In the fast-paced world of ABC’s new drama series NOTORIOUS, there is a fine line between reporting the news and making the news. Looking to exploit their access to broadcast news and behind-the-scenes information, a television news producer and high-powered attorney team up and spin what is reported — to give them both the best possible position in breaking news and using it to their own advantage. Starring Piper Perabo, as Julia George — the television producer with a crack news team — and Daniel Sunjata, as Jake Gregorian — the attorney willing to do whatever it takes to get favorable press for his clients — NOTORIOUS delivers just the right amount of Thursday night sizzle with a dash of scandalous shenanigans.
While attending this past summer’s Television Critics Association tour, star talked about NOTORIOUS and who she plays in that high-stakes world.
Who do you portray in NOTORIOUS?
AIMEE: I play Ella Benjamin. She’s an associate at Jake’s (Daniel Sunjata) law firm. The law firm side of the show is loosely based off Mark Geragos and his practice. Then the other side is based on Wendy Walker and the show is loosely based on their lives and similar kinds of syndicated shows.
Josh Berman said you had a great story about how you shadowed Mark [Geragos] for a day and you went to some sort of blackmail meeting. What was that like?
AIMEE: Yes. I actually shadowed Mark for about two weeks. I got to go with Mark to the courts building and see him try a case. I got to see like intake interviews. We flew to New York and I met with an extortionist. It was the most hands on, full on experience I’ve ever had in my life, but I’m so grateful for it. It’s fascinating. Prior to this, I had no interaction with — for better or for worse with the criminal side of anything. I’d never been in a courtroom or anything like that. So being able to see it, and see it from that side of it, was fantastic. Just seeing Mark up there and do his thing in front of judges. It’s a very intricate dance. I kind of always sort of assumed that law was very cut and dry, and it is anything but that. And our show goes to show you like there’s anything but cut and dry. Of cousre, anything like this is very much relationship based. It’s fascinating.
What can you share about your character Ella’s relationship with Ryan Guzman’s character Ryan Mills because that seems like an interesting dynamic?
AIMEE: So Ella works at the law firm and she’s one of the associates at Jake Gregorian’s firm. She’s kind of trying to make a name for herself and then she ends up working with one of Julia’s assistants, Ryan. So they kind of have this on-again, off-again relationship and they end up having to work together in figuring out how that sort of dynamic works. Besides Ryun [Guzman], most of my scenes are either with J. August [Richards] or Daniel Sunjata at the law firm or with Kevin Zegers, because at some point his character is our client. So I’m on duty and watching him for a while. And I’ve had one scene like this quick interaction with Piper [Perabo] coming and going, so far. I feel Piper with all of her stuff that she has going on, it’s just like so much. There’s so many things going on.
NOTORIOUS definitely shows an interesting blurring between between the media and the legal system.
AIMEE: It’s one of those things. People are really starting to get very interested in real time news and the legal system. I mean, we consume media 24/7 on our phones, on Twitter, on everything. I feel that we are starting to now question the sources of where we’re getting the news. I mean, on things like Twitter, you’re starting to see not just what the big syndicated outlets put out, you are actually seeing people’s real life and real-time photos of events and also hearing about court cases as they occur. That is sort of shaping and manipulating the way that public and individuals watching all this media and how they think about cases — and to think about people which can influence cases.
It’s a weird dance between the media and the legal system, isn’t it?
AIMEE: It is! After watching the show you will definitely question any kind of information you’re getting fed to my a news source.
What attracted you to this kind of series?
AIMEE: I really loved the idea and I loved the concept of it. I’ve done a lot of different thing,s but I’ve never been on the law side of things. So that’s what’s such a fascinating educational experience. And my character’s kind of a bit of a badass! She takes no prisoners and is very hungry to succeed in life. After meeting with Mark and meeting his firm, he has almost like a girl-gang of “badass women” that are just so on top of their shit. They know everything and are so just like smart. It’s amazing to see that in a place and be able to sort of recreate that on this show of women being smart and powerful and educated — and that you don’t have to be the “damsel in distress” — you can be your own hero.
NOTORIOUS is a very female-empowered show, which is not surprising considering it is a Josh Berman show.
AIMEE: The show is very female show. On different levels, it’s very female-empowered. We take characters that typically
need somebody to take care of them and show that they are very much go get-them and hungry to get out there and do it on their own. And you see the pitfalls of also trying to do it on your own. So I think it’s an interesting thing. You have to get out there and follow your gut.
Looking to the steamier-side of things, how long is the dance going to be between your character and Ryan Guzman’s? Is that something that’s going to heat up right away or will that fade out?
AIMEE: It will heat up pretty quickly in the first season, in the first few episodes. We actually finished episode two and we’re starting three tomorrow. I think the viewers will be very excited.
Should we be rooting for Daniel and Piper’s characters to have a bit of a romance? I couldn’t tell if they had like a sexual relationship kind of thing going on or what.
AIMEE: I think it’s interesting thinking about their relationship. It’s one of those things where they aren’t any sort of thing. It’s kind of like this flirtation, but also at the same time they’re both very power hungry individuals and it is sort of a question of: how far will they go to save their friendship versus how far will they go to protect a client or get a story?
So they don’t quite trust each other that much.
AIMEE: That’s exactly it. You can trust somebody with your life, but you wouldn’t trust them with your phone.
To see who ends up trusting who and if that trust is betrayed and who ends up being played, be sure to tune in for the premiere of NOTORIOUS on Thursday, September 22nd at 9:00 p.m. on ABC.