Mercy's Taylor Schilling on Her Show's Renewal, Its Future, and the Best Strip Club Announcement Ever
Taylor Schilling is relatively new to mainstream acting, but her character on NBC's Mercy, the harried protagonist Veronica Callahan, is an utter advancement upon recent female roles from romance-infected hospital dramas. As an Iraq War veteran who vaunts Irish anxiety and aggression with a top-note of cynicism, Nurse Callahan functions as a steely yet shaky hub for Mercy's den of nurses. And she's actually funny, too. Though she struggles to own her past and work through the less-than-stable present, she has led Mercy into becoming a success story; the show was just picked up for a full season. Schilling spoke with us about her role, her ambitions, and why Mercy is her dream project.
Mercy has been picked up for a full season. What was your reaction upon hearing the news?
It's such a lovely vote of confidence in the show, and it just gives everybody a boost. With each go-around, with each show, it's just getting better. We're learning more about it, and it's an upward climb. It's like something is working here, and we're going with it, you know what I mean? And it means people are watching it too, and that's always fun. [Laughs]. You know, when you're not working in a vacuum.
Have you been back to set yet since the big announcement?
Actually, when they told us, our entire crew was at a strip club. We were filming, and our producer got in the DJ booth, and I don't know how they did it, but they connected us with L.A. And it was very muffled, but everyone just kind of heard "Wah, wah, Mercy, wah, wah, wah, back nine," and we were all sitting around in the strip club, and it was pretty divine.
That sounds like an ideal location to find out the news.
I think so too. I don't think it could've been better, I really don't. Maybe it would've been better if we weren't working and could've had a round of cocktails, but that could happen another day.
Your character on Mercy, Veronica Callahan, is both serious, sarcastic and a little scary -- with her lingering Iraq War trauma sometimes coming into play. Tell us your feelings about the character when you first read the part.
She is scary! I was totally thrilled. She's kind of a dream to play because she's so complicated and there's so much to explore. It's what you want. There's a lot of stones to overturn with her. When I first read the script, I was completely enthralled by the whole thing, and she had me.
Did her Iraq War background make the character difficult to connect with?
You kind of work to figure out how you can identify a part with yourself. But it is daunting, and it required a lot of prep. And as the show goes on, I think we're going to see her soften with it, and grow from the experience. When we first meet Veronica, she's only been back for three months, and so it's an intense time for her. What I'm so excited about now that we have more episodes to explore it is how she's really coping with it on a daily basis, how she's moving forward. It just softens as it gets further away.
Veronica is also very funny, which I think might be her most interesting attribute.
That's exactly what I'm talking about, it's what's exciting about playing her. Her humor and her way of dealing -- I mean, she's good at deflecting, which can be kind of hilarious. When I first read the script, I wasn't sure how much that would get a chance to live, and now that that's been given some air, it's fun. It's a part of who she is. She's tough, and she's been through a lot, but she's a girl who can play. The humor of many of these situations is not lost on her.
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