The Catch premieres Thursday, March 24 at 10/9CT on ABC.
Shonda Rhimes — TV’s own Queen Midas — has made primetime empresses of Ellen Pompeo, Kerry Washington and Viola Davis via her ABC Thursday night trifecta Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder.
Now, it’s time to welcome a new lady to the ShondaLand court. Mireille Enos — the stunning Texas redhead with the very French first name (say “Mee-RAY”) — plays savvy private investigator Alice Vaughan in The Catch, which takes over HTGAWM’s time slot this month.
“Everybody around me was like, ‘You understand what’s happening to you right now, right?’” laughs Enos, a 2011 Emmy nominee for her role as troubled detective Sarah Linden in AMC’s The Killing. “I’ve gotten to play lots of different roles, but nobody’s ever asked me to do that — be super-gorgeous, super-professional, put together, flawless, but then also kind of an antihero, too. When this phone call came my way, I was a little bit speechless!”
The series, which was slated for a fall 2015 premiere, underwent a major overhaul when original showrunners Jennifer Schuur and Josh Reims exited the production over creative differences with the network and Rhimes’ team.
The pair had envisioned the story of a glamorous and seductive forensic accountant whose own secrets are threatened when her bank account is emptied by the man she planned to marry. “We shot an entire pilot in the spring of last year — and it was a wonderful pilot,” Enos says. “It was very well done, and very well-received, and the show was picked up. Then, in writing that version of the story, they kept hitting walls.”
Longtime Rhimes collaborator Allan Heinberg, a former executive producer of both Scandal and Grey’s, took over as showrunner. He revamped the pilot, refined the cast and called his actors back to set in December.
“We shot a completely new pilot and now we’re off to the races doing that version of the story, which is — I almost said, ‘It’s catchier,’” Enos laughs. “But it’s sexier, it’s a little quicker, it’s a little shinier. I prefer it. We’re in the middle of shooting the second episode now and we’re definitely all trying to figure out what this specific animal is. What IS The Catch? It walks this line between being Romeo and Juliet and being James Bond and being The Thomas Crown Affair and being comedy and being dark drama — and how much can we push those boundaries. It’s so fun!”
Instead of solely tracking financial wrongdoers, Vaughan is now L.A.’s premier private investigator, which, Enos says, allows the writing team infinite latitude in the “case of the week” element of the show.
“It’s more sexy — it’s more interesting than escrow — so that was a great change,” Enos says. “And in the old pilot, Alice had a lot of secrets from her past that she was running from. She had reinvented herself and then she gets conned. She’s looking for her fiancé and other people are looking for her. It created a dynamic where that character had to be very private, always hiding. Allan’s feeling was that it made her unknowable and difficult to love.”
In Heinberg’s version, Alice is a classic Shonda heroine — smart, professionally adept, sophisticated but accessible, and chock full of human frailties.
“She’s just a girl on the planet,” Enos explains. “She’s good at what she does, she fell in love with someone, she was getting married — and then this terrible thing happened. All of the secrets are coming in the future. The choices that she makes while she’s looking for Peter’s character and when they become re-entangled, there are things that she’s going to have to keep secret — but now it’s all forward-moving instead of hiding from the past. It makes the show more active.”
The Peter in question is Peter Krause (Six Feet Under, Parenthood), who replaced Damon Dayoub in the role of Alice’s erstwhile love, Benjamin Johnson — whom, Alice discovers, is really a part of a high-stakes, big-money con ring.
“He and I are a really great team,” says Enos. “We feel like equals. This is not to say anything negative about my previous lover, but he was younger than me. He had less life experience. It just felt like that relationship needed more grounding, and Peter brings that. It makes there be more to lose, and it just makes the game more risky. It’s not these young, beautiful people seeing what they can get away with — it’s lifers. It’s these con artists who have been at it for a long time and have so much to lose.”
Enos says she tested the new and improved pilot out on a very qualified critic: her real-life husband, actor Alan Ruck. “He walked away from it saying the performance that Peter is doing — well, along with me! — is going to be a major hook for the audience, because he’s really dealing with last chances. Last chance for happiness and being pulled between these two different worlds. He’s just beautiful!”
The Catch airs Thursdays at 10/9CT on ABC beginning March 24