To play former first daughter Hayes Morrison in ABC’s legal drama Conviction, Hayley Atwell looked to a real-life political family for guidance.
“I’ve been keeping up to date with what’s happening in the political climate, especially with thrillingly, amazingly having a woman leading a party at the moment,” Atwell says, referring to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, “and then watching Chelsea Clinton and how she comes across.”
The Clinton women weren’t the only ones who helped Atwell capture Hayes. Aside from watching The Good Wife, Atwell says focusing on one action — or rather, inaction — allowed her to command the screen.
“I think the trick for me has been to try to be as relaxed as possible,” she says. “I find that people who have status in a room are actually incredibly physically relaxed. They don’t have to act like they’re important. They just are important. I’ve had a little bit of experience here and there in meeting various leaders or very successful people [and have seen that] that they are kind of the most chilled out, relaxed people, because they don’t have to work as hard as the people around them are working to get things done. They have people that they can delegate stuff to. They’re in the center of it, having a good time, you know what I mean?”
And Hayes certainly has a good time. Not only did she grow up in the public eye while living in the White House, but, as a high-powered lawyer, she’s also forced to run the Conviction Integrity Unit in exchange for her freedom from jail, which she briefly landed in for cocaine possession. All of that drama, though, happens outside of the office — a duality Atwell enjoys exploring.
“She has tensions and demons that leak out in other areas, mainly in her personal life, but at work that’s where she excels, so she can be on fire there,” Atwell says. “She also knows that she can’t get fired… I think it’s really fun to play.”
Conviction premieres Monday, Oct. 3, at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.