During a conference call on February 9, Katherine Heigl and executive producer Tony Phelan spoke about what fans can expect from their new legal series, Doubt.
Heigl plays Sadie, a successful defense lawyer who falls for Billy Brennan (Steven Pasquale), a client who is accused of murdering his girlfriend 24 years ago.
The series reunites Heigl with Grey’s Anatomy executive producers Phelan and Joan Rater, who created Doubt and wrote the pilot.
Rounding out the cast is Dulé Hill as Sadie’s close friend and colleague, Albert Cobb. Laverne Cox plays Cameron Wirth, a transgender Ivy League graduate, and Elliott Gould iportrays Isaiah Roth, a legal legend who runs the firm.
One of things I enjoy about doing these calls is you get a glimpse of the real person and not just the persona. I’m always fascinated by the responses any time I have the chance to ask who they see themselves as.
Greg Staffa: Thanks for taking our questions today. The first part of my question is for Tony and then a follow up with Katherine. Tony, there are many legal dramas both good and bad that have been made through the years. At what point in the process did you realize, ‘Hey I have something special here that the audience is going to love?’
Tony Phelan: When Joan and I came to, we signed a deal with CBS to develop our own shows after leaving Grey’s Anatomy and when you do that, you kind of look over the landscape and see what is on the air right now and what kind of fits. And one of the things we noticed is since 9/11, there have been a lot of shows about prosecutors and about putting people in prison and catching bad guys. We felt like the other side of that dynamic was missing. And the other thing that struck us as we were reading the news and paying attention to what’s going on in the world is that up until I think very recently, there seemed to be some consensus between Republicans and Democrats that our criminal justice system has some very serious flaws in it, in the way that it’s operating right now. And a chance to tell those stories and to tell the story of these lawyers who, god forbid, you find yourself accused of a crime and the full weight of the government is coming down on you — who is that person; who is going to stand at your side and give you a vigorous defense? A vigorous defense that everyone in the United States is entitled to. So the chance to tell those stories felt like that was something that I didn’t really see on television so that really excited us. I think as we went further and further into the show and assembled the cast and really started writing the cases that were coming into us, it was very exciting and challenging to kind of create a legal show where the audience is always feeling as our characters are feeling. That they’re kind of caught in the middle. There are pluses and minuses to both sides so dealing with that kind of gray world is exciting and what makes perfect drama.
Greg Staffa: Katherine, was there a moment for you that stood out where you stood back and said, ‘Wow, we got something here?’
Katherine Heigl: I think the biggest moment for me was just when Tony and Joan were talking about the scope of the show before I came on and realizing how clever and thoughtful and truly unique their ideas were. That was the moment I went, “this was special.” And then, you never know exactly how it’s going to come alive. You know, it looks awesome on the page, but then you don’t know if it’s going to come alive in the same way. For me, I think the second moment where I realized we had something special on our hands was there were so many moments on set where we as a group, the lawyers, all together, either for the morning briefing or whenever they get together as a group, I noticed just the dynamic among us as performers and as characters sort of the way we engage with each other and make each other laugh and the chemistry, I think we just kind of automatically had made me realize it’s not only great on the page, it’s coming alive at a really exciting, fun, and engaging way. And I feel like when we’re having that much fun together, it’s really evident on camera and it’s fun for the audience. Those are the shows I most love to watch; there is that chemistry among the characters and there’s these relationships that are fun and engaging to watch and be a part of that I felt that we had that right away.
Greg Staffa: Often we associate actresses and actors with characters they have played in the past despite other accomplishments, like charity work and stuff they have done. When you look in the mirror, who is Katherine Heigl to you?
Katherine Heigl: Hmm, (laughter) I don’t know. I think for me I just see myself mostly as…I guess how I hope that my family sees me. I hope that I’m mostly funny, sometimes stern and patient, and loving and compassionate, and a little upbeat.
Greg Staffa: And how much of that will we be able to see in your character?
Katherine Heigl: Actually, a lot. Sadie is probably more, I’d say she’s more ambitious than I am. She feels almost a bit more like a grown-up than I because my job feels like play and her job feels real. But we are similar in that I think she is a compassionate person. I think she cares very much about humanity and obviously, these people she represents and she believes in the good in people. I think that her first instinct is to believe in the inherent good in humanity and I hope that stands well. I think she’s funny, and I think she’s a little OCD.
Tune in to the series premiere of Doubt, Wednesday, February 15 at 10/9c only on CBS.
Official website: http://www.cbs.com/shows/doubt/
Photos ©2017 CBS Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
© 2017, Greg Staffa. All rights reserved.
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