EXCLUSIVE : NOTORIOUS Scoop: Interview with Daniel Sunjata

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 Daniel Sunjata talked about NOTORIOUS and who he plays in that high-stakes world.

Tell me about your character on the show a little bit and what kind of surprises we can expect.
DANIEL: I play Jake Gregorian. He’s a high powered attorney. He has a very advantageous relationship with Piper Perabo’s character Julia. My character is based on Mark Geragos and her character is based on Wendy Walker of the “Nancy Grace” show. And what the viewers can expect is a window into the point of intersection where the world of law and the criminal justice system meets the media. And the moral ambiguity on both sides of that tightrope. Sometimes they do things and make agreements. They bend the rules for one another in order for them to mutually benefit. And sometimes if their agendas are at odds, they’re frenemies and not friends. It’s very entertaining. It’s ABC, so it’s sexy. We’ve got a very sexy cast.

What drew you to this particular role?
DANIEL: There was no downside. It’s not like I can say, “Oh, it was this.” It was ABC. It was a great script. I had other things that I could have considered, but really hands-down this was the thing that not only I wanted to do, but other people that I knew in the business were like, “Dude, for real? You have an offer for that.” So I mean I was never not going to take this job. And it’s the best time slot on TV during the week between GREY’S ANATOMY and HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER.

That dance between your character Jake and Piper’s character Julia. Is that something that they recently created or if they have a long history with their relationship?
DANIEL: When you meet them they have already known each other for quite some time and they already have a working dynamic that is kind of their default setting. There is underneath that the possibility of a sexual tension of sorts, but they both benefit so greatly from the lack of murkiness between each other that to tempt fate in that way – like if it doesn’t work out and “if we don’t end up married with children and stay together and go the distance, why would we want to fuck this up? I can influence the court of public opinion and you can get ratings.” Do you know what I mean?

So they’re never going to mess with that then.
DANIEL: [Laughs] I don’t know about never. Probably like Season 3.

What do you like about this character? What do you most admire about him?
DANIEL: Well, he wears his suits are superlatively crafted. The suits and the shirts are just like I wish I dressed like that in my real life. And I like the fact that he cares about children. I love the fact that he has as soft spot for kids. I’m adopted and he’s adopted, so I like that point of tangency. And I like the fact that although he may play things a little fast and loose, he’s not the ambulance chasing attorney. He’s not going to defend Jeffrey Dahmer or somebody that’s clearly guilty and try to make the person seem innocent. He believes in the people that he represents although he might be willing to do some things that some people might consider unethical. He’s a little bit of an antihero at times. A little bit of an antihero at times. And then sometimes he’s not a hero at all. I like everything about him.

So you admire the ambiguity of his personality.
DANIEL: [Laughs] I do.

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.