Interview: ‘Gracepoint’ co-star Jessica Lucas on why she probably isn’t playing the killer

11.06.14 2 years ago

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VICTORIA, BC. We're inching closer to the revelation of Danny Solano's killer on FOX's “Gracepoint.”

Will David Tennant's Detective Carver solve the crime?

Or might intrepid report Renee Clemons crack the case first?

In May, I sat down with actress Jessica Lucas to discuss Renee's reportorial instincts and how easy it was for her to tap into her inner journalist.

At the time, we also discussed Lucas' journey to FOX after a steady series of roles on The CW, including “Melrose Place” and “Cult.”

As with last week's Kevin Zegers chat, you can read my pre-show Q&A from the “Broadchurch” remake's Vancouver Island set below, but you can also check out my video interview with Zegers and Lucas from August, when I had seen seven episodes, above.

And, as always, “Gracepoint” airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m. on FOX…

HitFix: So everyone”s talking about how this is different from the original and how anyone”s a suspect. Your character is coming in from the outside though, right?

Jessica Lucas: Yes.

HitFix: So is there any chance that your character is the killer or do you feel reasonably confident it”s not gonna be you?

Jessica Lucas: I”ll say that I”ve been playing it like I”m not.

HitFix: Okay.

Jessica Lucas: But I don”t know. I haven”t read the last couple so I”m sticking with: Anything could happen. But yeah, you know, she”s a journalist so she”s… the chances of her being the killer are a lot less likely.

HitFix: I don”t want to talk about my own personal instincts but it”s not like a journalist hasn”t killed someone at some point somewhere.

Jessica Lucas: Oh, do you know something?

HitFix: I”m just saying hypothetically.

Jessica Lucas: Do you have some information?

HitFix: I think it probably has happened at some point in time.

Jessica Lucas: It probably has. And she does have a previous connection with Detective Carver that dates back, which I think is in the original as well. I”m not as familiar with the original.

HitFix: They were connected.

Jessica Lucas: Right. So I guess, you know, you could say that she”s coming in with some sort of tie to somebody. So maybe she could be involved in some way. We”ll see.

HitFix: But is that nice for you because I talked with all the other actors and they all have to sort of walk the line between being suspicious but not being… or being suspects without being suspicious. You don”t have to worry about that.

Jessica Lucas: Yeah. It”s nice to come in with a clear motivation and I”ve just been able to focus on that. But that being said it still deviates a lot to what happens as me from what happens in “Broadchurch.” So it was good that I didn”t watch it I think because I didn”t come to any sort of preconceived notions of how I should play it or anything like that.

HitFix: Did you watch none of the original?

Jessica Lucas: So when I was auditioning I watched one episode,  think maybe two episodes, in order to get the tone of what I was doing. And then I spoke to Danny [Futterman] and Danny said, “Don”t watch any more – I”d prefer if you didn”t.” And so I said, “Okay.” And I think it was because he knew that what they were gonna do with me is different than what they do in “Broadchurch.”

HitFix: Were you surprised that that was what he told you?

Jessica Lucas: A little bit. Although I”ve done like remakes of things before and I find that it”s usually the same is that they don”t want you watching it.

HitFix: So you didn”t watch all the episodes of “Melrose Place” before that.

Jessica Lucas: No, I can”t say that I did. No I did not.

HitFix: Is that good for you? Like what would your instinct have been? Would your instinct have been to avoid…

Jessica Lucas: Yeah, to avoid. If it”s the exact same part? I mean it”s different in “Melrose Place,” that was new characters so it doesn”t really matter. But when you”re playing the exact same role as someone who”s already been portrayed I think it can be dangerous to watch. You don”t want to copy. You want it to come from your own ideas.

HitFix: Talk about your character as she is here. How good a journalist is this woman?

Jessica Lucas: I think she”s great and I think she”s really good at her job. I think she”s ruthless and ambitious and goes after what she wants. But I think maybe she”s a little overzealous sometimes and that can get her into trouble. And in this show it gets her into particularly bad trouble with the town and someone in particular.

