Fans of “The Matrix” trilogy surely remember Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity, a perpetually black-clad ass-kicker. But after that? Sure, she popped up in “Chocolat” and “Memento,” but largely seemed to fall off the pop culture radar. But Moss is back in a big way with “Vegas,” the new drama on CBS (premiering Tues. Sept. 25 at 10:00 p.m.). Set in the 1960s, the inspired-by-a-true story series will be focused on mobster Vincent Savino (“The Shield”‘s Michael Chiklis) duking it out with an old-school cowboy sheriff, Ralph Lamb (Dennis Quaid). However, there will still be plenty of room for Moss’ assistant district attorney Katherine O’Connell, an iconoclast who exists in a time when there weren’t many women working, much less as lawyers. I spoke to Moss at the TCA press tour about the show, her recent low-profile (and the reasons for it) and why she won’t be taking her three children — Owen, Jaden and Frances — to the set anytime soon.
HitFix Interview: Carrie-Anne Moss talks ‘Vegas’ and life post-‘Matrix’
We know there’s conflict ahead for Quaid and Chiklis’ characters, but is your character going to get into the mix?
I hope so. I think the layering of her as a character unfolds, I don’t even know yet, because that’s the nature of television.
Have you had a chance to pick writer and show executive prodder Nicholas Pileggi’s brain about your character?
I haven’t had the opportunity to do that yet, but I hope to. I need to. And Greg [Walker, “Vegas” executive producer], too. Greg’s so wonderful and amazing to talk to. I know they have a strong vision for all the characters. It’s just a question of starting and not bombarding everyone too much with what I need. I don’t want to do that, you know what I mean? But I will, I will.
Given that this series has two very strong male characters, how do you make Katherine stand out?
I’ll just kick somebody if they’re not nice to me.
Has “The Matrix” trilogy been helpful to you, or do you think that you became so identified with Trinity it was hard to break out of that mold?
It’s been a blessing. Oh my God, yes. It also gave me the financial freedom to raise my children and not work. And leave them with a nanny. I feel so blessed I’ve been able to stay home with them. “The Matrix” gave me that, you know what I mean? That’s a huge deal for me. I’ve worked a little bit, but I’ve been able to be choosy. I’ll tell you something, I know at the end of my life I will look back and know that that was a gift, it won’t be about, oh I made that movie, oh I made that other movie. That was kind of the motto of my life, what’s important. I’m 9 years in and I can tell you it’s okay to step out too, it’s all about balance.
Will you bring your kids to the set?
I won’t bring them. I don’t work every day. I just don’t think it’s a place for kids. I think they’re happier at home. I remember when they were younger I brought my kids on set and they loved my trailer and they wanted candy. I don’t want them to associate it with that. They have their lives, and I go to work for a little bit. I don’t know, maybe I’ll have them come, but I haven’t really done that except when I was nursing.
This show and your character must have been a powerful draw, then. What made you decide to do it?
I know that in the show that my character is going to be very strong. And I like that, because I feel strongly about the dichotomy between the natural world and the material world, and I like that she’s fighting for the natural world.
There’s also a poignancy to the show, in that we see what Las Vegas was and how different it’s become.
I know, and I never really thought about that with Las Vegas. I always thought of Las Vegas as kind of like not really what I stand for in terms of values. It’s not where my soul yearns to hang out. But there was a time when it wasn’t that. I hadn’t actually thought of that. But my character grew up in that, when it was beautiful and it was pure. And I love that. I love that fight, because I feel like i have that fight every day in my life, to be in Hollywood and be authentic, to be myself and be truthful to what’s important to me, and then you have children. The world is a hard place to have kids. It’s so technologically based right now. How do you teach your children about relationships? It’s that same metaphor everywhere. That’s a big part of why I’m doing it.
Was finding that personal connection to the character pivotal to you?
I have to or I don’t understand my way in. I can’t do it any other way. If I can’t find relevancy to my soul, I don’t know what to do then.