News

Eyewitness Star Julianne Nicholson Cuts to the Chase and Finds Great Pizza in Canada

by | November 4, 2016 | Comments

Eyewitness: Julianne Nicholson as Helen Torrance (Christos Kalohoridis/USA Network)

Part of what makes Eyewitness star Julianne Nicholson so engaging to watch on screen is surely the real-deal Julianne Nicholson — a talent willing, for instance, to bypass publicists connecting her calls in favor of a direct dial.

“Let’s cut to the chase!” she jokes.

Nicholson has inhabited complex supporting characters on shows like Masters of Sex, The Red Road, and Boardwalk Empire and in movies like August: Osage County, so it’s great to see her in a role where she is the focus.

In USA Network drama Eyewitness, she plays Helen Torrance, sheriff of small town Tivoli, New York (though filmed in Canada), who is investigating a murder. What Torrance doesn’t know is that her new foster son Philip (Tyler Young) witnessed the murder. Nicholson’s character seems to have a “been there, done that” approach to small town politics and toward the intruding FBI agent Ryan Kane (Warren Christie) — who also happens to be the killer. Parenting, however, is new territory for her.

We spoke with Nicholson after she returned from filming a movie in South America.

Eyewitness: Julianne Nicholson as Helen Torrance (Christos Kalohoridis/USA Network)

Fred Topel for Rotten Tomatoes: When Eyewitness premiered, you were busy filming in South America. What were you shooting there?

Julianne Nicholson: Yes, I was in Colombia doing a South American film in the jungle, in the mountains about these eight teens, revolutionary soldiers, and a kidnapped woman. It’s called Monos.

RT: Do you speak Spanish in the film?

Nicholson: [Laughs] A little bit. The whole thing is in Spanish, and yes, all of my dialogue is in Spanish. Luckily, I didn’t have a ton to do. Actually, that’s not true. There were some improvised lines where it was fine if I spoke English. They didn’t understand me, but that was appropriate.

RT: So you’re playing an American woman?

Nicholson: Yes, thank God.

EYEWITNESS: Julianne Nicholson, Warren Christie (Shane Mahood/USA Network)

RT: With Eyewitness, is Ryan Kane any match for Helen Torrance?

Nicholson: I mean, no, come on. She’s all over him. He’s definitely a match, and I think it’s very interesting where their relationship goes. I think they really surprise each other. Before any crime is solved, there is a journey that they go on together.

RT: I think it’s only inevitable that there will come a time that Helen will find out that Philip saw the murder. When she does, can we expect a really explosive confrontation?

Nicholson: There’s definitely a confrontation, yes, but they happen at unexpected times. By the time it’s revealed that he saw the thing, it’s at a place where it’s not the time to be angry about that secret. It’s more about protection and keeping people safe. She blows up at him earlier on. By episode four, I think she’s straight up yelling at him. I loved working with Tyler so much. It was a really beautiful experience to explore that with him.

RT: By episode four we learn something traumatic about Helen’s past. Did that add a whole new depth to the character for you?

Nicholson: Yes. It definitely informs the rest of her life and the decisions she makes that bring her to Tivoli and where she is now. I like characters with secrets. I like not knowing everything right away and discovering things as you go. And then she’s in this marriage to someone she loves incredibly much, but didn’t reveal that to him in the early days. Now is it too late? And where do you go from there?



RT: With secrets, do you find out as the scripts come in?

Nicholson: I didn’t want too much information. I’m happy to do one episode at a time, maybe the next one, but I’m very happy to keep it in the present and discover as I go.

RT: Helen is not entirely by the book. Do you imagine this is maybe not the first case where she’s bent the rules?

Nicholson: I imagine this is not the first case when she’s bent the rules. I imagine, without going too far, she can be a bit righteous and can feel like “by any means necessary.”

RT: Do you share her search for good New York pizza when you’re filming in Canada?

Nicholson: Yes, but you know what? There was an Italian place in Parry Sound, Maurizio’s Pizza. Literally his mother was there in the kitchen, the Nonna, cooking the pizzas, and it was the best food in Parry Sound. I ate a lot of pizza this summer — a lotta pizza. It was so good, and the car wash that we filmed at shared a parking lot. They fed us well this summer. It was a very carb-friendly set.

EYEWITNESS: Julianne Nicholson, Tattiawna Jones (Christos Kalohoridis/USA Network)

RT: How much when you put on the uniform do you feel like a cop and feel like Helen?

Nicholson: One hundred percent. It really changes how I feel, how I walk, other people’s perception of you. I loved it. I loved that uniform. Once we got it fitting just right, I loved it.

RT: Oh, how many did you have to go through before it fit just right?

