Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.
In this week’s episode, Variety’s managing editor of TV Cynthia Littleton talks with Jessica Biel, the star and executive producer of USA Network’s “The Sinner.” Biel is Emmy-nominated for lead actress in a limited series for her portrayal of a traumatized woman, Cora Tannetti, who commits a shocking murder.
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“The Sinner” marked Biel’s first major achievement as a producer after launching her Iron Ocean Films banner with partner Michelle Purple. Biel got the motivation to assemble her own projects the old-fashioned way — out of frustration with the lack of meaty roles that were coming her way. She was also concerned about being typecast as an actress thanks to her formative years on the WB Network drama “7th Heaven.”
“The Sinner” experience adds Biel to the growing list of actresses who are using their star power to leverage new clout as producers and packagers of strong material. There’s too much happening out there to sit around and wait for the phone to ring, she says.
The role of Cora proved a physical and emotional roller-coaster for Biel. The character is triggered to commit a freak murder, which leads into an unraveling of past traumas ranging from sexual abuse to being held hostage for years before she became a wife and mother. Biel did a lot of research on the issue of post traumatic stress disorder and related conditions. But the most important factor in bringing the character’s pain to life was for her to look inward.
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