Brooke Smith added another memorable role to her resume with the new ABC drama “Big Sky.” The actress plays Merrilee Legarski, a woman who gradually discovers her state trooper husband has monstrous predilections. She is also seduced by her husband’s accomplice, stemming from her own loneliness. “Hell of a taste in men she has,” quips Smith in an exclusive video interview for Gold Derby. “I guess you go with what you’ve got.” Watch the full webchat above.
While Merrilee might have rotten luck in her love life, Smith resonated with her character’s innermost motivations. Filming in Vancouver away from her family in the middle of a pandemic was an isolating experience, and like Merrilee, Smith was missing those to which she was closest. “I felt that there was a parallel in that Merrilee, she just wants connection,” explains Smith. “She wants her husband to be able to look her in the eye. She knows something’s up. She’s a very instinctual person. She believes in love and she wants connection.”
Merrilee may be in the dark in the early part of the season, but her eyes are wide open by Episode 9. Aware that her husband wanted to kill her with a hammer, she decides to turn the tables on him by attacking him in his hospital bed. The scene is one of Smith’s most significant showcases of the season, in which the audience isn’t quite sure what Merrilee is up to until she does it. Smith recalls fretting over how to perform the scene but ultimately landed on what Merrilee is going through in her mind. “I decided that maybe she still didn’t know exactly what she was gonna do and that’s how I played it,” says Smith. “She was gonna go in there and she was just gonna give him opportunities to come clean and be honest and he just didn’t do that.”
Smith is now putting herself out there for Emmy consideration, creating her own grassroots campaign rather than relying on pricey publicists and ads. “I’m just proud of the work,” she explains, adding, “These campaigns are very expensive. I don’t know what people think character actors make but I don’t think it is what they think it is.” As a consistently working actor, Smith is always interested in challenging herself creatively, taking on varying roles over the years, from “The Silence of the Lambs” to “Vanya on 42nd Street” to “Grey’s Anatomy” to “Big Sky.” “I love doing things that I think I can’t do,” she admits. “I’m open to anything and I like to push myself.”
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