Nicholson: It was more that we chose what it was going to be. It was just lots of tailoring, tucking, nipping, and tucking.

RT: I imagine real cops don’t get that luxury. They just have to wear what’s provided, don’t they?

Nicholson: I’m sure that’s true, but there are cops on set and all their clothes were fitting them like a glove. So I was like, “What’s happening? Are there just so many size options or are they getting theirs tailored?” The ones that we saw around us all looked pretty fitted.

RT: The explosion in episode two was a pretty big stunt. Did you get to do any of it yourself?

Nicholson: I just had to throw myself down the stairs at the end, but no, they don’t let you. Not that I wanted to, to be perfectly honest. Thy really want the professionals to be in the explosions and breaking glass and stuff like that, although when I was just in Colombia, I did all of my own stunts, and I realized I’m much stronger than I thought I was. It was fun, but I’m very happy to have someone stand in for me. Make me look good.

RT: What stunts did you do on Monos?

Nicholson: Swimming in rapids was one, which I did pretty regularly. Climbing up places that could have easily turned into a mudslide. I learned how to use a machete and bushwhack, which could have very easily landed in my knee or the camera operator’s knee. It was exciting.

EYEWITNESS: Julianne Nicholson (Shane Mahood/USA Network)RT: Of course we’ve seen you play characters on shows like The Red Road and Masters of Sex. Was being the lead on Eyewitness noticeably different than the other shows you’ve done?

Nicholson: Yes, I loved it. I loved being there almost every day. I loved the responsibility. I loved setting the tone on the set. It was a beautiful experience. Adi Hasak, who created the show, called me his partner, and I feel the same way. I’ve never felt so seen and included in the process as I did on this show. I loved it.

RT: Do you have to stay in the dark place while you’re filming?

Nicholson: I don’t. I feel like I’ve done this for long enough now, when the scene is over I can pretty much put it down. Also the whole cast and crew were really positive and happy and funny. That energy was mostly what was happening when the cameras weren’t rolling, which is really nice.

RT: Were you able to do that also on a film like August: Osage County, which seemed relentless?

Nicholson: I know, but yes, we were. Everybody was so happy to be there. The scene at the dinner table where Meryl goes off, that was very upsetting for three days. Besides that, there was a lot of laughter and joy. I’m not one of those people who has to carry it into my life anymore. I think a little smidgen of it does, because you can’t entirely put it down, but not too much. Also I have a family, and it wouldn’t be fair to them if I was suddenly miserable for four months.

RT: I imagine these 10 episodes are closed-ended, but is Helen Torrance a character you would like to play again?

Nicholson: I would play Helen Torrance again in a heartbeat. I love her. I think she’s super cool and funny, and I think there’s much more to get to know about her.

Eyewitness: Julianne Nicholson as Helen Torrance (Christos Kalohoridis/USA Network)

RT: I know it’s still early, but have you heard any word they might be considering it?

Nicholson: I think there’s some chatter, but there’s nothing set in stone. I think that will be revealed as people decide to tune into the show or not, really.

RT: Are there any other films we should look for you in besides Monos?

Nicholson: Yes, I have a film called Sophie and the Rising Sun, which is coming out in February. I have another film coming out in 2017 called From Nowhere. It was at the SXSW Film Festival this year. In Sophie, it’s 1941 South, right before Pearl Harbor, and a Japanese man is dumped in this tiny southern town. Margo Martindale is in it and Lorraine Toussaint, and it’s sort of a picture of that time and the feelings at that time towards Asian people in our country. In From Nowhere, I play a high school teacher in the Bronx. I have four students who are not legal in the country — and what a very real experience that is these days — and am trying to help them.

Eyewitness airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on USA Network

