When Deception was first pitched to NBC, it was clear that the affluent, secret-filled family was going to be a white one, so Entertainment President Jennifer Salke insisted that there be a diverse woman in the main role of Detective Joanna Locasto in order to expand the worldview of the show, but also the possibility of the audience attraction, as well. Enter Meagan Good, who Salke called a "passionate lead" and someone "[you] can't take your eyes off of."
"Megan just walked in and owned the room. Boom. She was Joanna," Deception executive producer Liz Heldens said of her star.
Good, though, told the TCA tour in Los Angeles today that she really only started acting as a hobby as a kid because she knew she was "never going to be good at cheerleading or sports." She has worked consistently, and in many films, over the years, but she considered Deception the highlight of her career and the role of Joanna a once in a lifetime gift.
"A lot of [my] growth has also been opportunity. Sometimes I feel like God doesn't let you grow until you're ready to grow...For me, from the time I was a teenager to an adult, a lot of the things I wanted the opportunity to do in this business, I wasn't ready. And now, it's shifted," Good said.
"I don't know how it parallels except for just the timing really being right."
The show, which producers called "Donnie Brasco and the movie Sabrina [had] a baby," deals with Good's character going undercover in a very wealthy, WASPy family to find out if one of them had a hand in their socialite daughter's death. She had previously grown up with the family, her mother having worked for them during her formative years, and broke the upstairs/downstairs social stigma by becoming best friends with the girl and being completely accepted into the family.
"I love that there is kind of a moral compass inside of her without being self-righteous, without being judgmental, and there is a heart to her. Just putting that together, I really wanted that to show and live," Good said, noting that she got great insight from her LAPD father and FBI step-mother in real life on just what a person can lose in such a position.
"You have to be willing to disconnect emotionally, to a degree, and like Joanna, really be willing to die for the cause...I fall more in love with her everyday, and in every script, and in every chance to play her."
The audience goes along with Joanna on the journey of re-integrating into that high society world, but we will often be ahead of Joanna in terms of knowing the characters' new secrets. Berman pointed out this was intentional from the start.
"We will reveal to the audience who the killer is, and Joanna will probably have a pretty good idea, and the second season is about proving it," Heldens said.
Of course, in today's competitive television market, there is the risk that the audience might not want to invest too deeply in a mystery series-- out of fear there might not be a pay-off if the show gets prematurely cancelled, but Heldens isn't too worried about that. She is focused on just making the show as strong as possible and believing the twisty, called "juicy" in the room drama will intrigue and hook the audience as it has the network.
Series star Victor Garber added that the show is so much more than the mystery of "Who Killed Vivian Bowers?", and the many, duplicitous sides of the characters are bound to inspire interest, above anything else.
"What I really appreciated was the dynamic, the nuances of the characters. They were so dimensional, it allowed you to be able to play all of these different things...It's very truthful; you could actually believe these things could happen, these people are real," Garber said.
"What's more interesting than not knowing, thinking you know, and then finding out you're wrong? I think that's what the show offers the audience, and I think it will be a delight."
Deception premieres on NBC on January 7th 2013 at 10 p.m. but you can get our take on the pilot and watch it in full right now!
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