During the Television Critics Association winter press event I had the chance to briefly chat with Felicity Huffman about her new TV series, American Crime. The ABC series comes from Oscar winning screenwriter John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) and will premiere on March 5, 2015 at 10pm ET/PT.
The Plot: “Following the home invasion murder of Matt Skokie – a war vet – and an assault on his wife Gwen, four suspects are brought into custody: Tony Gutiérrez, an impressionable teen who got in way over his head even under the watchful eye of his dedicated and hard-working father, Alonzo Gutiérrez. Hector Tontz, a young man who has lived life on the fringes of society and has made bad decisions just to survive. Carter Nix and Aubry Taylor, two incredibly lost souls whose addiction to drugs and to one another has become destructive and paralyzing.
Though the suspects fit a profile, they and their situations are far more complicated than anyone would have initially believed… As is true for the victims themselves. As Russ and Barb Skokie – divorced and estranged – arrive to both bury their son Matt, and seek a measure of justice for his killing, they discover their son may have been far from an innocent bystander in his own murder.
Told from the points of view of all those involved, this new drama examines preconceptions on faith, family, gender, race, class and other aspects of our social experience with an approach and perspectives historically underserved in media.”
Felicity Huffman Interview:
This is definitely darker than Desperate Housewives. Were you looking for something darker?
Felicity Huffman: “Yes, I was looking for something different. I think it’s hard for the audience when they’ve lived with a character for eight years to then soon suddenly see them in a completely different venue. All you do is go, ‘Oh, there’s Lynette being a nurse.’ Or, ‘There’s Lynette being a policewoman.’ So I was looking for something very, very different.”
What was the initial appeal of American Crime?
Felicity Huffman: “What appealed to me is the writing. It always starts with the script.”
Is it hard for you to read something like this and want to do it, knowing that you’re going to be so emotional throughout the series?
Felicity Huffman: “Yes, when the stakes are higher it can be more difficult. This took…I had to wake up in that particular character, in that particular place and stay there the whole time. I did. Yes, it’s challenging. It was a dark place to live in.”
How was it to have your kids visit when you had to continuously go to such a dark place?
Felicity Huffman: “It was hard. I needed to stay in that dark place so thankfully when they came I wasn’t working for those days. Because otherwise I’m not a lot of fun, I have to say.”
Can you talk about working with Timothy Hutton?
Felicity Huffman: “I loved working with Timothy. It was one of the Christmas presents of this whole thing. We flew in, we were going to rehearse the next day and I was sitting there working on my lines and he walked in. We were just instantly pals. I adore him and like any great actor, he raises the level of your play.”
Were there ever any conversations about you popping up as a guest on your husband’s show Shameless?
Felicity Huffman: “Oh wouldn’t that be great?! We talked about it. I would like to go incognito so people would never know it’s me. I’d be so in costume or in heavy duty makeup that people wouldn’t know.”
You also have a couple of movies coming out including Stealing Cars. Who do you play in that?
Felicity Huffman: “In Stealing Cars I play a mother and my friend Rachel Winter produced that. She did Dallas Buyers Club. I think I did two days on that.”
– By Fred Topel
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