo by Marco Grob/TNT)

TNT’s Legends is based on the novel by Robert Littell and stars Sean Bean (who the executive producers promise not to kill off), Ali Larter, Morris Chestnut, and Tina Majorino. The dramatic series focuses on Deep Cover Operations Undercover FBI agent, Martin Odum (Bean), who transforms himself into a completely different person for each undercover investigation he embarks on. Larter also plays an FBI operative and at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con, she talked about why she wanted to be a part of Legends and what we can expect from her character, Crystal Quest, this season.

Ali Larter Legends Interview

What drew you in and made you want to be a part of Legends?

Ali Larter: “One of the things I was really attracted to was the emotional toll that the work takes on these characters. Of course when you’re telling a story like this, you have to move the story along and you have to make sure that all of that works in the mythology of it. What’s interesting to me is where they break. Especially when you’re in such a high pressure job, finding those places where it just kind of picks away at your skin and what you do to deal with the stress. So there’s some interesting ways that Crystal deals with that.

It was also really important to me that I held onto her emotional side and femininity. I think a lot of the time with female characters, especially in these high powered jobs, they have to cut that off. I really felt like with Crystal, no matter what had happened the night before, when she woke up in the morning, she took a shower, she did her hair, she put on her lipstick. It was part of the ritual of keeping life normal for her and how she held it together. So that was something that I kept throughout. But, yeah, it’s interesting when you see just different shades of ways that it really affects these characters.”

Was it a tough decision to commit to a TV series?

Ali Larter: “I mean, I couldn’t be more excited about this schedule. It’s 10 weeks. You know, from being on Heroes where we’re doing 24 episodes, I think it’s really difficult to keep the stories up to the level that is riveting, that the audience deserves. When you take something like this, there’s really a chance to keep it tight where the writers can get really specific and layer things in. So that’s something I was excited about.

I also think that for the actors, especially Sean [Bean] but anyone who’s taking on these different legends, you can’t do that for 10 months a year. You would lose your mind. We’re shooting 14 hours a day. Just the pressures of it and the amount of work, you’re not sitting on the sidelines of these shows. You’re always on. So when you know there’s a finish line, it gives a chance to really give it your fastest and your strongest effort where I think that when it stretches out, there’s a chance for people to get overwhelmed.”

Do you and Sean Bean’s character Martin have a past history on the show?

Ali Larter: “Do we have past history? Have we made love? Yet to be known… I know, but it’s a fun relationship and when you take people that are very different in the way that they approach life, you’re going to get friction. Crystal likes to follow the rules and Martin goes by instinct. For me, it’s just been so thrilling to work with Sean Bean. He’s just an extraordinary actor. To put him in a role like this is like gold. So to watch him each day create these different personas that he takes on through the hair, through the glasses, through the body language has been really interesting.”

Do we see Crystal take on undercover roles?

Ali Larter: “Yes, she goes undercover but she more kind of ties it all together. She doesn’t have legends that she’s been living for a year. They will probably peek out later on. It was really important for this first season…our showrunners changed and David Wilcox came on about a month before we started shooting, so he was in this and Josh Pate who also wrote a lot of the episodes has been a fantastic writer, they were just on. They were running on instinct. They were writing these incredibly intricate, woven stories which are so amazing to see. But what I hope is that when we go into another season, I’m going to be handed the scripts and have a better idea of the things that I can weave in rather than getting the scripts sometimes an hour before.”

Will the various legends give the show a chance to reinvent itself?

Ali Larter: “Absolutely. I don’t want to speak for Sean but I think that was his draw to the show was the chance to get to play all these different characters. It really keeps you on your toes. For me, one of the exciting things is that I’m a mom. I have a three and a half year old little boy. I cook dinner three nights a week. I’m still doing the dishes. I have that life, and then when I go to work, I get to play this woman who’s chosen her career above all else. She wants to help people, she wants to work for her government. She works for her country and she’s willing to put her life in danger in order to save others. And that to me is a very thrilling, empowering role because my life isn’t mine anymore now that I’m a mom. I have to make different choices now so it’s fun to play a character that has chosen her work over all else.”

What kind of journey is she on this season?

Ali Larter: “One of the things I feel like you have to do as an actor is that as much as one of the goals of this show is to get into that emotional underbelly, is that you have to keep asking the writers to write the backstory. You have to keep asking them to fill in those relationships because so much of the time is spent with the showrunners and the studio making sure that the story works. ‘Make sure the story works, make sure the story works.’ I feel like my work as an actor is to continue to inspire them and encourage them to write those interesting relationships, what happens to them when they’re alone, how they break. So we bring in the relationship with my father towards the end of the season and I was really excited about that because just even being in the same room with him shifts. You feel different, so I think it’s interesting to see Crystal revert a little bit. That’s kind of a crack in her veneer. And then you also see how she’s someone who really believes in following the rules. Her father’s in the Navy, she believes in that. As it goes on, she’s really realized that the inner workings of the government, large corporations, that there’s so much sneaking that she may have to bend some of her morals to be able to get to the truth.”

Do you see a little bit of Niki from Heroes in her?

Ali Larter: “She’s not that vulnerable. Niki was so vulnerable. She was so broken, so much more innocent in a way. Crystal’s not that innocent. She’s seen it and she’s done it. She’s much rougher around the edges but, again, holding onto her femininity was really important to me. I didn’t want to just be in a black suit with my hair in a pony tail every day with no makeup on. That, to me, is just not the character that I want to watch. I want to watch the woman that gets herself out there and then finds her peace and her relief through holding onto that.”

Who on the team does she love working with, and who is the craziest on the team?

Ali Larter: “Right, well definitely Martin. That’s where the conflict lies because she’s always cleaning up his messes. He does what he thinks he has to do, but by doing that people get hurt and that’s just not acceptable to her ever. Steve Harris is incredible on the show. He brings such a gravitas and he’s Crystal’s boss. So to really see him and she respects him but she also really feels it with Martin. She’s not sure that he’s all there, that the toll of the work hasn’t really impacted his ability to make rational decisions. She just doesn’t feel she should be in the field at all times.”

-By Rebecca Murray

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