From Frank Darabont, the new TNT drama series Mob City depicts the epic battle between a determined police chief and a dangerous mobster, in 1940s Los Angeles. Based on the critically acclaimed book L.A. Noir by John Buntin, the story follows Det. Joe Teague (Jon Bernthal), who has been assigned to a new mob task force headed by Det. Hal Morrison (Jeffrey DeMunn), as part of the crusade by Los Angeles Police Chief William Parker (Neal McDonough) to free the city of criminals like Ben “Bugsy” Siegel (Ed Burns) and Mickey Cohen (Jeremy Luke), and to stop the corruption in his own police force.
At the show’s press day, actress Alexa Davalos (who plays the mysterious Jasmine Fontaine) spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about playing one of the only women in this very male world, why she fell in love with this character, getting to wear such an incredible wardrobe, what it’s been like to collaborate with Frank Darabont, how much she loved the stylistic dialogue, working with Simon Pegg, and how she hopes they’ll get to return for Season 2. Check out what she had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
ALEXA DAVALOS: Oh, yes! It’s a very, very male world. It’s actually very period appropriate.
Was that part of the appeal of this project, for you?
DAVALOS: I don’t know if it was part of the appeal, specifically. I fell in love with her, the second Frank came to me with her. I read eight pages that he had put together for me. The interrogation scene was the first material I saw of her, and I just said, “Yes, where do I sign!” I loved her, very much. But, it’s more about the time period. To be able to exist in that time period and be a dame in that time is just something I’ve always wanted to do.
And wardrobe is just so incredible.
DAVALOS: Yes! Giovanna [Ottobre-Melton], our costumer, is just the most gifted costume designer I’ve ever worked with.
What was it like to work with such a detailed atmosphere, with the sets, the props and the wardrobe?
DAVALOS: Jasmine is a photographer, and I’m also a photographer. That was a lot of fun. I was asked to bring in a lot of my black and white photographs. I shoot film. I’ve got a huge film in my garage, full of film. So, there was a lot of my work in Jasmine’s apartment, which felt very special for me.
DAVALOS: In the beginning, we were talking about developing the character together. I was brought into the writers’ room, and we talked about my take on her, my idea of her backstory, who she is, and where she came from. That was a very collaborative process. Frank is somebody who just lets you go. He’s like, “Okay, she’s yours now,” so you’re alone with the character, which is a real freedom. There’s a real gift in that. And at the same time, he knows exactly what he wants, down to an eyebrow. So, you have this freedom, but you know that he’s there with a very keen eye and he’s seeing everything. It’s an interesting duality to work with. Frank lets you go, but he’s got you right in his clutches.
Because it is so stylistic and specific, did this kind of dialogue come easily for you?
DAVALOS: I loved it, right away. The rhythm is in the writing. His writing is just beautiful. He’s gifted. And the rhythm of the cadence of that time is on the page, so it was unavoidable.
What was it like to work with Simon Pegg?
DAVALOS: I love Simon Pegg. I just think he’s incredible. His accent, alone, was amazing. He’s just ridiculously talented, and just the most humble human being. He has talent coming out his ears, and he’s just so humble. We had a lot of fun together.
DAVALOS: You know what, when the cameras weren’t rolling, he had me in stitches, all the time. But, I would lose myself in that moment. He just disappeared into Hecky Nash. I don’t think many people could have done that.
There’s a very interesting relationship between Jasmine and Joe Teague. Will viewers get to learn more and more about that?
DAVALOS: That is a work in progress, yes.
Is it fun to play the most mysterious character on the show?
DAVALOS: It’s a blast! It’s a mystery. We’re unfolding all these different puzzle pieces. She’s got her cards real close to her chest. Her survival depends on it. It was a lot of fun. Too much fun! I miss her, a lot.
Were those questions about who she is, where she’s coming from, and what her motives are things you wanted the answers to ahead of time, or are you okay with not having those answers?
DAVALOS: I’m easygoing, that way. In certain situations, you want to know. In other situations, it’s okay not to know. We don’t know her future. In the moment that I’m filming, I don’t know her future, and that’s okay. But, where she’s come from is crucial. I really miss her! I keep saying, “When can I get back to filming?” Fingers crossed, that I can get back into my Jasmine shoes.
The season finale of Mob City airs on TNT on December 18th.