Lili Taylor Q&A: ‘American Crime’
“She’s trapped by her psychology, trapped by her marriage, trapped by her denial. And she doesn’t see a way out” reveals Lili Taylor during our recent webcam chat (watch the exclusive video above) about her character on “American Crime,” which concluded its third season this weekend. The three-time Emmy nominee talks candidly about playing an emotionally starved housewife struggling in a bitterly broken marriage, and how her story ties in with the overarching themes of the season. “It’s about a very toxic relationship that doesn’t live in a vacuum; that has consequences. And that leaks out to other people,” the actress explains. “It’s about what happens when we make these unethical moral decisions and how that impacts others.”
“American Crime” is an anthology series that sheds light on different “ripped from the headlines” issues each season. Season one dealt with violent crime, racial prejudice and drug addiction. Last season tackled socio-economic disadvantage and violence against LBGT people with its story of a rape investigation involving two high school boys. This season the show’s creator, Oscar-winning writer John Ridley (“12 Years a Slave”) focuses on immigration, human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
It was played to particular effect in Taylor’s storyline, as her character decides to hire a deeply troubled Haitian nanny (played by Mickaelle X. Bizet) to help look after her young son. As her marriage is imploding, her nanny begins to show signs of the deep trauma and desperation that she is suffering with.
One constant throughout each season is the signature way in which many scenes are shot: the camera lingers on actors even when they are not speaking or even the main focus of the scene. Taylor is a fan of this style. “The producers around John trust him, and so they take those risks, and I think a lot of that extra coverage comes from fear,” the actress suggests. “So take risks! That’s the message.”
Each season of “American Crime” uses many of the same actors. Taylor’s screen time was more limited this year, so she is being submitted as a supporting actress this time after garnering a lead actress Emmy bid last year. Taylor was thrilled to receive the recognition. “It was really nice to get nominated. Any time you get reflected back by your people for the work you do, c’mon, it’s a great thing! It feels fantastic.”
Asked if she would likely return for a fourth season, Taylor doesn’t hesitate. “This is one of my favorite jobs. … It’s deep, it resonates with people, its beautiful, emotional and complex relationships, it has everything I want. And real collaboration. … I’d be down in two seconds. I’d do anything John asked me to do.”