Photo credit: ©(ABC/Bob D'Amico)
On tonight's two-hour series premiere of new mystery thriller, Secrets and Lies, 'Ben Crawford' (Ryan Phillippe) is about to become a murder suspect after discovering the body of his neighbor's son in the woods. Suspicions abound as Detective Cornell (Juliette Lewis) searches for the truth. I had the chance to speak with the talented KaDee Strickland, who portrays Ryan Phillippe's wife on the show ('Christy Crawford'), about this exciting new drama and what fans can expect.
The Reel Spin: Your new drama, Secrets and Lies, premieres [tonight] on ABC with a two-hour special. What can fans expect? How would you describe the show?
KaDee Strickland: I would probably say that Secrets and Lies is a really intriguing look into the lives of everyday people that seem like they could be your neighbors going through some of the most intense and tragic experiences a person could face, and nothing is as it seems with these people.
TRS: So obviously that would leave room for all sorts of interesting drama and storylines...
Strickland: That's right... They feel like they're everyday normal people that you might stand next to in the grocery line or see in your neighborhood, but they've got a lot going on behind the scenes, and to me that's always interesting when it feels like it's close to you as an audience member... when it makes sense, like it could happen to you . . . I'm so interested in that kind of material, and I was from the get go. The minute I read the first page, I just thought oh boy I really want to know more about these people, and that's really exciting for an actor.
TRS: Yeah, absolutely. Now the show's actually based on an Australian series, correct?
Strickland: Yeah it is.
TRS: Do you guys expect to follow the series closely or do you think you'll deviate at some point?
Strickland: Well, the interesting thing is, I have not seen the Australian yet, and I haven't seen ours either. I know they added four episodes, which makes it a different experience. I also know we shot multiple endings, so I don't know how it ends, which is also really fun for me as an audience. I can only imagine that it's quite different given that we were able to explore the characters with additional episodes, but I won't see that one until I finish ours, because honestly I want to see how ours ends. I loved the original scripts for those shows so very much, which is another reason I was very interested when they told me they wanted to sit down with me and talk about this. Again, when I read Barbie Kligman's script, I was just like holy wow, this is amazing.
TRS: That's awesome...
Strickland: Because on the page it read with such intensity, and on the page it informed you so much about literally the way a footstep sounds, you know? So I was in the world immediately, and that's something you kind of can't turn away from when you're an actor. It definitely perks you up to want to play around in that.
Ryan Phillippe, KaDee Strickland Photo Credit: ©(ABC/Fred Norris)
TRS: Definitely... Speaking of being an actor, you're known for playing strong female characters. Is that something that you seek out?
Strickland: Well, you know the good fortune is we have really strong female writers and male writers that are more aware of how to develop female characters in a way that women identify with as strong as vulnerable as complex and as real. I think what I've been lucky in as I've played women that have strengths that come from the circumstances of their life and sort of the stock of who they are, and [that's a] gift, and I don't take it lightly. We see more of that all the time in television, and I'm just one of those lucky gals who's gotten to explore those characters. I don't seek it out so much as I seek out material that really speaks to me and is different each project trying to look for a different experience, so that I can stretch myself and surprise myself as much as an audience with what I can do is the hope. In truth, I've just been so lucky and so blessed to work with really talented people that know how to write a woman in the way that I think women identify with. Barbie, Shonda Rhimes... those are two people that really know how to do it, and 'Christy Crawford' is not at all like the character I played [on Private Practice]. There are so few things that I can compare and say 'oh well they're like this in this way' - they're really not, which was part of why I was so excited to have the opportunity to play her, because you don't want to do the same thing over and over again. This circumstance is just so different than being in a hospital environment. Living in a cul-de-sac and being a real estate woman with a manicure and teenage daughter was very different.
TRS: Yeah... just a little bit different...
Strickland: [Laughs] Yeah...
TRS: So, how can you describe 'Christy'?
Strickland: 'Christy' is a complicated woman. She's going through a troubled marriage, and she loves her family very much, and she does have a great love for what 'Ben' has brought into her life, but she also is really struggling within the marriage, and this happens with 'Tom,' and it turns everybody's world upside down. How do you proceed? How do you navigate your own complications when someone's tragedy seems so much greater and affects your family so deeply off the bat for a multitude of reasons. 'Tom' was almost like our kid to a degree, so how do you respond to that? How does that affect your family and your life? That was really so interesting to me. 'Christy' is a woman who had a life that she thought was going to go one way, and it's gone a completely different direction, marriage included... career included. All those things. I think a lot of people, not just women, can relate to looking at their life when it comes to a certain point, and thinking how did I get here, and who are these people around me, and what am I doing? You know things like that are a bigger question of self, and then when you're asking those questions in a moment when the woman across the street is mourning the loss of her child, that's complicated. How do you look at those things with the same weight that you once did when someone else is suffering in a different way? How does that start spinning your wheels about yourself, and you're going to learn a lot about 'Jess' and 'Christy,' which I think is interesting. These are very complicated women, and then of course 'Cornell' gets thrown in the mix. It's a very fun world to be female, I'll say that, because they're very dynamic characters in this piece.
Photo Credit: ©(ABC/Fred Norris)
TRS: That's exciting... You also mentioned the cast... the show has such an impressive cast... I mean the show has Ryan Phillippe and Juliette Lewis. I imagine that made it even more of a pleasure to go into work every day.
Strickland: Well, Juliette, there's no one like her. Just off the bat, I can tell you that. There's no one like her as an actor, and really she's just such a lovely woman... such a fun woman, and it's not necessarily fun... this world. This is not a world where you go to work and think hey I'm going to just party all day, it's not that at all. It's really intense, and some days you just had to laugh, because it was just so very dark. But, you know, they're wonderful. Ryan's a wonderful guy. I can tell you to watch him play such a loving father, and to see him with his kids in life was a really exciting thing, especially cause I was a new parent. Going into that territory with someone who had been a parent much longer than I had and seeing how he related to that was really wonderful and very interesting for me as an actor to see how he related to the parental aspect of this character in addition to all of the other hard work that he had, because he's in basically every scene and every frame of the show for the most part. That's really intense for an actor to go through. They're both pros, you know? They've worked together before, and there's certainly not a single dull moment on that set... I'll tell you that... amongst the entire cast. There was no time for anyone to be idle or complacent. It was very fast... everything we shot was so fast. We just worked very quickly and really intensely, and I loved it. They are two actors that I can only say I had a good experience with.
TRS: Well, that is fantastic to hear, and the show looks amazing... can't wait to see it...
Strickland: Thank you... me too...
Secrets and Lies premieres tonight on ABC 9/8c. For more on the show, please click here.
Follow KaDee Strickland on Twitter: @KaDeeStrick
Interview by Pamela Thomas