FOREVER: Hilarie Burton on Getting 'Dared' to Play a Dominatrix - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

FOREVER: Hilarie Burton on Getting ‘Dared’ to Play a Dominatrix

November 11, 2014 by  

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FOREVER just nabbed a full season pickup, and after a week off due to election coverage, the drama is back with a brand new episode…and Henry and Jo find themselves crossing paths with a “domination therapist.”

Hilarie Burton (who starred on ONE TREE HILL before landing arcs on WHITE COLLAR, GREY’S ANATOMY, HOSTAGES, and more) is guest-starring in the hour as Iona Payne, the dominatrix in question, and we spoke her getting “dared” to take on the roe, the layers the writers gave her character, the song she used to get into the mindset to film the spot, and which FOREVER guest star she regrets not crossing paths with…

This is certainly a character that could have made some actresses back down. What made you want to play Iona Payne?
Hilarie Burton: [Laughs] Well, the invitation to play the character came from a good friend of mine, a director, I worked with on ONE TREE HILL and then again on WHITE COLLAR, and he’s a producer on this show now — his name is John Kretchmer. He’s one of those people you work with who is such a gentleman. I respect him so much, and I trust him so much, and he kind of dared me to do it. And I’m always up for a dare. He sent me a script, and I went, well, this is different. And I like different. It scared me a little. And things that scare me, I’m naturally drawn to. It could have gone much darker, but what I like about her is she really does want to help people. There’s a sincerity behind her occupation.

Did you have to get into a different acting head space to play a dominatrix?
HB: [Laughs] Yeah! Yeah, I did. I live on a farm now, a few hours outside of the city. So my life right now is so vastly different than any other time in my life where I’ve worked in the entertainment industry. And so I was driving back and forth between my farm and my city to go to work, and I decided, I’m going to listen to some pop music, because country music is really not getting me into the head space to do this. And I hadn’t heard that “Bang Bang” song the girls are singing these days, so that was my “I own the pain” anthem. That was what I had running through my head. It’s just so different from my life. But it was fun; a fun little experiment.

Given the machines and tools she had at her disposal, what kind of technical prep did you go through?
HB: [Jokes] No, no, just personal experience. [Laughs] That is a joke. It was so funny doing this part, because they’d ask me, “Do you want a consultant? Do you want this? Do you want that?” And I was like, “No, let me see what happens.” And then they wouldn’t give me notes, and they were like, that’s the right way to do it, that’s when I started to get self-conscious. [I was thinking,] “Do these people think I actually know what I’m doing? That’s terrifying!” Because I don’t! I’m a prude. But everyone was very helpful. It was a good experience.

Maybe I’ll just polarize the audience: we’ll see who’s into the naughty stuff by who judges my maneuvers.

You had a really fun chemistry with Ioan Gruffudd (Henry). Did you know each other outside of the show, or did you do any kind of prep to make sure the relationship translated the way you wanted it to?
HB: No, I think we got along really well because he is a devoted husband and father; he talks about his girls and his wife nonstop. And my husband is off working, so I know what it’s like to be separated for a while due to work, and it’s not fun. And we were very sympathetic to each other. And he’s a gentleman, he’s a lovely person to work with. And he was very generous as a performer. He’s great, he’s really great.

Same thing for Alana [De La Garza (Jo)]. Boy, I like her a lot. She is a girl’s girl, and made me feel so comfortable. That’s a weird thing to come in and be the girl, like, “Okay, I’m going to walk around in my underwear [in these scenes].” And she was so lovely about just taking me under her wing. I’m grateful for it.

Viewers are often trained with procedurals to suspect the recognizable guest stars as the guilty party in the case of the week. Whether that’s the case here or not, when you agreed to take the role, did you know at that point whether she would be guilty or not?
HB: With this show, you don’t know! You don’t know whether the guest star is going to be the dead body; you don’t know if the guest star is going to be the killer; you don’t know if the guest star is just going to be the distraction from what’s really going on. I think they do a really good job of switching things up on the show. And I didn’t know going in what my end result would be as the character. But I like these characters where you get to peel away at the layers. I got to do that on CASTLE, I got to do it on HOSTAGES. I’ve gotten to do it on some really fun shows.

You mentioned a couple of your more recent guest spots — what has to be there to take on a guest role these days?
HB: You know what, it’s case-by-case. It’s usually dependent on whether a friend brings me into the fold. A friend brought me on to CASTLE, a director, Tom [J.] Wright, whom I love a lot. My friend John Kretchmer brought me on to this. I like working with people I know and trust; that’s fun for me. If I’m going to be away from my son for a couple of days, I want to be with people I know and respect.

So I’ve gotten lucky — very lucky — that the people I’ve worked with in the past think to call me up. That’s the greatest compliment you can give an actor: to call them up out of the blue and say, “Hey, I thought of you.” So I’ve been very fortunate that that’s been my experience so far. I’m always up for a dare or challenge. If it’s different from my every day life, I’ll probably be curious about it.

I know your storylines didn’t intersect, but did you get to meet fellow guest star Jane Seymour?
HB: Oh my God, I wish! Dr. Quinn, are you kidding me?! Listen, I still wear prairie skirts because of that lady. But no, unfortunately I didn’t get to meet her or Judd Hirsch (Abe). But I’m just as excited about watching the episode as everyone else, because I think she’s dynamite.

It’s sad you didn’t see her in the makeup trailer!
HB: I KNOW! Maybe I’ll just stalk her now. Be that kid that follows her around: “Hey! Hey, hey! We once did a TV show together!” [Laughs]

Well, you do have your in now…
HB: You’re totally right, I have my in! I’ve been looking for it for 20 years, and I have it now! That’s incredible.

Is there any chance you might pop back again on FOREVER?
HB: Ooh, that would be fun, wouldn’t it? The episode hasn’t aired yet, so you never know. I’d be game. I had a lot of fun with this bunch. Crew members I’ve worked with before on various shows in New York, and it’s a cast I have a lot of respect for, and the bosses on this show were very, very kind to me. So it was a positive experience. But you never know. You never know…until you’re on that slab in the morgue, there’s always that chance. [Laughs]

I think the character was well-rounded, I think she was well-written. I’m grateful that the writers chose the path they chose versus just the easy chick in her underwear. They gave her a lot of layers, and she’d be somebody I’d be more than happy to revisit.

FOREVER airs Tuesdays at 10 PM on ABC.

Related:

FOREVER Gets a Full First Season
FOREVER Nabs THE GOOD WIFE Guest Stars for ‘The Man in the Killer Suit’
FOREVER: Ioan Gruffudd on Jo’s Influence on Henry, What He Knows About the Show’s Big Mysteries
FOREVER: Matt Miller on the Henry’s Big Mystery, and When We’ll See the Anonymous Caller Again

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