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Exclusive: Tony Goldwyn and cast talk new We TV show 'The Divide'

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On Thursday, June 26, 2014 Examiner.com had the opportunity to attend a Special Screening of we TV's new show "The Divide," which premieres on July 16. Creators Richard LaGravenese and Tony Goldwyn and cast members Marin Ireland, Damon Gupton, Nia Long, Paul Schneider, Britne Oldford, Clarke Peters all walked the red carpet.

Show Synopsis: “The Divide” explores the personal cost of morality, ambition, politics, and race in today's justice system through the eyes of Christine Rosa, an impassioned caseworker, and Adam Page, a dedicated district attorney. When new evidence comes to light that puts Adam and Christine on opposite sides of a death row murder trial, they must reconcile their different ideas of justice with the realities of the system, and their own choices. Co-created by Richard LaGravenese and our favorite "Scandal" star Tony Goldwyn “The Divide” is the first scripted program to air on WE tv, produced by AMC Studios. The premiere episode was written by LaGravenese and directed by Goldwyn.

Read our exclusive interview with Tony Goldwyn below:

So can you tell me a little bit about what inspired the project?

Tony Goldwyn: Yeah. I started "The Divide" because I made a film in 2010 called "Conviction," which stars Sam Rockwell and Hilary Swank about a man who spent 18 years in prison for a crime that he didn't commit. And his sister became an attorney to try and get him out and with the help of The Innocence Project, after 18 years, got exonerated off DNA evidence and that's a true story. So, developing that film, I got very involved with The Innocence Project. I got to know Barry Scheck, and Peter Neufeld who founded it, and saw the extraordinary work they were doing, and heard story after story after story about spending time in prison after sometimes 20, 30 years for crimes that they didn't commit. And I found this all very moving. So I finished that one, and I said to my friend Richard LaGravenese, you know I think there's a TV idea telling, explaining these themes of how this happens and the vagaries of our justice system, and our gray areas and our moralities, and our personal moralities and our attitudes towards innocence and guilt and right and wrong, so we really wanted to dig into the gray areas we all have in our own lives. So that's how it kinda happened.

So how long have you been working on this project?

TG: We came up with that idea in 2010. And then sold the idea to AMC at the end of 2010, the beginning of 2011. It took us sort of a year to get a script and we made a pilot for it. Another 6 or 8 months and they decided to just do the first season. So yeah, it's been quite a few years. So four years.

So what was it like directing a show that you created?

TG: It was thrilling, it was great. It was like directing a movie. When you're making a movie ... the director is the primal author of it. You have the screenwriter, but the director is the decider the ultimate person who sort of steers it. In television, it's the writers and creators. So, I've directed a lot of TV but as a TV director I'm always sort of in service of the creator. For us, it's always me and Rich. I even deferred to him ultimately and the visions he sees as the writer. So we conceive it together, but if there was almost any decision, you know, I would say "Look, this is what I think, but what do you want to do?" And he would either agree with me or say what, it's more important to do this. And I would defer to him because television is the writer's medium. But, this is the ultimate for me, as a director I get to be a director but also have that authorship that you have when you're a movie director as well.

So after directing this huge thing and after being an actor obviously, would you say you prefer one over the other now?

TG: I love both of them. I love being able to do both. If I had to choose I'd probably choose directing because you are just involved with so many more people and as I said, you're the central storyteller. But I'd be terribly depressed if I couldn't act.

Damon Gupton

So what was it like shooting the first episode?

Damon: It was incredible. I mean, it was a while ago. I mean, great script, great cast.

What attracted you to the project?

D: Complexity of characters. And the opportunity to work with Tony Goldwyn, who's a legend, and Richard LaGravenese, who's a brilliant writer. So, that was part of the big pull.

So, Nia Long is your wife on the series. Explain a little bit about the dynamic of working with her.

D: Oh, it was incredible. Nia's an icon. I've been watching her for so long, so it was wonderful to meet her. A little bit intimidating because she's incredible, but she elevates my game to the next level, every take we do.

So the tagline on the website says, "Everyone is guilty of something." Does that explain the series?

D: It says a lot. And it also says a lot about all of us. We all have something, right?

Britne Oldford

So what initially attracted you to this project?

Britne: What initially attracted me to this project was the subject matter, which of course is very heavy and very dark and very ... disturbing to most people. But I've always found that fascinating, I've always found documentaries on jail and death row inmates and that sort of thing. Especially those who are innocent who are let go, they're free, and then the trials and tribulations of what happens during that stage in their life. So, I thought it was a very important story that needed to be told. And I just hoped that I could do the character justice, cause she's a handful. She's a lot. And everyone involved, Richard LaGravenese, Damon Gupton, Tony Goldwyn ... they're all such beautiful talents ... so I thought that it might be a long shot, but fortunately it all worked out.

So how was working with Tony and Richard on this?

B: Tony and Richard, they're the most incredible people. They're so sweet and kind and generously strong. And they help you feel comfortable in really playing and really going for whatever you can with the role. They just, they make it okay to feel insecure at times. And you can go to them to pretty much anything and they'll listen, which is very important for us actors.

Marin Ireland

So what attracted you to the project?

M: Well, Tony, first of all. I'd known him a long time through the New York theater scene, he's always been such a great guy and supportive and generous and we'd never actually got the chance to work with each other. So when this project came along, it felt...I was always saying to my agent, anything that Tony is involved with, I'm there. Before even "Scandal" was happening, or anything.

What was it like shooting the pilot?

M: We shot the first round of the pilot almost two years ago now, which is crazy. We shot the pilot for AMC, and then in the meantime they were in the middle putting "Rectify" and "Top of the Lake" on their other channels and Sundance and IFC. And they sort of decided to use this to rebrand the WE network. So the pilot was a whole kind of other experience, you know, there were a lot of characters involved and things that weren't going on it. But over all I'd have to say that Richard and Tony really have become like family to me, those two guys. Which I know is a special experience, and I'm really grateful for that. They're the best guys in the world.

Can you tell me a little bit about your character?

M: She is an intern at the Innocence Initiative, which is our version of the innocence project. She's currently a law student when we meet her. And she's very stubborn and she doesn't work well with others, she isn't really liked at work, but she's really really headstrong and really passionate. She has her own way of doing things, she tends to believe that it's her way is the right way. So the good side of that is the kind of intense passion she has for what she does, the bad side is that this kind of work as blinders for her. And she can get kind of self righteous and kind of see that her way is the only way even though she isn't really qualified. She believes that she's the one who knows how it has to be done.

What do you relate to the most with her?

M: You know what's great when you play characters like that is you can actually have the experience of taking away your own filter a little bit. You know some things that you wanna say all the time but you kinda keep a lid on it so what's great is letting that side of me go, and saying alright, this is what I would be like if I didn't have a filter. You know what I mean? And of course, I can definitely relate to the passion for this project and actually the Innocence Project itself, which I feel very strongly about. So what's great is being able to plug directly into that. Like it is something I feel very deeply, so that was a kind of high stakes atmosphere that I could really go along with.

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