I first saw Maria Bello on ER. She got out right before all the stabbing started. Now of course we know her from movies like A History of Violence, The Cooler and Payback. Bello returns to TV for Prime Suspect, playing a New York version of the role Helen Mirren originated. At the Television Critics Association panel and a subsequent conference call, I got to ask Bello a few questions about coming back to prime time.
CraveOnline: You’ve done really intense movies. Does an ongoing TV series stay with you?
Maria Bello: I don’t really take my work home with me to be honest. No, I think I have a lot of the same characteristics as Jane in a lot of ways. It’s really playful, even when we’re doing really dramatic stuff on the set, it feels like you’re in a sandbox playing with a great group of kids.
CraveOnline: Didn’t A History of Violence stay with you? Is there anything that intense on Prime Suspect?
Maria Bello: The episode we’re doing this week, I’m not going to spoil it, I don’t want to say, but it’s kind of devastating to hear what this woman has to say and to see what she’s been through. How could you not be affected by that?
CraveOnline: You were on ER, which was such a well oiled machine. How different is doing a crime show?
Maria Bello: For me, this is more of a character as opposed to ER where we were all playing doctors. We’re all detectives, police people but she’s such a distinct character so even during the procedurals she has a lot of fun stuff to do.
CraveOnline: Was it important to you that this be Prime Suspect as opposed to any other police show?
Maria Bello: I didn’t really care what the title was. When I read it, I’d like to say that Alex [Cunningham] and I are Jane together. It was such incredible writing and I hadn’t read a woman like this on television before who was as complex and strong and quirky and self-possessed and just knew I wanted to do the show. It could’ve been called Our Little Place, I don’t know.
CraveOnline: In the pilot she lets a kid play with her gun and brings a news crew to a witness. What other unorthodox methods does she use in upcoming episodes?
Maria Bello: I think Jane is strategic about being manipulative. Every suspect she talks to, she is being strategic psychologically and trying to find the “in” that would work with them to get information from them.
Photo credit – NBC