Actress Brooke Lyons, of the thrilling and chilling NBC series Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector, has the singular ability to make us feel like long-time pals, although when we spoke on the phone recently, it was the first time speaking with each other. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that she is pregnant with her second child, or the fact that she is participating in the interview from New York, and has recently wrapped on filming for the series. Maybe it’s because she’s just a really cool, down-to-earth person. In any case, Kate, her character on the new series, will soon receive her own special episode to dive a bit into her backstory, and Brief Take was on the case to see what Brooke Lyons had to say about the episode and the show as a whole.
The following is a condensed and edited version of our talk with the extremely compelling Brooke Lyons.
Brief Take: You have a very important episode coming up on this series. Would you like to preview it for us a little bit?
Brooke Lyons: Episode four, which is coming up, is really exciting because most often when you see Kate, my character, in the lab, she’s doing her work inside. And in episode four, she gets to go outside into the field for the first time, because what happens in the episode is that there’s a murder in the university’s forensic research facility, which of course is Kate’s old stomping ground, and what might seem pretty scary and macabre to others is Kate’s comfort zone. That’s where she learned everything she knows and she jumps at the opportunity and we get to kind of see her in her element.
BT: What has shooting the series in the Meadowlands been like for you, as well as shooting in New York and around New Jersey?
BL: It’s been really interesting. We shot the pilot in Greenpoint (Brooklyn) and in and around New York, and when the series got picked up, we moved over to the Meadowlands, as you said. I didn’t know what to expect. Actually last summer, before I travelled here, I was Googling it to see what it would look like and there’s some great articles in Architectural Digest and The New York Times about how NBC has been so creative as far as converting the site into a tv studio. And it’s been great, we love working in New Jersey. These sets that they built are really beautiful and we may be stuck inside the city, but we cheat a lot for locations in and around New Jersey, for New York, where the show is set. So that’s been great.
BT: You live in Los Angeles, your show shoots in New Jersey and New York, so I’m curious to know your answer to this question: West coast or East coast?
BL: Oh my Gosh! Well, I’m from the East coast, originally, I’m from Connecticut. So it’s pretty wonderful to be back here and have seasons and be close to my family again is such an added bonus of doing this show.
BT: Speaking of the pilot… Episode one – no glasses. Episode two – great pair of glasses. How did Kate pick up such awesome frames in between episodes?
BL: That’s a great question! You know it’s always interesting to go from pilot to series, because in shooting a pilot, you’re putting all the pieces together for the very first time and all of the different departments are meeting and we are seeing the story that is in all of our minds physically come to life before us for the very first time. And it happens pretty fast. And then once we go to series, we’ve had time to gestate a little bit more, and during the pilot, it was a discussion: does this person wear glasses? Until we decided: No, maybe not. And then when we came back, there were some different people on the team. Our costume designer, Melissa Vargas is absolutely wonderful and one of the most thoughtful costume designers with whom I have ever had the pleasure to work. And her instinct was: Yes! Glasses are key. And that was my instinct as well, so it happened organically and it’s pretty nice.
BT: Are they real glasses with frames and glass so you can see through them?
BL: The glass is there, it’s real glass, but it’s not prescription glass. They’re not real glasses, which is funny because I, Brooke, wear real glasses. I have a pretty strong prescription in real life. [chuckles]
BT: The use of technology on the series is really fascinating. What has that been like for you to play around with it a little?
BL: That’s been a really unique opportunity creatively and we all talk about it, as actors, how it’s been a new challenge and a welcome challenge. Because, of course, Lincoln is largely in the apartment, which we then convert into a working space and we have this screen that you see come down so we can watch the action happening out in the field, with Emilia (Arielle Kebbel) and Sellito (Michael Imperioli) and Castillo (Ramses Jimenez) and so forth. And as an actor, that was really interesting because oftentimes what we are looking at is transparent glass. We read the script, we know what’s happening and can often build in the stakes and the reactions, but working with that technology, we don’t know until what we see on television what we’re acting opposite because maybe they haven’t shot their piece of it yet, or we certainly haven’t seen what they’ve been doing in the field. So that was an interesting thing to negotiate.
BT: I enjoyed speaking with your fellow cast member Arielle Kebbel, and this cast seems to get along really well. What has that been like for you?
BL: We’ve been really fortunate. You know when you’re casting a show, you don’t necessarily know with whom you are going to be working, and this case, we were all put into this situation together and I don’t believe that anyone had met prior to filming the pilot. So as in any relationship, it’s like walking into a room for the first time meeting someone and you’re not sure whether or not there will be chemistry there, that elusive element of chemistry. And we really lucked out with this show because everybody gets along. Everybody is super passionate about the work, about what they do, incredibly generous- both in the scenes, as actors and off camera. Everybody’s really supportive of each other and that environment lends itself to a very pleasant working experience, especially with such dark material, because you do need people with whom you can joke around and trust to sell those serious moments, but also to laugh, to make sure that you’re having fun at work. And Arielle is just the best, they all are as well.
