Paula Patton on Pushing the Genre Envelope with Her ABC Serial Killer Series ‘Somewhere Between’

     August 30, 2017

paula-patton-somewhere-between-sliceThe ABC series Somewhere Between is a suspenseful thriller that follows Laura Price (Paula Patton), a local news producer who’s helping the police hunt down a serial killer.  After the killer strikes someone in Laura’s own life, a twist of fate allows her to relive the week prior to the string of murders, giving her a chance to change events, but also knowing that doing so will require an ultimate sacrifice.  

During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Paula Patton talked about why she wanted to sign on for Somewhere Between, the challenge of this character, the lengths a mother will go to, in order to save her child, the mix of genres, the tremendous evolution for her character, and whether she personally believes in fate. She also talked about the upcoming feature film Traffik, for which she was a producer, why it was important for her to get more involved in it, and her desire to continue to develop her production company.  

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Image via ABC

Collider:  How did Somewhere Between come about? Was this just a script that came your way, or were you actively looking for a television project that you could delve more deeply into?  

PAULA PATTON:  Honestly, it was sent over to me and they said they would like me to play the character Laura. I read it and thought it seemed like a challenge. The material excited me and moved me, so we went forward from there. It was quite simple, in that way.  

What was it about this story and character that made you want to live with her for 10 episodes?  

PATTON:  Just the idea of how it is that one will act when they’re faced with the most dangerous of situations, and how does that person begin to unravel, in different ways. You become stronger, but there’s an unraveling of who you truly are. Maybe there are things that you’ve hidden from yourself, or there are things that you surprise yourself with. And then, there’s the mask that has to come off of everyone else, as they interact with you. It was exciting and intriguing to me, on a character level, to find out where one would go from there. There’s that element of, what would you do when your back is against the wall? The fact that it was so high-octane, you have to really commit to the idea that you only have this short period of time to change your fate and the fate of the people that you care about, and how does that affect your life, when you just change one thing? There are consequences for all of that.  

As a mother, did you have to really think about whether you’d want to live in the headspace it would take to play a mother who’s child’s life is in jeopardy?  

PATTON:  You know what? No, I didn’t. At the end of the day, does it help that you’re a parent and a mother? Yes, because you understand that there’s no one you would give your own life for more than your child. You can understand what that feels like. For me, anything that you take on, you want to be challenged. That’s what makes the job exciting. Maybe if there was any fear or nervousness, that’s when I’m like, “Okay, this is what I’m supposed to be doing,” and I push myself harder into it.  

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Image via ABC

This series is a drama, but it’s also part family story, part thriller, part murder mystery and part supernatural. Was that mix of genres also part of the appeal? 

PATTON:  Of course, it was! Considering that it was a show for network television, I was really excited about the fact that it did not fit into a nice, neat box of any one genre. It also was clearly going to push the envelope, in terms of how dark it would go and the unconventional nature of it. Each episode is surprising and exciting. Nothing that we ever do is 100% new, but maybe it’s the way that you blend it together that makes it unique. In that way, I did find it to be a unique storyline. We were dealing with such intense subject matter that can be quite dramatic, but there’s also a bit of fun to be had in it with the adventure that she gets to go on. I felt like it was unique.  

We’ve seen this woman willing to sacrifice her own life and we’ve seen her willingness to take someone else’s life, if it means saving her own daughter. How hard will it be for her to continue to have her daughter in her life without going completely crazy over the possibility of losing her again?  

PATTON:  Well, that’s the thing. That’s the most important thing in the world to her, so she’ll go to any lengths for it, until she can go no further. That was the fun of it. I was pushing myself to think about what I’d really do and how I’d really act. I’m not a vengeful person. There are certain things that Laura will do that are not in my nature, so it was exciting to explore that, outside of me. At the end of the day, you always bring a bit of yourself to everything you do. You can’t help to do that. But sometimes, things ask something of you that are way out of what you think that you would do. I can only say what I would think that I’m capable of. Until you’re actually in that situation, you don’t know. At the end of the day, you know you’re going to go to the ends of the earth for your child, period, no matter what. There’s nothing that matters more. In my own life, there’s no amount of success or money that’s more important than your child being healthy and happy. There’s nothing that can put a band-aid on that. There’s nothing more valuable, to me, than your child.  

How different is the Laura Price at the end of the season from who she was when we first met her in the pilot?  

