[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Aliyah O’Brien is a familiar face for TV Goodness fans for her roles on Bates Motel and a handful of Hallmark movies, but she’s got a long list of credits and is probably most recognizable for her turn on ABC’s Rookie Blue, where she played Holly, the ME Gail Peck (Charlotte Sullivan) loved and lost in Season 5. Thursday night, O’Brien is back on ABC in Take Two. I spoke to her this afternoon about the new series.
The summer crime dramedy confection comes from the Castle team of Andrew W. Marlowe and Terri Edda Miller. Eddie (Eddie Cibrian) is an LA a private detective who pairs up with Sam (Rachel Bilson), a movie star coming off a rehab stint and trying to salvage her career by shadowing him for background on a possible comeback role. O’Brien plays Detective Christine Rollins, Eddie’s longtime friend and colleague within the police department.
O’Brien was thrilled to get the role as a series regular, and the opportunity came up after she essentially put it out into the universe what she wanted for herself. “I auditioned in Toronto. [Then I went on vacation.] I was in Bali, and the first day, I was walking down the street, and I thought, ‘This feels like home. I need to move here. I’m going to go home and I’m going to book a TV series so I can move to Bali part-time,’ she laughs.
“And the day after I got home, I got a call back and then did a screen test and got the role. It honestly felt like some divine manifestation. It was a co-creation with the universe. When I booked it, I knew very little about who [Christine] was but I got a little download from the creators on who she is and where she is headed.”
“It was a bit of a mystery because it was still in development. It was kind of exciting to have the character unfold for you as it does for the audience. It’s always a bit of a surprise when we get the scripts.”
Christine is Eddie’s ally in the department, and they have a professional and personal history. “They’ve been friends for nine years. They’re just really tight. They tried dating at some point and it didn’t work out and they decided they were better as friends,” says O’Brien.
“They were able to separate their feelings and care about each other as friends. I think it’s really cool that [Christine is so well-rounded]. She’s all business and she gets the job done [and she can also be sexual].”
While Christine is firmly aligned to Eddie, she also finds common ground with Sam, once she’s working actual cases. “Christine judges people on their actions and their efforts. She rewards effort and people who try,” O’Brien explains. “She knows about Sam’s past, but once she starts to prove herself and earn her respect, Christine gives it. I really love it that our writers aren’t framing it as ‘girl against girl.’ It’s women supporting women.”
The series was ordered by ABC straight to series. O’Brien was grateful the cast were able to jump right in vs. shooting a pilot and waiting for a pick up. “It’s always so nice because you know you’re going to get to play with these characters for 13 episodes,” she point out. “It’s relaxing and reassuring. You’ve instantly got this family that you’re going to work with for six months. It’s just a nice vibe.”
O’Brien has another, much darker series in the can and awaiting U.S. distribution. She describes Insomnia as a bit of a take on Hunger Games. “It’s about a game show. People with a lot of money get together once a year and bet on the players in the game but it’s like survival of the fittest,” she says. “You have to stay awake, and if you fall asleep [they] kill you.”
After working across lighter and darker fare, O’Brien enjoys the balance but has a special place for uplifting material. “I love doing guest stars and smaller, shorter runs on the dark stuff just for depth and variety’s sake, but I’m much more partial to something that’s light and fun,” she shares. “That’s the kind of stuff I like watching, too. [Like with our show], it’s grounded and real, but I like it when there’s levity and [it makes] you feel good so you don’t go to bed with weird dreams.”
While O’Brien has played her share of BFFs or the love interest’s foil in Hallmark films, she’d love a shot at a romcom of her own. “I don’t get the opportunity to play those roles, ever. I’ve had romantic relationships in shows, sure, but I’d love to play someone a little more true to who I am as a person,” she says.
“I’m a bit of a badass, but for the most part, I’m a little bit quirky and I have a big heart and I’m a romantic and I would love to play someone a little more true to me and play more sides of myself. I love a good Christmas movie. I could get down with one or two.”
“There’s something about Christmas that’s just so fun. When I work on the Hallmark ones, the [good feeling] you get when you watch them is the same when you’re shooting them. You’re working with friends and it’s fun and light and there’s something comforting about that.”
Take Two premieres Thursday at 10 pm/9c on ABC. The cast are currently in production in Vancouver and O’Brien says they hope to Tweet along tomorrow night. Here are a couple of sneak peeks (and yes, that’s Orphan Black‘s Jordan Gavaris).
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