Lifetime is going to the dark side tonight with Killing Daddy, detailing the revenge plot of Cassie Ross (Elizabeth Gillies), who's determined to get back at her father, sister, stepmother and anyone else she deems responsible for the suicide of her mother. But vengeance won't come easy, as Cassie doesn't have all the facts about her family - and her mental illness may push her over the edge. On Monday, we had the chance to talk with Cynthia Stevenson, who plays Cassie's stepmother, to talk about this original thriller.
"I had an absolute blast doing it," she enthused. "I did it because [executive producer] Pierre David, I met him in Los Angeles and I had a meeting with him, and he just seemed like the nicest guy ever...and Billy Moses, he's also in the movie and plays the father, he's an old friend of mine. He said 'You've got to do it.'"
"What I loved about the story is that all the way through, one can be wondering ,whose perspective am I looking at? I like a story like that. It's not completely clear whose story you're following in a way," she continued, also praising the performance of leading lady Elizabeth Gillies. "She has such a fantastic quality as a person. She's dark, she's light, she's funny, she's dramatic. She is a really instinctive, gifted actress, and she brought all of that to the role. She, to me, kind of keeps you guessing."
Where some actresses might hesitate to sign on to a Lifetime movie, Cynthia told us she had no reservations about jumping aboard, having known from the start that Killing Daddy would land on the network. "I was happy about that," she said. "I love Lifetime. I did a Christmas movie [for them] four or five years ago [Will You Merry Me?], and then I actually did their first half-hour comedy for two years in 1998, called Oh Baby.
"I'm all about the story. If I like the character and I think the story's entertaining, I'll do it," she continued, "whether it's on someone's YouTube channel or HBO or NBC or wherever it is."
Indeed, you've seen Cynthia on plenty of different TV channels; she's appeared on everything from Cheers to Monk and The L Word. She's also one of Shonda Rhimes' repeating players, having guested on Grey's Anatomy, Off The Map, Private Practice and most recently on Scandal, where she played Mary Nesbitt, the grieving mother who strapped a bomb to herself and held Olivia Pope hostage in the episode "Mrs. Smith Goes To Washington."
While a prolific guest actress, she hasn't been a main cast member since she played Celia Bachelor in ABC's Men In Trees, which ended in 2008 - so would she consider another regular role on the small screen? "I would definitely do another regular role on TV," she told us. "There hasn't been anything I've been excited about in a while. What I really love doing the most are sitcoms, and there haven't been as many.
"I loved doing Dead Like Me. That role was phenomenal to me," she reflected, referring to her co-starring role as Joy Lass, mother to main character George, on the Showtime comedy-drama. "But then I get those little gifts like Scandal. It was so exhausting to shoot, but it was so rewarding!"
What are the other roles Cynthia has truly enjoyed over her enviable career? "The Player, I loved so much because it was such a labor of love on all levels, and it was such an enormous honor to be in a Robert Altman movie," she said. "Such an amazing show - and it's why I got The Player - I did a show in 1990 called My Talk Show.
"It was a hybrid, half of a sitcom and half of a talk show. Real celebrities came, and we interviewed a celebrity every episode, and the celebrities would get sucked into the sitcom. We literally shot six scripted shows a week. I say that I can't believe I was able to do it. But we did it and Robert Altman saw it!"
While her role in Killing Daddy is decidedly more serious, at heart Cynthia has a true love for comedy. "I think in the world we need more comedy," she told us. "I wish so much that we could embrace that side of us more. I love to escape through watching comedy, and I wish for more of that in the future."
Killing Daddy premieres tonight at 8 PM ET/PT on Lifetime.