PATTON:  I think she’s tremendously different. What you see at the beginning and what you see at the end are very different. There’s an animalistic nature to her. She becomes quite a beast. It’s interesting because the show will be resolved for everybody by Episode 10, but it does beg the question, how does that also change her, as she moves forward in life. Whatever the outcome may be, it was a fun thing to explore that idea.  

By the end of this season, will we learn why this woman, in particular, was given a second chance to change fate and will we also learn whether fate can really be changed?  

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Image via ABC

PATTON:  That’s a really good question. I can’t really answer that without giving some things away. I’m hoping everyone is asking those questions as they watch, and I hope that, with each episode, you get a little more satisfaction. That’s what we aim to do.  

Laura is a very strong woman who keeps going, even as each new thing is thrown at her. Do you think that’s who she’s always been, or did losing her child and getting this second chance focus her in a way that she wasn’t before?  

PATTON:  That’s a really good question. Everything is probably inside of you, truth be told, but you probably don’t even know it. There are some things that she knows are inside of her, and some things she’s probably tried to hide to create a normal life that she didn’t have, as a child. But, I also think that she surprises herself. Essentially, I guess it has to be within you, and then the circumstances bring it out. That’s the surprise of life. You don’t know, until you find yourself in the situation. That’s what was so exciting about doing the role. You really don’t know what you’ll do. The older I get, the more I’m surprised with life. Things don’t end up the way you think they will. Unbelievable and unimaginable things do happen, and then you figure out if you’ll be able to step up to the plate or not. There’s no greater inspiration than that of your child.  

Do you personally believe in fate, and do you believe that fate is something that we can change?  

PATTON:  Yeah, I do. I believe there’s fate, and then you have personal choice. I believe we have the ability to change our fate. I love this quote I came across, which is, “Fate loves the fearless.” We don’t really know the ultimate outcome of our lives. All we can say is, “Fate has brought me thus far. This is where my life is right now, and I can either choose to stay here, or I can make a different turn that will take me somewhere else.” Most of us are at a place in our lives where we can either stay there and find satisfaction, or make difficult decisions that could have a degree of suffering, but the end result could be greater than where you are now. We really don’t know, but if you take that risk and you have faith, your life could end up somewhere very different. I certainly am an advocate of taking a jump off the tallest mountain and just hoping a net appears. More often than not, when you take those leaps of faith, something really incredible happens. It might just take some time. You might take a long, hard journey, but the end of it is usually a great one, I find.  

You also have Traffik, which you were involved in, as an actress and producer. Why did you want to get more involved with that particular project, and just how hands-on were you, as a producer?  

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Image via ABC

PATTON:  I was very hands-on. It’s something that I’ve definitely always wanted to do, and I was lucky enough to find the material, the right opportunity, and the people who wanted to give that opportunity to me, to develop the idea, creatively, in all aspects of making that come to fruition. For me, it was the ideal piece of work. It’s in the action-thriller/suspense genre. My job, as an actor, is to entertain people. My contribution to society is to be a respite from everyday life. People go home and watch television or they go to the movies, and they get to escape their reality. That’s part of how you endure and move forward. But if I can do entertainment that also maybe can educate people, educate myself, move people’s hearts and minds, in some way, and bring light to some injustice, that’s when entertainment is at its best. You can have an escape, and then go, “Gosh, I didn’t know about that!” And then, if somebody wants to get more involved in a socially active way, that’s when you’ve done the thing that I’ve always wanted to be a part of. I had an opportunity to do that with Traffik, and I’m really excited about it.

It was truly a labor of love, and a very collaborative piece, for everybody. It was something I really hope I get to do again. It felt like we were at summer camp for a month. It wasn’t the biggest budget, not even close, but the pay is in the creative experience. You can only sit and wait for so long for the right thing to arrive. That’s when you have to create your own bit of luck. You design your fate, in that way. You have to take a more active role to make the projects that you want to make happen and to bring them to fruition. You have to do the hard work for that, but the end result is gratifying. I hope to keep doing more and really create my production company, Third Eye Productions. I have great hopes to do more material like this, and not just for me, as an actor, but for other actors, as well. I went to USC Film School and really wanted to be a filmmaker, at the beginning of my career, but I’ve also loved acting, my whole life, so this is realizing that dream now. I’ve been a late bloomer most of my life, so that’s the case with this, too.  

Somewhere Between airs on Tuesday nights on ABC. 

Television