Abigail Spencer takes on femme fatale role in 'Reprisal'

Luaine Lee, Tribune News Service on

Published in Entertainment News

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- After benign roles in "Suits," "Grey's Anatomy" and "Mad Men," actress Abigail Spencer was lusting for something new. "I kept telling my team, I'm like, 'I want to play a monster next.' She finally got her wish. Spencer is portraying the relentless Doris in Hulu's new drama, "Reprisal."

"How do I find someone who has all of the things that reflect energetically what we're going through on the planet, through one woman's journey?" asks Spencer. "And there's Doris. There she was!"

The series, which premieres on the streaming site Friday, features Spencer as the unrelenting femme fatale bent on revenge. The series was written by Josh Corbin ("StartUp," "Quantum Break"). Spencer says she was both surprised and delighted she was considered for the part.

"Everything here is out of Josh Corbin's brain," she says. "A year ago, one summer afternoon, him and (producers) Warren Littlefield and Graham Littlefield and Anne Johnson and Jon Van Tulleken, our director, came over to my house, and told me the story of Doris ... And they just presented this dream of film noir, and cinematic references, and a role that typically is written for a MAN," she recalls.

"And they said, 'We'd like you to do this.' And I was like, 'How do you even know who I am?'"

They knew her from the multiple roles she's essayed -- everything from a school teacher in "Mad Men," a high-powered attorney in "Suits" to a nanny in "All My Children."


"And when they came and shared it with me, we just started vibing back and forth. I said, 'I feel like she (Doris) was a brunette. And I want her to look like someone who cut her hair off and disguised herself and made it blonde. And it's a very era-ambiguous show ... So we're creating a new genre of era-ambiguity," she says, "where anyone can look from a different genre. So we're creating something in the moment, and honoring his vision."

While the exact period is not delineated, the tone of the piece is. "And Lauren Bacall was a big reference from Josh that he presented," says Spencer.

While her character is focused on retaliation, she's not all bad, says Corbin. "I think the difference between good and evil is a blurred line," he says.

"I think it's more understanding a character's motivation, and what drives them to do what they do, be it horrific or good. And also I think that some of the best drama really is when I want the audience to ask themselves, 'Well, wait. I don't know how I feel about that.' I think uncertainty, in terms of whether someone would do what that character does or not, is a powerful aspect of this medium."


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