Tag Cloud

latino strong female leads Box Office Mystery book Tumblr IFC WGN adventure YouTube Lionsgate Comic Book LGBT Grammys travel MCU Amazon MTV FOX period drama Hallmark 2019 Reality Cosplay Election Brie Larson Christmas documentary kids OneApp Apple TV Plus USA Quiz jamie lee curtis casting Masterpiece a nightmare on elm street X-Men independent American Society of Cinematographers Pirates Captain marvel DGA Vudu 71st Emmy Awards witnail Nickelodeon Turner Classic Movies cults 2018 free movies Music TCA Winter 2020 Teen women HBO Max Mary Poppins Returns serial killer Women's History Month werewolf teaser joker zero dark thirty cinemax Classic Film Superheroes Schedule Paramount Network cats cops BBC Chilling Adventures of Sabrina New York Comic Con USA Network video on demand Bravo TV Land australia TLC Trivia diversity Walt Disney Pictures laika green book Netflix social media 2015 toronto Disney streaming service emmy awards 4/20 FX President crime drama Red Carpet Pixar Pop TV Turner rt archives Britbox nature Marvel Studios crime Countdown Paramount Plus VH1 Rocketman Pride Month franchise Best and Worst YouTube Premium medical drama satire Ellie Kemper RT History WarnerMedia MSNBC french Family TV renewals The CW Disney The Witch comedies Anna Paquin animated Showtime crime thriller worst movies deadpool Premiere Dates sag awards festivals die hard unscripted remakes CBS All Access IFC Films supernatural Television Academy blockbuster movie reboot CW Seed ABC Family Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt GIFs DC Comics politics finale Pet Sematary Cannes Drama Rom-Com binge PBS NBC Acorn TV A&E Arrowverse parents trailers First Reviews dragons award winner Netflix Christmas movies space Crackle Universal Sundance TV 72 Emmy Awards 99% Superheroe Lucasfilm Apple TV+ revenge San Diego Comic-Con dark Mindy Kaling all-time Spectrum Originals golden globes FX on Hulu transformers sitcom romantic comedy Photos vampires television stand-up comedy Martial Arts Marvel Television discovery dceu Esquire Tarantino See It Skip It comic books Film Festival Paramount nbcuniversal Star Trek CBS Winter TV Kids & Family Toys Creative Arts Emmys Television Critics Association Polls and Games breaking bad TCA Awards Shudder Valentine's Day science fiction SXSW TCM comics justice league Nominations quibi what to watch Baby Yoda canceled 2020 Holiday classics Sci-Fi Chernobyl Summer japanese south america boxoffice Awards Tour Mary Tyler Moore slashers Amazon Studios dogs DC Universe Syfy Ovation Sony Pictures Amazon Prime Interview nfl Film Disney Channel series Emmy Nominations anthology DC streaming service ghosts Spike Hear Us Out History harry potter venice universal monsters facebook E3 rotten Biopics golden globe awards renewed TV shows FXX Black History Month fresh Mary poppins hollywood VOD spanish language Avengers Mudbound NYCC LGBTQ archives El Rey stop motion scary movies OWN CMT CNN Musical 2016 E! true crime PlayStation critics indiana jones Hulu HBO Go composers war Horror christmas movies Year in Review cooking BBC America 21st Century Fox rom-coms doctor who Amazon Prime Video superhero theme song Set visit YA boxing TNT Song of Ice and Fire AMC spinoff elevated horror batman foreign based on movie GoT TIFF The Arrangement Food Network versus Academy Awards psycho Fall TV 24 frames Reality Competition indie singing competition disaster ID hispanic movies BET Awards police drama political drama Infographic Trailer jurassic park concert Sneak Peek twilight SDCC dc child's play TV Comics on TV The Walking Dead zombies cancelled television Epix Extras historical drama The Academy spanish Tubi National Geographic TCA Columbia Pictures Rocky Cartoon Network TCA 2017 Crunchyroll Alien Shondaland Rock streaming cars Fox News Marvel halloween Fantasy Travel Channel anime ABC comic 20th Century Fox Watching Series Super Bowl obituary A24 scorecard game show aliens Character Guide Emmys The Walt Disney Company toy story documentaries thriller Oscars asian-american Black Mirror Star Wars Awards BBC One stoner black screenings Lifetime Christmas movies Starz natural history 45 cancelled TV shows Ghostbusters cancelled TV series Discovery Channel james bond criterion Marathons Apple fast and furious Heroines Comedy docudrama richard e. Grant TBS robots YouTube Red PaleyFest Holidays Endgame Comedy Central Freeform 2017 HBO BAFTA Podcast halloween tv psychological thriller biography Musicals ratings Adult Swim children's TV crossover romance technology Elton John football spy thriller reviews Dark Horse Comics comiccon RT21 game of thrones BET 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Pop adaptation chucky Certified Fresh ABC Signature zombie Country TV One Action Thanksgiving Sundance Now name the review Logo sequel blaxploitation films APB best rotten movies we love TruTV news cartoon Trophy Talk tv talk hist Disney Plus sequels sports Calendar GLAAD mission: impossible Peacock ITV Warner Bros. Lifetime ViacomCBS Winners spider-man Opinion Nat Geo Tomatazos italian The Purge Fox Searchlight ESPN Video Games spain miniseries SundanceTV 007 video Disney+ Disney Plus pirates of the caribbean mutant DirecTV festival Western Funimation Stephen King Sundance Binge Guide screen actors guild Animation Writers Guild of America Spring TV VICE directors cancelled dramedy worst Hallmark Christmas movies mockumentary First Look canceled TV shows talk show