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Rachael Taylor talks playing an FBI Agent on NBC's "Crisis"

Rachael Taylor stars as Agent Susie Dunn on the NBC series "Crisis"
NBC Universal

On NBC's new series "Crisis", actress Rachael Taylor plays FBI agent Susie Dunn, who after the children of Washington D.C.’s most powerful and elite- including the President’s son- are kidnapped from their bus, finds herself in unthinkable situations involving national security as she tries to bring the teenagers back home. The captivating thriller, which also stars Gillian Anderson, Dermot Mulroney, and Lance Gross, puts top CEO’s, political power players and dignitaries at the mercy of one vengeful mind as they try to ensure the safe return of their children

"I'm excited by the idea of Rand Ravich, who is the creator of the show and really kind of a mastermind at this particular genre,” said Taylor. “What I feel like we really tried to create is this really solid foundation of who our characters were and how they behaved. Then we had that solid basis to offer it from. But I have to say-just as, number one as an actor, but as a fan of the show in my own kind of weird way, it's kind of exciting to feel like things could change on a dime at any minute."

From the first episode we see right away that "Crisis" is a show that is traveling at a fast road with many upcoming twists and turns as each parent is coerced by the kidnappers to do things that can possibly put the entire nation at stake in order to see their child again. That driving force of a parent's love, no matter their position in the world, is what Taylor says leads this television thriller to stand out.

"I think that "Crisis" has this bone of peculiarities in a way. There is a strong sentimental factor to our show. What regular people-the parents of children on the block that re from humble backgrounds and all the way up to the President's child; we ask the question how far they would go to save their child's life? So there is a certain emotionally moving component to our show that I think kind of sets us apart."

To prepare for her role as an FBI Agent, Taylor spoke with a former female agent in the force which she says was a highly valuable component in helping her get into the mind of Susie Dunn. “Just given the kind of personal conflicts that my character carries throughout the series, it was cool talking to her about the culture of being a woman in the FBI. I infused a lot of our conversation that I had with her into my performance,” said Taylor. “We spoke less about the technical aspects of being in the FBI and more about a kind of sophistication of what being an agent does to your inner person. It's intriguing because all of our jobs affect us on a kind of a deeper level in some way. Being a Federal Agent is a fairly important task. What was interesting to me was just hearing her dogged determination and her focus; and also her explaining that for both genders of Federal Agents, once they get into that analytical way of thinking, they really never are off the job. And hearing from her that in some ways she managed to navigate it, but that it took tolls on her personal life in different ways because of the adjustment that is required to your thinking when you have a job that is to serve and protect the country. We spoke a lot about that kind of psychological cross-over. It was very interesting.”

As we discover by the end of the premiere, Susie Dunn's job in the FBI ends up having an even greater affect on her personal life as we learn that one of the student's taken is in fact her daughter whom she gave to be raised by her older and powerful CEO sister, played by Gillian Anderson.

As to whether Taylor leaned on the former “X-Files” star for any FBI Agent character training, the Australian-born actress says she instead felt it was important to find what makes her character for this show unique.
“She's [Gillian] a very valuable presence to have on set. She's an incredibly elegant actress, and a very thoughtful and intelligent one. She really kind of doesn't miss a trick so I just watched and learned. I didn't speak to her about playing an FBI Agent specifically because I think one of the important things is you don't want to do a generalized impression of an FBI Agent. You want to find the things that specifically make the character who they are. In the case of Susie Dunn, I really feel like she's very kind of cold in a way-cold and kind of fractured. So I try to lean mostly on my own personal insight and feelings about the character,” said Taylor, who added that one of the things she was glad to be able to portray with her character is the more real versus perfect way Susie Dunn goes about doing her job.
“She's one of those agents that is from the library to the field. It's because of her personal connection to one of the victim's that she is doing things that she would never normally do. But I never look cool in it, which I think is awesome,” Taylor explained. “One of the things I like most about this show is that I feel like this is cable style quality because we do take risks. I'm never just set up to have the wind blow through my hair and then I draw the gun and get a perfect shot. It's more of a mess. I like that we're favoring realism over just cool action for the sake of it.”

Another alternate direction Taylor appreciates “Crisis” has taken with her character is not confining her to the stereotypical television portrayal of what a woman and mother should be like. “Here is what this character isn't: it's not like I love my job and my baby. It's not this picture perfect idea of femininity that sometimes I look at and I'm like, 'Oh, I'm supposed to be an FBI Agent. I'm supposed to wake up and curl my hair and it's supposed to be long but I still really want a family. That is not this character and that is not this show,” Taylor emphasized. “Rand has said to me, “Why are you crying in this scene? Don't do that. Your character doesn't do this. She cannot process her emotions. She's mean, and she's tough, and she's broken. Don't give me the TV version of this.” There are certain perimeters around how girls are supposed to be on TV and Susie Dunn does not fit into that. She's not pining necessarily after this picture perfect idea of a child. She's very disconnected and cold, and hasn't processed that part. It's all very complicated and messy.”

You can see how complicated things get as the crisis continues to unfold on Sunday nights at 10 PM on NBC.
@CrisisNBC @_Rachael_Taylor


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