How Emily Deschanel’s “Morbid Charm” led to Netflix’s “Devil in Ohio”

CUL PS Emily Deschanel
Emily Deschanel attends the premiere of Apple TV +’s “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet” at the Cinerama Dome on January 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Jean Baptiste Lacroix / Getty

“Maybe it’s a morbid fascination, because it’s dark, but I find cults very interesting.”

What could make a show about a mysterious cult even more terrifying? Be inspired by a true story. “Maybe it’s a morbid fascination, because it’s dark, but I find cults very interesting.” Emily Deschanel plays Doctor Suzanne Mathis in the new Netflix series Devil in Ohio. “He is a very experienced person … but he has blind spots and hasn’t really dealt with his own problems and traumas.” Maybe that’s why her character brings home a mysterious young woman, Mae (played by Madeleine Arthur). “I wanted to understand why she did what she did.” Based on a book by Daria Polatin, who also created the series, Deschanel says he loves the way Daria “approached the stories” that reveal the truth behind the mysterious patient. “You’re looking at a family that has different things to do and then one element changes … everything changes.” What hasn’t changed for Deschanel is the outcry from fans wanting to see a project with her and her sister Zooey. “I would never say never. We should be playing sisters because it would be weird if we weren’t.” [laughs]

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What I love about the show is that it’s like a family drama in a small town, healthy vibes and then THE DEVIL! Was there something in that balance that attracted you?

I love the fact that we’re exploring these different things, we’re seeing two different worlds colliding, or more than two worlds colliding, really. You have a family drama going on, you have this family that looks perfect on the outside, but there are different things that happen with each of them, as a family unit, there are some cracks in the armor, so to speak. Then you have this girl running away from a cult background and that whole world. I find it fascinating to do family drama and then also deal with people who worship the devil and live in this city and explore how that affects the girl who runs away and how she gets along in the world after she escapes. My character, Suzanne, decides to welcome her and bring her into her family. As the show progresses, you begin to learn things about Suzanne that explain a few things about her past.

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It’s one of those shows where you find yourself screaming on TV, because we, as an audience, know more than you as a character.

I made a scary movie years ago [Boogeyman]. I remember a friend asking me, “Do you do one of the scenes where you go up the stairs and yell for people?” I did it. But what I like about this is that it really explores the psychology of why Suzanne takes her to her house, that you can scream and say, “Why are you doing this? You shouldn’t be doing this as a psychiatrist. It won’t be good for yours.” family. It won’t be good for the girl because the boundaries are broken. ” But then let’s explore why anyone would do something like this. And it’s inspired by a true story, the basic premise has happened. So, diving into what happened to them in their life that makes them want so much to save this girl and protect her and risk their family collapsing as a result, I think that’s the thing that makes this an interesting and new twist on the story. . Is there any explanation.

It’s also one of those things, when you watch a horror show or movie knowing it’s based on a true story, like The exorcistyou say “How is it based on a true story ?!”

It’s hard to believe it’s real. Of course, things have changed, but the basic premise has happened. So it’s fascinating.

What was the project that struck you for the first time for you?

I was attracted to the character Suzanne. I wanted to understand why she did what she did and brought this patient home. She is a very experienced person who has a great career and a great family and is doing so well, but she has blind spots and she hasn’t really dealt with her own problems and traumas that she experienced as a child. So I found it really fascinating. I also investigated the cults. I had a friend who joined one of her, she probably would have called it a community, I call it a sect, but we’ve never seen it again. So I have since looked all over about cults and talked to the people of the cults and got more information about them [them] how can I, because I find it really fascinating. If someone fell prey and joined and did it, I want to understand why and how it happened. Perhaps it is a morbid fascination, because it is obscure, but I find the cults very interesting. So that drew me into the storytelling, and I really loved the way Daria approached the stories and the way you are looking at a family that has some different things going on that you don’t realize at first and then an element. changes in a family and how it can change so much. Change everything.

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It is absurd to think that anyone could be persuaded to join a sect.

I talked to someone who had a sister who joined a cult, and she told me what she learned from a cult expert, everyone thinks, “Oh, I would never join a cult.” And you said anyone can join a sect. It’s just leading you to a low point in your life, which is a sobering thought to think we could all be subject to this. I’ve seen so many documentaries and studied enough to think it would be pretty hard to indoctrinate me, but I think it’s interesting to look at it from that compassionate perspective and say “we don’t judge people who join”. And another thing I’ve learned in the research for this is when, whether it’s religion or philosophy, whatever belief you are told when you’re very young is really hard to remove from your psyche. They are in there really solidly and so if you are taught to worship the devil ever since you are a child, it is really hard to take him away.

Have you always been a fan of the horror / mystery genre?

I love a good fear. I probably became less tolerant of scary things as I got older and had children, so maybe less than when I was younger. The first job I did was a Stephen King miniseries. Was called Red rose. I was so excited. Stephen was a pizza delivery man. He was very simple and normal. So it was nice to meet him. But yeah, that was my first job. I like psychological thrillers more than horror where things are bloody. So this is really attractive to me. I love the psychology of something and really have those beautiful fears but without it being gory. This is an appeal to me.

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Bone has been hugely successful and has a huge fan base. When you are in such a big show, do you ever worry about being defined by that performance or that show?

I’m always looking for something different. I remember an actor, to be honest Red rose, telling me, “Once you get your signature role, it’s always there, people will always try to engage you in the same thing. So do as many things as you can, before you get that signature role.” I’ve been doing a show on the net for 22 episodes a year for 12 years and now, being a mom, I’m selective about the jobs I do and don’t want to spend so much time away from my kids. So every job, there are so many things to consider. I think I’ll define myself later Bone it was an interesting challenge because I’m at a different stage in my life and as an actor. But most of all, I always want to be challenged.

Your family business is really the entertainment industry, which is so wild. Would you and your sister Zooey ever do something together?

I would never say never. We have to find the right thing together. But I think we would be open to such a thing. We should play sisters because it would be weird if we weren’t. [laughs]

Hear H. Alan Scott’s full conversation with Emily Deschanel on Newsweek’s Parting Shot. Available on Apple podcast, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Twitter: @HAlanScott

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