I recently got the chance to participate in an interview with Maria Bello from Prime Suspect, and she was funny, endearing, and amusing. She discussed how she feels about her character’s strength, favorite moments of taping, and so much more.
If you haven’t heard of or seen the show yet, here’s the description from NBC: “Based on the critically acclaimed British television series of the same name & redeveloped for American audiences, Prime Suspect takes a look inside a New York City homicide department. The series stars Maria Bello (A History of Violence) as tough-as-nails NYPD Homicide Detective Jane Timoney, an outsider who has just transferred to a new squad, where her new colleagues already dislike her. Jane is confident and focused—and also rude, abrupt, and occasionally reckless. She has her vices, and rumors of a questionable past follow her everywhere, but at the end of the day, she’s an instinctively brilliant cop who can’t be distracted from the only important thing: the prime suspect.
Also starring are Aidan Quinn (Unknown) as Lt. Kevin Sweeney, Brían F. O’Byrne (Flash Forward) as Det. Reg Duffy, Tim Griffin (Star Trek) as Det. Augie Blando, Kirk Acevedo (Fringe) as Det. Luisito Calderon, Damon Gupton (The Last Airbender) as Det. Evrard Velerio, and Peter Gerety (Blue Bloods) as Jane’s father, Desmond Timoney.”
Jump with me to read the interview with Maria.
On playing a strong female and the importance of roles like this one
Maria Bello: I don’t – honestly, I don’t even see them as strong female characters. I see them as characters, you know? I don’t know any females that aren’t strong, if you understand what I’m saying. That I think that there’s a lot of times women have been written in the past in our media on television and film as not fully formed human beings and women that we are.
So I’m proud to play parts, particularly this part, that shows a woman—a real woman—who is complicated and interesting and vulnerable and strong all at the same time, like the women that I know and love.
On her favorite moment from taping
Maria: Oh gosh. I have so many favorite moments every single day, I feel like I have the best job in the world. And, you know, every day there’s a gorgeous moment. But it was pretty fun in the pilot episode where I’m getting a – where I’m getting beat up.
We were shooting at night and at one point my head smashed against the sidewalk. And the crew kind of cringed. But we didn’t stop shooting. And Pete Berg ran up to me afterwards. He said, “Oh my gosh, I know you hit your head but it was – looked so great. That’s the take we’re using.”
And we all had a laugh about it and it actually is the take we used and it looks terrific, I think.
On whether or not sexism still exists in today’s police force like we see it in the show
Maria: What’s interesting is talking to women in all spectrums of business—not just being a cop. Every woman that I know has experienced some sort of sexism. Probably not as overt, but there’s a – an underlying sexism which sometimes still exists. And so I don’t think that it’s odd that it would be happening in a police department, to be quite honest.
I also think that the sexism, there’s another facet to it, which Jane is experiencing, which is these guys are under the impression that she slept with the chief of police to get ahead. And she also has a very particular personality, Jane. Some people are going to like her and some people are not going to like her.
So that’s part of it, as well. Not just because she’s a woman, but because they have this idea about her and because she’s not nicey-nice all the time. She doesn’t play nice or try to get people to like her.
On what drew her to this character
Maria: I loved that she had such a great sense of humor and her own style and her own humor and her own way of talking and she – it was written on the page just so singular. And I found that interesting, and more and more as the series goes on, she, you know, gets funnier and funnier and so that I laugh out loud and people laugh out loud during some of the things she says.
She can’t—as I was saying before—Jane can’t help but to be herself. And herself is becoming more and more clear as the series goes on.
On where she sees her character going
Maria: I can’t even think that far ahead, to be quite honest, because I’m so overwhelmed with script after script. I know every script that they’ve given me thus far is more and more complicated in terms of Jane’s complexity, her inner life, her life with her family, her life with her colleagues, and the cases. And that makes me happy in terms of what else is going to happen—I have no idea. I’m as surprised as you are every week.
That’s all for this interview, but be sure to tune in to Prime Suspect Thursday nights at 10/9c on NBC.