Friday, 3 July 2009

A Truthful Way

Since a few days the first episode of Durham County's second season is available as a free online preview at, unfortunately access is restricted to Canadian viewers, or to rephrase it technically, restricted to people with Canadian IP addresses. So, use your imagination if you can't wait until July 13th.
I couldn't wait and watched the streaming version. You can read my personal, unfiltered first reaction as a comment to the latest Durham County post here on the blog.

In a new interview Michelle Forbes talks briefly about DC and playing complex characters:

There are not a lot of parts out there for smart actresses, the kind who like their characters complex, challenging, and even dislikeable. Movies today, at least the sort made with real money, relegate most actresses to the “girlfriend part.” Likewise, the current slew of much-vaunted serial dramas produced for cable television are, with a few exceptions, primarily about complex, challenging, and dislikeable men.

Thank the goddess for Michelle Forbes – the closest thing to a true femme fatale to slink across the screen in years. Tall, handsome (yes, women can be handsome – it's an attitude) and eerily present, Forbes has brought her brainy acting style to many of the most critically acclaimed and popular television shows of the last decade – including Battlestar Galactica , Prison Break , In Treatment , Homicide , 24 and True Blood (wherein she plays a mysterious, demonic entity).

Forbes's latest role, Durham County 's compromised, compromising (and possibly murderous) shrink Dr. Pen Verrity, allows Forbes to be both evil and sympathetic, arch, unscrupulous and yet wholly believable.

What more could an actress want?

You're the new kid on Durham County. Any interesting hazing rituals?

I think walking into Laurie Finstad Knizhnik's [ Durham County 's writer] brain alone was enough. She's a pretty fascinating, interesting, dark woman.

Did you do any research into forensic psychiatry before you took on the part of Dr. Verrity?

Actually, because of some of the work I've done in the past, I was fairly familiar with it. I did a series about 10 years ago, called Wonderland , for ABC, that was set in Bellevue Hospital in New York, and I played the psychiatrist heading the emergency room. So, for quite a while I hung out with forensic psychiatrists, and spent a lot of time speaking to their patients. I once spoke to a man who killed his children ... so I had a fairly large grasp of that world.
What was interesting for me about Durham County was to look at a crime drama, a character study about violence and how it affects people, coming out of Canada. As you know, you're often perceived as being quiet pacifists who've got a lot of things figured out that the rest of us can't seem to figure out, and we never think of violence perpetrating your society the way it does others. But of course, it does. Violence is everywhere. Violence is a global issue.

Durham County is very much a show about men – it's full of tough guys, murderous guys, angry guys, dissolute guys. How do you create a space for yourself in such a male anxiety-driven show?

Because the writer has really explored the rage and violence within women Рwhich we usually don't want to look at, or we'll look at in a clich̩ way, we'll look at it in a shallow way, but we won't look at it in a truthful way РI think the show's an extraordinary study of how violence affects women on a silent level, and how violence is usually turned inward by women, to a place of self-harm.

I agree, but I'm just wondering how you manage all that on-set testosterone.

God, it's rare that I'm not. If you think of Homicide, that was a set filled with testosterone. True Blood 's got a lot of testosterone on set. And Battlestar really had a lot of testosterone. I tend to fit in and just be one of the boys.

Are you drawn to creepy, repellent characters?

I don't know that I'm drawn to them, I guess I'm just drawn to the most complicated characters I can find. There are plenty of clichéd roles out there. I'm always looking for something that will fill up every part of me and use every cell of me.