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Isn’t our prom pic so cute? Kidding. This is us solving a very serious crime. In the woods. This Friday. On an all new #LincolnRhyme. GET READY. #AmeliaSachs #Kate #TheBoneCollector #HuntfortheBoneCollector #forensics #bodyfarm #bts #whoruntheworld #girlpower #dreamteam #wcw
BT: You had an NBC midseason party at 30 Rock. Was that like a wrap party for you as this show recently finished filming?
BL: You know it wasn’t intended to be, the timing kind of worked out that way. So it was pretty great! That was on Thursday night, so that was a very emotional week, because we were there with everybody else celebrating and we knew that our last day of filming was the following day, which was pretty surreal. You know you invest so heavily in these characters and storylines, to step away is a huge adjustment.
BT: What has it been like to be a part of the NBC family, featuring fantastic people on great shows such as Manifest, The Blacklist, and New Amsterdam?
BL: It’s been absolutely wonderful. And I can tell you, just as a viewer, on a personal level, being obsessed with all of NBC’s content. I don’t even know where to begin, but the things that come to mind are Law and Order: SVU and Will & Grace and the more recent stuff I am loving- This is Us, it’s really exciting to go and meet the fans and to see people from shows that you’ve watched and admired. I think that they do such a beautiful job with their programming and it’s been a pleasure to be part of that.
BT: Which shows, of those you’ve starred in, have been a key part of your journey to get to this point?
BL: Oh my gosh, well I loved Life Sentence, that was really such a fun show to do and I loved living in Vancouver and also, there was a really special group of people out there on that show (Lucy Hale, Carlos PenaVega, Dylan Walsh). The Affair is for sure one of my all-time favourites, I played Eden in season two and five, and in fact, when I was interviewed for season two, I didn’t anticipate my storyline coming back, so that was a really exciting part of this past year when I got the call that my character was coming back for a storyline in the final season. It was interesting to see how they did that narratively and to be a part of that new storyline, the writing on that show is spectacular and it was such a pleasure to show.
BT: When I watched a previous interview of yours, you described acting as “telling the truth” and “filling the well” and that you didn’t want to take on roles that were described as the ‘wife’ or ‘girlfriend’. How has this show been a part of that search for the truth?
BL: Ah! Well to be clear, wife and girlfriend roles are great if they’re richly imagined and they are realistic, complex women. I think that’s great and I am all about exploring those relationships. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, they’re not. And I’ve had the opportunity to play some great ones of those, but getting to your question, in this role in particular, I’ve been excited that Kate is most driven by her compulsion to solve crime. She has this mind that is passionate, it’s obsessive, and just by the very nature of what she does, you have to wonder: Who is this person? What is her backstory? Why did she do this kind of work? This is very high-stakes, dangerous, specific work. And it’s been so interesting delving in why somebody would end up doing or choosing to do this job.
BT: Are you this compulsive in any way in your own life?
BL: Oooh! I definitely [chuckles] have obsessive tendencies. I tend to go full tilt with whatever I am doing. But I’ve mellowed a bit as I’ve grown up and as I’ve become a mother that has tempered my excessive nature. Because you can certainly focus and laser in on one thing, which is good, because there’s always this little tiny person there to anchor you and to temper your timing measurement so that’s changed me a little bit.
BT: You said that you recently watched Succession and you talked about all the shows you watched on Netflix to prep for this role. What else have you seen lately that you’ve enjoyed?
BL: Oh my gosh, I would say that I’m all over the place as a viewer, but in a good way! I genuinely love television. Especially in this era of having so many platforms and outlets, I think it’s this golden era of television in which you’re seeing people take big swings and take chances and have these really epic filmic shows. I watch everything from drama to comedy to mostly scripted, but I just finished Don’t F(uck) with Cats on Netflix which was chilling. And illuminating. I don’t know if you’ve checked that out yet.
BT: How have you enjoyed the Hulu audience coming to this series as well?
BL: That’s been exciting because as you know, we’re talking about the different platforms. People are consuming media in different ways and on different timelines. Like if a show is airing on a network at a different day and time, a lot of people will watch it in real time and that’s fantastic, but a lot of people don’t. I know a lot of younger people, especially, don’t even have cable and watch their programming through other channels, but to have a Hulu platform for them to watch it has been exciting because it’s very inclusive. It allows more people to partake in the story, and that’s been really cool to see.
BT: You could really tell more stories on this show in a season 2.
BL: Oh yeah! For Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector, oh yes! What’s so exciting about it is that it’s based on the first of 14 books. The Bone Collector is the first serial killer of many in the books that Jeffery Deaver has written. So by the end…I won’t say what happens, but we are poised to continue solving crimes as an elite task force and we will see what happens from there.
Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collectors airs on Fridays at 8/7c on NBC and Citytv