Bill Pullman Interview: ‘The Sinner’
“Are we really living in the moment?” muses SAG Awards nominee Bill Pullman about one of the central themes contemplated by the third season of USA Network’s anthology crime drama “The Sinner.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Pullman above.
In “The Sinner,” Pullman stars as Detective Harry Ambrose, who investigates bizarre murder cases over season-long arcs from a uniquely empathetic point of view. Harry’s tortured past and emotional baggage weigh on him heavily as he identifies and uncovers the psychology that drives and motivates a killer’s actions.
The show premiered in 2017, centering on a troubled mother (Emmy nominee and executive producer Jessica Biel) who snaps and murders a man without provocation. After proving to be a hit, it shifted from a limited series to a drama series when USA Network renewed the show for a second and third season. The second season focused on a 13 year-old boy (Elisha Henig) who confesses to brutally poisoning a man and woman. Last season, Pullman returned opposite Emmy nominee Matt Bomer as Jamie Burns, a local high school teacher involved in a horrific car crash. Afterwards, the two leading men inevitably cross paths as Ambrose uncovers a hidden crime that pulls him into the most dangerous and disturbing case of his career. Meanwhile, Burns spirals out of control when his desperation for human connection manifests itself into an explosive rage that has terrifying and tragic consequences.
“What does fear have to do with us living in our own little silos and not really experiencing life?” Pullman asks. “Ambrose is always wrestling with this kind of thing. He’s feeling compartmentalized, he knows his left hand doesn’t always admit what his right hand is doing, he’s not been successful in relationships and then into his life comes this person who Matt Bomer plays, who really asks those same kind of questions that he’s been silently thinking to himself.”
In addition to covering themes like isolation, connection, grief and trauma, the show also explored how society interprets masculinity as a concept, specifically how men are expected to behave and the platonic relationships men have with each other. It was an idea that Pullman says was a way in to better understanding the two main characters this season. “That sense of who you are as a human being, as a male and what really has defined you, some of it is through your relationship with your father, some of it’s relationships to brothers,” he explains. “But those fundamental relationships can also be inhibitors to relating to men. So in some kind of way you can feel seen by someone truthfully.”