You undoubtedly know Erin Cahill from her memorable guest spots on everything from How I Met Your Mother to Supernatural to Body of Proof, if not her more permanent positions on Power Rangers Time Force, Saving Grace, or General Hospital, but even if you hungrily devoured all of those shows, you might not have recognized her on ABC's Red Widow. Cahill's role of Felicity, the much younger girlfriend of Petrov patriarch Andrei (Rade Serbedzija), is a true star turn for the actress who considers most of her previous roles to be "Girl Next Door" or "Young Wife" types.
"I had so much fun creating her because I went right from Call of Duty, where I was playing this tattooed, really bad-ass, tough chick-- to Body of Proof, where I played this very nebbish, book-wormy girl-- to Red Widow, where I played this real tart, if you will," Cahill said to LA TV Insider Examiner.
"It’s always my essence; you’ll always see my essence in everything I do, but just her hair and her clothes and the things she does and how she walks—it was definitely different and such a fun experience. I used to live for the wardrobe fittings because I would just cackle laughing. I'd go in and tell them 'You're just killing it!' Melissa [Rosenberg] really loved realism, so they really emphasized people looking like real people, but then along comes my character [who] looks like a Real Housewife. It's just the most outrageous fun, and then every episode, my hair is just up on top of my head. She has a very distinct vibe!"
Since Felicity is such a departure from Cahill as a person, and the roles she has played in the past, it shouldn't surprise you that it wasn't the Red Widow role for which she originally auditioned. Cahill shared with us she first read for the role of Kat, Marta's (Radha Mitchell) sister, and the casting process actually came down to her and Jaime Ray Newman for that role. When Newman ultimately got it, Cahill considered there was a chance she could pop up as a guest star somewhere down the line in the eight episodes, but instead, she got an offer she never expected and just couldn't refuse.
"Melissa called me personally, and I had maybe met her twice at that point. She called me personally, which has never happened to me ever—that the creator of a show had called me personally! She said, ‘I want to offer you Felicity. It’s a very small role in the pilot, but I see her as recurring, and in my vision of the show, she comes back and has a bigger part, and I would love to offer that to you'," Cahill said.
The role of Felicity starts off small-- Cahill called her "peppered" throughout the first few episodes-- but she still plays an important part as some "levity" in an otherwise really dark world. Since the character wasn't fully formed in Rosenberg's mind when she called Cahill to offer it to her, there was opportunity to infuse more of herself into Felicity, as well.
"She’s very sweet, and she never has ill intentions. Even if she makes mistakes, it’s always for what she thinks is a good reason. She’s sweet, but she’s not the sharpest tool in the shed...I think it definitely went off of my essence a little bit. Hopefully not the part of being dim. But about her being kind of heart-forward and being very driven by kindness and things like that," Cahill said.
"She’s the patriarch of the family’s girlfriend. They don’t take her seriously. She’s just this sweet girl. [Andrei] just wanted somebody easy and cute by his side, and she’s there, serving as that, to kind of dote on him."
The Petrov family in Red Widow, if of course an organized crime family, though, and Cahill admitted her character is kind of mostly turning a blind eye to things she might not like or agree with that her boyfriend is carrying out.
"She kind of does it under the guise of ‘I don’t know what’s going on!’ because she’s so aloof, running around, trying to make [Andrei] happy," she said of Felicity's moral line.
This could lead to contention with Marta, though, who is being dragged back into a world she swore she wouldn't be a part of as an adult. As time goes on, though, it's not your stereotypical "my dad's girlfriend is my age" kind of melodrama that causes friction in Marta and Felicity's relationship, though.
"I think she starts to feel badly for my character because [Felicity's] just constantly put on the backburner. I really don’t even say much for the first few episodes. She’s just around, and then towards the end of the season we see more of what she’s about. Radha’s character kind of takes pity on me a little bit," Cahill said.
But whether or not that pity is deserved or is part of what Felicity wants to achieve is something viewers will have to tune in for and decide for themselves. The majority of the Red Widow characters embody a duplicity that means there is much more to them than immediately meets the eye, so isn't it possible Felicity could just be acting aloof and like a Real Housewife to keep the harsher attention off of her?
You can catch Cahill on Red Widow on ABC on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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