AGENT CARTER’s Hayley Atwell returns to ABC with a new series called CONVICTION.
This time around she loses the British accent to play a lawyer and former First Daughter.
“I defy anyone to watch the show who doesn’t know [Atwell's] previous work and wonder if she’s not American,” said executive producer Mark Gordon at the Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour earlier this year. “She’s great. And it’s not easy because the dialogue is so fast.”
Atwell’s Hayes Morrison isn’t nearly as together as Peggy Carter was. In fact, she has mess written all over her. Her reputation needs to be fixed. And it needs to happen before she does serious damage to her mother’s Senate campaign.
At the beginning of the series, Hayes is down on her luck, but an opportunity quickly puts her on the road to potential redemption. Potential being the key word. The question becomes whether she can make the most of this new job Eddie Cahill’s New York District Attorney Connor Wallace hands her.
It’s going to require her to give up her precious time and energy. Not to mention she’ll have to dust off her empathic skills. Her mission once she accepts it: heading up Wallace’s Conviction Integrity Unit.
Atwell relished making the transition from Agent Carter to Attorney Morrison. “It feels like an easy transition when you have good material,” she said. “It was a very welcome challenge, but something that I didn’t find daunting. I was thrilled by it, really.”
The actress embodies a character that struggles with her many demons. “I think she’s a risk taker in the good of that and the bad of that, in every kind of aspect of her personality,” said Liz Friedlander, executive producer of CONVICTION. “And I think it can get her in a lot of personal trouble and then also actually make her look at things in a very unconventional kind of renegade way in her work.”
“And she’s fairly fearless, which makes her the perfect person for this job,” said executive producer Liz Friedman.
So she’s fearless, reckless, and a risk taker. She’s also damaged. Atwell provided her own character analysis. “There’s a wild aspect of her,” she said. “I think she’s at times feeling that she is not so much reckless, but she’s in kind of a reckless situation, or she’s finding the environment she’s in, she’s kind of just reacting to that.”
“I did feel that there were elements of Hayes where she’s just stayed at the party too long, and she doesn’t quite know how to leave,” Atwell continued. “And she’s missed her ride, and the lights have gone off, but she’s eating congealed pizza.”
As part of Wallace’s Conviction Integrity Unit, Hayes will have to figure out whether or not the system failed. Determining whether justice was actually served is an intense, weighty responsibility.
Like it or not, she won’t have to face it alone. She has a team that she may or may not gel with — only time will tell if she’ll forge a bond with any of her coworkers. She, of course, will have to deal with DA Wallace. He and Hayes share a past that’s…complicated.
“[Connor]‘s politically ambitious. I think he’s very bright, as is she,” said Cahill. “In some respects, he aspires to be who she is or covets what she has and maybe where she comes from.”
“I feel like [they] are these two sort of prize fighters who are constantly figuring out how to best each other,” Cahill said. “And in that, I think there’s respect, I think there’s attraction, and I think there’s a real will to win, you know, at all costs.”
For now, the forecast for Hayes’ future is bumpy. Turbulent, even. “I think that Hayes is going to make steps forward towards her redemption,” said Friedman. “I think she’s going to backslide like crazy. I think she’s consistently been her own worst enemy in her life, and when she starts to find her feet in a situation, she tends to self-sabotage.”
Added Atwell: “What makes it interesting as an actor is to find where the chinks in the armor are and the triggers of where she might just mess it up and the kind of underlying vulnerability, kind of the cost of having to be on form all the time and what that kind of does to her own psyche.”
CONVICTION airs Mondays beginning October 3 at 10/9c on ABC.