Airing on WGN America, the drama series Bellevue follows Annie Ryder (Anna Paquin, in a stand-out performance), a detective looking to unravel the mysterious disappearance of a transgender teen (beautifully and heartbreakingly played by Sadie O’Neil), in a case that might connect back to the murder of a young woman, 20 years prior. But trying to solve this mystery will pull Annie further away from her daughter and force her to confront someone from her own past, all while trying to navigate the complicated relationship with her on-again/off-again ex, Eddie (Allen Leech), and her boss on the police force, Police Chief Peter Welland (Shawn Doyle).
At a press day for the TV series, Collider got the opportunity to sit down with series star/executive producer Anna Paquin to talk about what attracted her to Bellevue and this character, why she feels the need to be more involved with the production side of things, the complicated character dynamics, leaving some loose ends at the end of the season, and why she’d love to keep playing Annie Ryder. She also talked about the 10-year anniversary of the premiere of HBO’s True Blood and how much her life changed, over the course of making that TV series.
Collider: When this came your way, what was it that not only made you want to sign on as this character, but got you involved as a producer, as well?
ANNA PAQUIN: At this point, work wise, I find it very hard to compartmentalize acting without knowing what’s going on in production, so I wanted to be a part of that. I’ve just been doing this for too long. I also have a production company with my husband (Stephen Moyer) and have done some producing on my own. I like being a part of the process. If there’s conversations to be had about creative decisions, I like to get to be a part of it. Everyone brings their own specific agenda, in a good way. Every other department usually gets representation in a production meeting, but no one represents the acting department. You can go, “Oh, wait a second, that’s weird,” or “That doesn’t work. Can we talk about this?” I like collaboration and being a part of it. And I found the story immediately captivating. I met Adrienne Mitchell, the director and co-creator, the next day, after having binge read all of the scripts that were available, and then spent hours falling creatively in love with her. I was just in. It was not a, “Oh, I wonder if I’m gonna do this.” It was like, “No, I’m in. Thanks! When are we starting?”
How much of the series did you get to read ahead of time, and did you have to anxiously wait for the answers?
PAQUIN: I think there were four scripts already written, but the rest of the season had been broken out already, so I read the plot breakdown and knew everything that happened. I was very eager, after I read the first one, and was like, “I need more scripts! There has to be more!” And there were three more. Then, I got to the end and was like, “That’s it?! Now, I need to know what happens! You can’t just leave me hanging like that!” So then, I was sent all of the breakdown stuff and more information. I was hooked.
Did you feel satisfied with the answers that you got, by the end of the season?
PAQUIN: You get answers, but there’s also still a lot of questions. There’s still a lot of loose ends that have not been tied up. They’ve poked the hornet’s nest. You get some of the answers, but people’s lives don’t get complicated and damaged overnight, and they don’t fix overnight either. She’s quite a damaged person when we meet her and has had a lot of trauma in her life. She’s living in a way that is quite reckless and not necessarily particularly safe. She’s on the edge. While that makes her great at her job, as a detective, it’s not a stable existence. I feel like there’s a second season begging to happen, creatively. Whether we’ll get to do that or not, I don’t know, but I would love to get to continue to explore all things Annie. There are some complicated relationships that get sorted enough, but there’s still a lot of things that need to really be addressed, which I always find fascinating, as an audience member. So, I would love to do more of this. Jane [Maggs] and Adrienne, the co-creators on this, and I are just so creatively in sync that it would be cruel not to. If we don’t do more of Bellevue, we’re gonna do something else together, for sure.
Annie has very different, very interesting relationships with the men in her life.
What was it like to get to explore those different relationships and really learn more about her, through how she interacts with and reacts to those men?
PAQUIN: Eddie is her on-again/off-again love or loathe of her life, depending on the day of the week. They can’t live with each other and can’t live without each other. They have a beautiful daughter, and she’s kind of the only grown up in the family. There’s a lot of love, but absolutely oodles of dysfunction. And he’s the only person that she can ever really be vulnerable with and gets under her skin, in that way. He makes her really have to feel things, and she allows him to take care of her. Most of the rest of the time, she doesn’t really let anyone in that close or let anyone take care of her. The relationship that she has with Peter, her boss, played by Shawn Doyle, he was a young cop under her father, as the police chief, when she was a child. He’s known her, her whole life, and knows exactly why she is the way she is and has always felt protective towards her, but she’s also rebelled against him, constantly, because she just doesn’t want to do things by the book or play by the rules, as written. She has this very unconventional relationship with somebody who’s technically supposed to be her superior, but she really does not do anything he asks her to do, ever. That both infuriates and endears him to her. She’s a complicated girl. There’s a scene, later on in the season, where Eddie and Peter talk about her driving a man to drink, but she’s hard to not want around.