Exclusive: BREAKOUT KINGS’ Brooke Nevin Interview

Brooke Nevin

Brooke Nevin has appeared in many cool shows over the last few years. From NCIS and Grey’s Anatomy to The League and How I Met Your Mother, she has definitely made her mark. Now she’s starring on A&E’s new hit crime drama BREAKOUT KINGS as Julianne Simms, the civilian information specialist who helps the marshals and cons catch fugitives while dealing with some serious anxiety.

Daemon’s TV talked to Brooke about how she prepared to play Julianne, what we can expect Julianne to face as the Breakout Kings season progresses, and about her other show, the dark comedy Call Me Fitz, which comes to DirecTV April 21.

Well, it looks like ‘Breakout Kings’ is a hit, so congratulations.

Brooke Nevin: We’re really excited and happy that it’s found a great audience already. I can’t wait to see how the series plays out and how many mor eviewers we can pick up. T-Bag comes on next week, so that’ll be great for all the ‘Prison Break’ fans.

Julianne so far is fascinating: mostly closed in but with so much anxiety inside. How is that for you to play?

Brooke Nevin: It’s so interesting because I don’t necessarily consider myself an anxious person, and I ended up doing quite a bit of research actually on social anxiety disorder which is what the writer said that basically she had.

I talked to a lot of the psychologists and I actually watched a lot of A&E’s ‘Obsessed’. Everyone on that show has some sort of obsessive compulsive affliction or anxiety disorder. What was really interesting about doing that show and doing my research is that when people have anxiety disorders they come out either in really obvious ways or in ways that people around them wouldn’t even fathom what they’re going through.

I sort of chose to go the more subtle route where with the trick of the camera we can sort of lead the audience to where her mindset is, but not so much that even people on our own task force necessarily know what’s going on with her. Like, Laz Alonso’s character, Charlie, doesn’t necessarily know that she’s afflicted with this extra challenge while she’s doing her job. Whereas Ray, Domenick Lombardozzi’s character, has a history with Julianne and is there as protective support as well.

How much of her backstory are we going to get as we go forward?

Brooke Nevin: Well, the writers, Matt [Olmstead] and Nick [Santora] do a great job of trickling out pieces of information and backstories about not only the characters, but also their families throughout the season. There are pivotal moments for each character as the episodes go along.

I think that Julianne will still remain a little bit of a mystery in season one. We’ll understand what her most recent history is and that she’s had to overcome a lot to get back onto the task force, but I think that they do a great job of leaving a dot, dot, dot in terms of where Julianne could end up next.

Charlie was almost dismissive of Julianne in the last episode, but I don’t know how much that actually has to do with Julianne given his tug of war with Ray.

Brooke Nevin: I think you’ve actually hit it exactly on the head. With this task force and this unconventional team that’s been put together, you’ve got a lot of tension that arises and a lot of power struggles. So, even intentions are loaded with all sorts of ulterior motives or characters sort of puffing up their chests and these authority challenges. So when Charlie has this issue with Ray and about them picking the team, he is ragging on Julianne, but I don’t know that it’s necessarily just connected to her work performance. There’s a lot at play.

There are interesting interactions between all the characters. Julianne and Erica have had a moment, talking about keeping control. Julianne and Lloyd have certainly had some interesting interactions. How is that going to develop going forward?

Brooke Nevin: Well, I think because you’ve got two groups of characters, one group is on one side of the law and one is on the other side of the law. They’re all sort of forced to work together and because of the division of the authority between one half and the other half of the team they’re not like a regular procedural crime drama team that’s in lockstep and have a certain rhythm. Each episode, that questioning of authority is sometimes going to lead to these clashes that can range from playful to full on explosive. That’s going to be something that’s interesting to watch as the season progresses and you see even alliances that are created between some of the characters.

Is Julianne always going to be in the bullpen or will we see her get out in the field at some point?

Brooke Nevin: She certainly holds down the fort, but there are going to be a couple of instances where she’s actually forced to leave the bullpen and that in itself is a huge challenge for her.

We’ll see in one episode that she’s faced with making a decision that could put possibly an innocent man behind bars. So she makes a sacrifice, I guess, of her own anxiety issues in order to do what she feels is right. So that’ll be an interesting mini-journey that she goes on in one episode. We’ll also come to find out that you don’t want to make Julianne mad and if you come between her and the information that she needs to get her job done she’s going to do whatever she needs to get it.

Are we going to see her grow in confidence as we move through the season?

Brooke Nevin: Yes. We will actually come to see her, I guess, standing up to some of the characters especially when it comes to putting her own job in jeopardy. Being on this task force for Julianne is a second chance of sorts and she doesn’t want to let that opportunity pass her by. If it means having a moment with Shea Daniels (Malcolm Goodwin) and standing up to a con then she’s not going to hold herself back from doing that.

We also see her and Lloyd end up spending some more time alone in the bullpen. So we’re going to see some interesting chemistry and some nice moments between the two of them as the series evolves.

What can you tease about T-Bag’s visit?

Brooke Nevin: I can say that T-Bag is certainly one of our most formidable and dangerous criminals that escapes on our show. He will not disappoint. It is a high octane, really full on chase to catch T-Bag. It makes for some exciting TV watching.

You have another show, too. ‘Call Me Fitz’ airs on HBO Canada and is coming to DirecTV. I’ve heard great things about it.

Brooke Nevin: It premieres at the end of April, yeah. I’m really excited about that show, too, because for one thing it’s probably a one hundred and eighty degree spin from the character that I play on ‘Breakout Kings’. I don’t know if you’ve seen any clips from the show –

It looks hilarious.

Brooke Nevin: I can attest to its hilarity. It’s kind of this dark comedy with these deliciously dysfunctional characters and every episode follows Jason Priestley as this used car salesman and his sort of failed attempts at redemption led by his inner conscience that reveals itself as a six foot three Larry (Ernie Grunwald) whom he’s forced to work with now at the dealership. I play Sonja who is the secretary. Somehow it’s me doing a lot of typing. I’m the information and secretary type.

And redemption.

Brooke Nevin: Typing and redemption. Sometimes redemption is apparently supposed to be found in the backseat of a used car.

A film you did called ‘My Suicide’ was a huge hit on the festival circuit in ’09. Now it’s going to be able to be seen by the rest of us?

Brooke Nevin: Yes. ‘My Suicide’ is sort of a coming of age teen dramedy. It’s a film that’s really important to me and whenever especially young people see it, it strikes a strong chord, of course because we touch upon a lot of teen issues, but especially suicide.

It has a lot of great, amazing actors in it including Mariel Hemingway who of course has this issue close to her heart. Harry Shearer, and of course Gabriel Sunday, who plays Archie and is amazing. It’s a film that takes in all of the elements of our 21st century, what it’s like to grow up as a teen now and there’s some really amazing editing and soundtrack and storytelling that’s really compelling and also at times humorous. It’s been a wonderful journey to see this film be seen really all over the world, and hopefully by more people here in America and in Canada, too.

It’s been on my radar for a while, but I haven’t been able to get to a festival to see it.

Brooke Nevin: The latest word is that Big Air Studios is going to be distributing it in May and it’s a multi-platform distribution where Netflix has already bought it and it’ll be in theaters across the country and hopefully even on On Demand. They’re trying to make it as accessible to as many people as possible which I think is really important since we have such a strong and solid message to get across.

Breakout Kings airs on A&E Sundays at 10pm eastern/9 central.

You can read all our Breakout Kings coverage here.

Call Me Fitz premieres on DirecTV’s The 101 Network Thursday, April 21 at 9pm eastern/8 central.

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