TV Source Magazine attended the 10th anniversary of the PaleyFest Fall TV Preview for the new ABC drama series Notorious in early September. We spoke with stars Kevin Zegers, Sepideh Moafi and Ryan Guzman about shocking moments from the premiere and what’s to come for their characters in future episodes.
Notorious centers on the symbiotic relationship between charismatic defense attorney Jake Gregorian (Daniel Sunjata) and powerhouse TV producer Julia George (Piper Perabo), as they attempt to control the media, the justice system and ultimately each other. Jake and Julia’s relationship is inspired by the real-life friendship between famed criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos and award-winning cable news producer Wendy Walker. Their professional alliance has influenced some of America’s most infamous moments in recent history.
In Notorious, everyone’s motives are suspect and morality is subjective. Meanwhile, the people surrounding Jake and Julia seek to advance their own professional and personal agendas.
LHL’s junior producer, Megan Byrd (Sepideh Moafi), is a street-smart journalism school grad responsible for scheduling and managing guests. Julia’s eager-to-please production assistant and son of the network president, Ryan Mills (Ryan Guzman), will do whatever it takes to climb the ladder at LHL. When billionaire playboy and social media mogul Oscar Keaton (Kevin Zegers) is accused of fleeing a crime scene, he turns to Jake for help.
TV Source Magazine: In your own words, how would you describe your character Oscar Keaton?
Kevin Zegers: Difficult. The thing I find interesting about young billionaires is that they are really private [and] they don’t take direction very well. All the things you need to do when you are in trouble, with a lawyer, he isn’t doing. You will see how, as the show goes along, that he doesn’t take direction very well. He’s used to being the boss, so deferring to someone [else] to make decisions for him isn’t something he does very well. He’s complicated. As the story unfolds you get to see how he reacts to what ends up being a bad situation for him, but he doesn’t handle things like you would imagine he would.
TV Source Magazine: You have had a long career, what’s the secret of not being a notorious star?
Kevin Zegers: I went through my phase when there would have been a lot of stuff. I started working when I was 12, so anyone who finds success at that age has a period where they do really dumb shit. I’m sober now, if you would have caught me 7 or 8 years ago there would have been plenty of notorious things.
TV Source Magazine: Before social media and camera phones.
Kevin Zegers: Thankfully that didn’t exist back then. I did all that stuff, fortunately I didn’t do anything illegal or too bad. Fortunately, I got sober 5 years ago, so aside from my family, that’s what keeps me grounded. It’s rough though, I’m never surprised when I see Justin Bieber in trouble. There’s no boundaries that people can set because you don’t live within the boundaries of normal society. You are making more money than everyone around you, and most of the people around you are living off what you provide. So if they are telling you to tone it down, don’t go out tonight, there’s no reason to listen, especially when you are that young. It’s very intoxicating, and you need to fall on your face a few times, and fortunately for me I fell on my face and the wreckage wasn’t as bad as it could have been. That’s the only reason why I’m not notorious for something.
TV Source Magazine: Given that your character is involved with the murder mystery arc, once it ends will you still be around?
Kevin Zegers: Well, we are still filming, we are on episode 6. It’s kind of open, the story is an arc which I love. I wasn’t super keen on signing onto something for 6 or 7 years so this was perfect, but I’m having a blast. Every week they give a new script and I’m along for the ride. They haven’t given me a “this how it’s going to end” or “this is what is going to happen.” So we will see what happens with the character when everything is resolved, whether he comes back or not I don’t know.
TV Source Magazine: Congrats on the show! How would you describe Megan in your own words?
Sepideh Moafi: Megan is ambitious, highly intelligent, creative, passionate, truth seeking, savvy, street smart, I could go on and on she is very good at her job and she takes her job very seriously. She’s a very career oriented woman who climbs the ladder very quickly, she saw what she wanted and kind of sky rocketed from there.
TV Source Magazine: The show is centered on a notorious scandal of the week and there’s the serialized murder mystery story, will Megan be intertwined with both?
Sepideh Moafi: Megan is intertwined in all of it, she is booker and producer, she’s responsible for getting as much information as possible, getting the guest in line, creating the show, writing the show so that we follow and track these stories. Witnessing being in the control room, which I did when I first got this job at CNN and Good Morning America, there is so much multitasking going on, and so much information the people are responsible for nurturing and keeping track of, it’s insane, massive I don’t know how they have time to sleep.
TV Source Magazine: In the pilot there’s a point where Megan reveals to Julia that her boyfriend is cheating with call girls. What was Megan’s motivation for exposing his secret?
Sepideh Moafi: I think the struggle was that she wanted to make sure she had all her ducks in the row before she shared all the information. I think it caught her off guard when Julia demanded the information, she has nothing but love and loyalty towards Julia that’s what that whole interaction/scene was very difficult. She never wants her past to be taken by Julia as something that will influence her work now or complicate her relationships now because she is loyal to Julia and devoted to her job. I don’t think she’s ashamed of her past because she is a working woman and had to do what she need to survive. You can interpret it how you want but I think the reason why she was reluctant at the beginning not to say anything because she wanted to make sure, because it’s a huge bomb to drop.
TV Source Magazine: Your character Ryan is the son of the network executive; how would you describe him?
Ryan Guzman: I would describe Ryan as an enterprising, entitled young man, he’s been given an opportunity as a personal assistant for Julia George, played by Piper Perabo. He’s having an interesting time finding his own limits, and breaking down his own limits. He’s never been told what to do, he’s never been given boundaries and when he is given boundaries and limits it’s very easy for him to break. He’s lived carefree so long, it’s an enticing character to play because he’s always getting into trouble. He does whatever it takes no questions asked.
TV Source Magazine: How involved in the murder mysery is Ryan and how does he come into play?
Ryan Guzman: Ryan finds himself always in the thick of things but you never know how he’s gotten there. He’s that Jake Gyllenhaal Nightcrawler-ish character – he will go outside the legal system of whatever is for the media to create the story or get more enticing things for the story, for Julia. You will definitely feel a lot of Ryan throughout the whole Oscar Keaton case and whatever case comes after.
TV Source Magazine: There’s a little romance on the horizon for Ryan as well it seems.
Ryan Guzman: Oh yeah, Ryan and Ella [Aimee Teegarden] seem to have a fancy for each other, and their characters like spending time with each other and like learning from each other because they are both new to their own worlds. Her the legal side, mine the media side, we are a direct shadow of Piper and Daniel Sunjata’s character but flipped which I think is brilliant.