HitFix: How does this sort of journalist instinct compare to your own acting instinct sort of. Because journalists are inherently inquisitive. They have questions. They get into people”s heads. Actors presumably the same to some degree.

Jessica Lucas: Sure. Yeah, and you know what”s interesting is she wears different hats depending on who she”s speaking to which, you know, could be compared to being an actor. It”s like depending on who she”s talking to she can be seductive, you know. She can be a little bit more of a wallflower. She kind of just adapts a personality a lot. So that”s similar. I”m nowhere near as ruthless or driven as she is. I mean I like my job and I want to do well at it but I think there”s much more integrity to being a journalist maybe than being an actor.

HitFix: It depends.

Jessica Lucas: It depends on what kind of a journalist you are, yes.

HitFix: I was going to say I”m fairly sure you”ve had circumstances where you questioned the integrity of some journalist because we all have.

Jessica Lucas: Right, of course. Of course. Yeah. But it”s interesting because I understand from being interviewed how you can have a bit of a wall with somebody who”s asking you questions, so I sort of used that and thought how interesting that I”m gonna be on the flip side of that.

HitFix: I was gonna say this is, you know, it”s not a character whose profession is totally foreign to you so...

Jessica Lucas: No, no, no, no, no. I get to interact with journalists a lot.

HitFix: What is your own sort of tendency as a sort of detective. When you”re on a show like this do you sort of try figuring out who did it?

Jessica Lucas: No.

HitFix: Why not?

Jessica Lucas: Because I like to be surprised and I want to find out things as it”s going. And I tend to just listen to the producers if they are telling me that it”s gonna be different or changed and I believe them wholeheartedly because why not. There”s a reason that they send us down the roads that they do or they push us in the directions that they do. So I was happy to sort of keep it as a surprise and as every script came out I was dying to read it because I wanted to see what happened.

HitFix: Have you had suspects in your mind?

Jessica Lucas: Well sure, sure, yeah.

HitFix: I”m not gonna ask you to tell me who it is but how sure are you that the person you”re thinking it is right now is going to be it…

Jessica Lucas: Pretty sure.

HitFix: Okay.

Jessica Lucas: Yeah.

HitFix: And do you have conversations with the other actors about that?

Jessica Lucas: I think we”ve all been speculating the entire time, yeah. We love to get together and people talk about it or say who they think or if they think it”s gonna be different, if it will be different. And if it is different who it”s gonna be. Yeah, absolutely.

HitFix: Does anyone seem like they”re a particularly good sleuth or detective?

Jessica Lucas: Ummm… No.

HitFix: So you”re all pretty inept.

Jessica Lucas: We”re all pretty in the dark I think. I think we”ve been given a lot of red herrings so we”re all pretty in dark about that.

HitFix: Now a lot of the characters in this have these sort of harrowing arcs and they have to spend the rest of the time basically, you know, grieving about the child in several of the cases. Your character doesn”t have to do that. Do you feel like there”s sort of an ease that you have on set that maybe some of the actors, other actors don”t?

Jessica Lucas: Sure, probably yeah. Although I have to say Virginia has been the most fascinating because, you know, in reading that role you say, “Oh my God like every scene she has is the grieving for her dead son. Like that”s got to be taxing four months of that.” And she switches it on and off like you wouldn”t believe. Like screaming, bawling, crying and then as soon as you say cut she”s smiling, laughing, having a good time. So I don”t know. I guess it”s all perspective. I would think that it would be more difficult but I mean this job has been pretty straightforward for me. Yeah, it”s been fun.

HitFix: Would you want to have that job, Virginia”s job?

Jessica Lucas: Absolutely. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean the more that you can sink your teeth into an actor the better.

HitFix: But how comfortable do you think you would feel doing that?

Jessica Lucas: No, I like to challenge myself and I like to try new things and this certainly isn”t something that I”ve had to play before. So yeah, if I could be in any sort of role like that in the future I would love to do something like that.

