Wednesday, July 16, 2014 / 12:45 pm
Katherine Heigl and her State Of Affairs costar Alfre Woodard sat down to talk with the Los Angeles times this weekend, to share their thoughts on the upcoming CIA drama and the characters that they both portray.
Each day President Constance Payton (Alfre Woodard) is faced with dozens of life and death decisions. To prioritize the biggest international crises facing the country, one top CIA analyst - Charleston Tucker (Katherine Heigl) - assembles the President's Daily Briefing. The new NBC show looks at this list of the most vital security issues facing the nation, a list which brings with it moral and political judgment calls for Charleston and her trusted group of brilliant analysts at the agency.
What was it about Charleston - Alfre, for you, Constance - that made you think, I want to do this, I want to see more from this character and I think viewers will too?
Katherine Heigl: For me, it was important to me that Charleston not only be a very strong, confident and very intelligent woman with a clear idea of what she wants to do in life. And her path is very patriarchal... patriotic, I mean. Freudian slip? She has a job that doesn't tend to garner a lot of glory. It does garner a lot of blame when things go wrong. When things go right, no one really knows what goes into making sure it all goes right. So I think it's interesting that she chose this career and chose this path. And I wanted her, at the same time, to not be this valiant hero, this shining star. I wanted her to also have this complicated history and personal life because, as an actor, that sort of dichotomy is always so much more fun to play.
Alfre Woodard: Hello, for me, I mean, I get to be president! It's fun to play the president, rather than to be the president. But what drew me was how smart the script was, and this world we hadn't seen before - this world most Americans didn't know existed before we went after Bin Laden. And that it was being done by people who knew the world. So we're not stepping too outside the boundaries; it's based in realism. And I love politics. I have worked in politics for several decades, so it was a chance to live in a world that was important to me.
Is Charleston challenging you in a way you feel you haven't been challenged before?
Katherine Heigl: You know what's funny is... I'm not... I'm not as smart as that. I think I generally just gravitate toward a story or a character and am like, 'I want to do that! That's sounds fun! Let me try it!' With this particular role, I felt there was something about it that was uniquely different from what I've done in the past. And not because I haven't done drama, or because I haven't done television or because I haven't played a professional in a professional world that i absolutely know nothing about - like the medical world! But because I'm older - I'm 35, not 25 - and because she feels like such a grown-up to me. Even though she's making crappy personal choices, she still feels like an adult who has had real adult experiences both professionally and personally in a way that have affected her and have forced her to grow up even faster. I don't know. There's just something about her that I find really compelling and am wanting to be a part of because I myself feel more like a grown-up than I used to, even in the last few years.
The immediate reaction when word went out about the series was that it sounded like 'Homeland' lite. That here was the broadcast version of the cable series. Had that not been a red light from the beginning for either of you - do we want to be viewed as a copy cat, will that drive viewers away because premium cable can get away with more, etc.?
Katherine Heigl: During the pitching process, that was sort of the problem, to be honest. We had to convince people that's not what we're doing. Just because it's about the CIA, it's a uniquely different show. Just because Grey's Anatomy was in the medical world, it was not ER. So it is something we've had to come up against. Honestly, I think the proof is in the pudding. Once viewers watch, I think they'll see it's really nothing like Homeland. It is a very different take of the CIA, which was why I was very compelled by it. We haven't seen this side of it. When do they ever do a show about the analysts? Because that isn't as sexy as the operatives. It's really about the analyst and Langley, [Va.].
Read the interview in full on the Los Angeles Times web site.