Sarah Paulson may have been intimidated by playing Marcia Clark in “The People v. O.J. Simpson” — but Robin Tunney is daunted by Clark in another way.
That’s because Clark is an executive producer of ABC’s “The Fix,” premiering March 18 and starring Tunney as a fictional version of Clark, who prosecuted OJ Simpson in his 1995 double-murder trial. “The writers said, ‘Marcia did not work on ‘The People v. OJ Simpson.’ She was not watching Sarah on the monitor,’ ” says Tunney. “Also my boss is the most famous female lawyer in the world and you don’t want to get into a fight with her.”
Tunney, 46, plays Maya Travis, a well-known prosecutor who fled California for Washington State to reinvent her life after losing a high-profile double-murder case. Unlike Simpson, the celebrity this time is fictional — movie star Severin “Sevvy” Johnson (Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje), who becomes the prime suspect again, years later, when his girlfriend turns up dead.
Travis is lured back to the DA’s office by Matthew Collier (Adam Rayner), a former colleague and an old flame. The chance to see justice prevail becomes irresistible and she stays on, moving back into her Silver Lake house and creating another set of problems at the horse farm where she’s been living with another man who’s been given the terrible TV name of River Allgood (Marc Blucas).
Romantically speaking, Tunney feels Maya has the best of both worlds. “There’s Matthew at work and Riv at home. He comes back and forth. Women have had to play that role for a million years so he’s my wife. Generally, if women are really good at what they do on television, they’re alone,” she says, perhaps referring to her tenure as Teresa Lisbon, Simon Baker’s boss on CBS’ “The Mentalist.”
Watching “The Fix,” you can see Clark’s legal expertise at work in one scene where Travis analyzes the body language of Severin and his now-dead girlfriend. Did Clark advise Tunney on her presentation?
“She never coached me on how to deliver anything,” says Tunney who credits director Larysa Kondracki (“Picnic at Hanging Rock”) for her performance. “I think Marcia wants to keep her hands in her own rice bowl.”
For her part, Clark says Tunney was the perfect choice for the role. “We thought she would bring the passion, but also some of the humor and deliver on the personal,” she says.
Besides Akinnouye-Agbaje, an ABC favorite since his days on “Lost,” the cast has some familiar faces but none more familiar to Tunney than Breckin Meyer. He plays Alan Wiest, the mayor, and was one of Tunney’s co-stars in “The Craft,” the 1996 movie that made her famous.
“It’s an amazing thing when you work with somebody twice in 20 years. It’s amazing that you’re both still working,” she says. “It’s comforting because you have an immediate ally. ‘The Craft’ was 23 years ago. It’s so crazy.”
“The Fix” was planned as an anthology series and Tunney says the case of the movie star and the murdered woman will be solved in 10 episodes.
And if the show is picked up, Travis will handle another case — which will mean Tunney will work for Clark again.
“Marcia’s far more accessible and warmer than you would have thought from watching the trial,” Tunney says. “I think because of everything she went through she’s accustomed to people looking at her all the time.
“She exudes warmth. She’s a survivor. It’s pretty cool to be a prosecutor and then a television producer.”
By Robert Rorke