HitFix: What was your thought process signing on for this. You”ve done a number of shows? What was the draw to this one versus other things?

Jessica Lucas: It was the cast. That was it. It was, you know, Oscar winner or Oscar nominees and Anna Gunn, who I absolutely loved in “Breaking Bad,”  I wasn”t as familiar with David Tennant”s work but I know he”s like a loved British actor. Not British but Scottish.

HitFix: I was gonna say you could start a whole war right there.

Jessica Lucas: Yeah, yeah, I know, Scottish. I thought that the pilot script was very well written. I thought the pedigree that was involved was great and FOX, they really wanted me to do it. So it was all those combinations.

HitFix: What is sort of the difference because you had been sort of in the CW pipeline for a while. You”ve done a number of shows there. Did you feel a certain comfort with the CW and was it a different feeling?

Jessica Lucas: It wasn't about comfort. It was more that they were really generous with me and were always showing me what they had in development and letting me decide if I wanted to be involved and if I read something for them that I thought I could do a good job on and that I really liked, I was on board. And I don”t look at it in terms of like network so much is that it”s about when I read it do I connect with it? Do I like the character? And this was something that I read it and I thought, “Yeah, this is awesome.” So it was like at the very beginning of a pilot season. So I made my decision quite quickly.

HitFix: I”m still interested in sort of that relationship with The CW, you know, that they would let you see what they had in development. That doesn”t happen that often.

Jessica Lucas: Yeah, I”d been working for them since I was 21, 22-ish or something and I just developed a good relationship with them. I think I become close to the people that I work with and I guess they were happy enough to keep me in the fold with the work that I was doing. So yeah, they were just always really generous to me and nice. It was that kind of a thing.

HitFix: So did it seem like maybe there was only gonna be a certain kind of role or a certain kind of show if you hadn”t stayed in that pipeline?

Jessica Lucas: No, not at all. This came up when it came up and so I just jumped on the opportunity and thought that was that.

HitFix: How much time have you actually been out and about in Victoria and on the island?

Jessica Lucas: A fair bit. I mean grew up in Vancouver so a lot of my family lives here and I spend a lot of time here. So I already knew it pretty well and we”ve been going out to dinner a lot. It”s kind of a quieter town so that”s been the extent is going out to dinner, hanging out with each other when we have the chance. 

HitFix: But it hasn”t been kind of like a strange and dynamic change of scenery for you obviously.

Jessica Lucas: Oh no, not at all. I mean this is very much home to me.

HitFix: So how excited are you to get that last script and find out who did it? Or do you not expect to?

Jessica Lucas: Yeah, there”s certainly we”re just about to go into shooting the last couple and the way that they”ve been giving us information has been very unorthodox. So I don”t know. I don”t know how they”re planning on doing it. I”m very excited to find out but I don”t know that what I read will be accurate. It”s one of those kind of things.

HitFix: Are there things like that already? Have there been?

Jessica Lucas: On our show? Well this is sort of the last couple so this is the first time they”ve really had to hide information from us.

HitFix: Okay. Is it just David? Like does David have the most information? Is it David and Anna or do you guys don”t even know.

Jessica Lucas: From talking to people no one has any more information than anyone else as far as I know.

HitFix: Who”s the most antsy to find out do you think?

Jessica Lucas: I don”t know. Kendrick [Sampson] talks about it a lot I think. And Virginia too. The people who were fans of the original on our cast are much more excited to find out if ours is the same or not.

HitFix: And I assume the original's been spoiled for you?

Jessica Lucas: Well I tried to have it not be just in case it was the same in ours, but Kevin [Rankin] told me one day and I was so mad at him. I was like “I was trying to not know!” But yeah, he ruined it.

HitFix: And are you going to watch the original after you”re done?

Jessica Lucas: Probably yeah after it”s done. I mean we could potentially do a second season too so I don”t know. I might just keep hands-off until this is all done.

“Gracepoint” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on FOX.

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